‘Maggot Brain’ is undoubtedly one of the most famous tracks recorded by George Clinton’s funk ensemble Funkadelic. Released in 1971 as the first track on the album of the same name, ‘Maggot Brain’ has gone down in history for including one of the best, and most psychedelic guitar solos of all time.
Apart from a small spoken word segment by group leader George Clinton, the track is almost completely instrumental, consisting almost entirely of a guitar solo by the group’s guitarist, Eddie Hazel, whose kooky nickname is what gives the track its title.
Hazel’s guitar solo was so well received by fans and the music press that it has since gone on to be considered one of the greatest all of time, reaching the 60th position on a list that Rolling Stone ran a number of years ago. But the solo’s conception was just as quirky as the band’s origins. The legend goes that Clinton, who was under the influence of LSD, told Hazel during the recording sessions to imagine he had just been told his mother had died, but then to imagine he discovered this wasn’t true. The result was the powerful marathon solo that remains in the track.
Apparently, Clinton was so impressed with Clinton’s work that he faded the other musicians who were originally recorded onto the track, leaving the track to be an almost completely solo composition of Hazel’s. Clearly, Hazel must have been an amazing guitarist to warrant the silencing members of a band like Funkadelic, whose members are so skilled and prolific that they were inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame in 1997. Sadly though, this proved to be one of the last recordings made by Hazel for the group, as he would leave Funkadelic later that year.