The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! The Legendary Life And Music Of Bootsy Collins

To the casual listener, William Earl “Bootsy” Collins might not be a household name. But chances are that you have danced to one of his bass lines at some point in your life. Gen X-ers may recognize Collins as the star-shaped sunglasses and elevator boots-wearing bass player in the famously psychedelic music video for Deee-Lite’s hit song “Groove Is in the Heart.” But well before millions of MTV viewers had his image burned into their brains from the video’s heavy rotation in the early ‘90s, Bootsy Collins was a legend for his unique sound and ability with an electric bass guitar.

Who Is Bootsy?

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Photo credit: Fin Costello/Redferns & Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Bootsy Collins, self-described as “the world’s only rhinestone rockstar monster of a doll,” was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on October 26, 1951. Bootsy was the baby of the Collins family, a full eight years younger than his brother and future music partner, guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins. He got the nickname Bootsy from his mother, Nettie Lee Collins, because (as she put it), “you looked like a Bootsy.”

He showed an interest in music at a young age as he wanted to emulate Catfish and would sneak in practice sessions on his big brother’s guitar while he was away working his paper route.

Bootsy got his big break playing backup for another legend…