It’s my uncle Lloyd’s birthday today. He is 84. He is one of the nicest men you could hope to meet, even though he is an Australian.
A few years ago I went to collect him from Auckland Airport. On the same flight from Oz were George Clinton and his band. Very exciting for me to see Mr Parliament/Funkadelic and his Day-Glo dreads live in person coming into the arrivals hall – but not as exciting as what happened next. There was Lloyd and there beside him deep in conversation was Bernie Worrell in a cowboy hat.
“Bernie who?” you ask. He is/was the long-time keyboard player in Parliament and Funkadelic; he played with Talking Heads in their 80s funk phase. That scary-looking black guy in the backline of the Stop Making Sense concert movie wearing the sleeveless white T? That’s him.
Lloyd spotted me, waved me over and said, “Bernie, I want you to meet my nephew Stephen.” They had been seated beside each other on the long flight over. Lloyd is a keen talker but has an industrial-strength stammer so is quite hard to follow; he is also deeply conservative. Bernie Worrell has clearly taken a few drugs in his time, so he is quite hard to follow too; he is also deeply religious, which Lloyd is not.
I have no idea what these two men, both tiny but so different in every other way, talked about on the flight or even if they understood each other, but there in the arrivals hall they were soulmates.
I hugged my uncle, shook hands with one of my heroes, and was happy.
Here is Bernie Worrell with Talking Heads performing “Once in a Lifetime” – that’s him in the opening shot: