Last night, New York’s Webster Hall played host to an all-star benefit concert to help out legendary funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell, who has played with the likes of Talking Heads and Parliament Funkadelic and who is currently receiving treatment for stage-four lung cancer.
The night included appearances from heavy-hitters of various parts of the entertainment industry, including P-Funk’s George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison, The Meters’ Leo Nocentelli, actress Meryl Streep, Questlove, John Batiste, The B52s’ Fred Schneider, Rick Springfield, Buckethead Paul Shaffer and many more, including a surprise appearance from David Byrne, along with Worrell himself, who sat in on a few tunes near the end of the night. (The evening marked a rare collaboration featuring late night program musical directors Questlove and Batiste.)
The event kicked off with “P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)” and Taking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” from one of the house bands, Black Rock Coilition, who’s set also featured P-Funk’s “Hit It and Quit It” with Bernard Fowler and Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” and Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” with Harrison.
Byrne then came out with some words about Worrell and Bernie Sanders, whose name was referenced throughout the night. Meryl Streep later came onstage to speak about Worrell before introducing Springfield. Filmmaker Jonathan Demme also screened a montage of all the Worrell moments from his Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense.
Nocentelli, Questlove and Batiste played The Meters’ “Fire On the Bayou” before Worrell himself came out to play keyboard. After Collins bestowed a tie dye melodica upon Worrell, Clinton came out as the collective went into P-Funk’s “Flashlight.” A closing jam centered around “We Want the Funk” ended the night by bringing several of the artists back onstage to play with Worrell.
Watch a couple of the performances below, along with a video of Worrell receiving a mayoral proclamation during the evening.