Danny Bedrosian

Danny Bedrosian Publishes P-Funk Reference Book

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WATERTOWN — Armenian-American musician Daniel “Danny” Peter Bedrosian, member of George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic collective, finally has completed a project which took several decades of work: The Authorized P-Funk Song Reference: Official Canon of Parliament-Funkadelic, 1956-2023 (Rowan and Littlefield Publishers). This is an encyclopedic 504-page catalog of all the albums, projects, songs, and collaborations of all musical groups founded and produced by Clinton from 1956 to 2023.

Danny Bedrosian with the cover of his new book

Bedrosian said, “The Parliament-Funkadelic canon is the largest single discography of any music collective in the history of music of the world essentially. It is the longest running popular music band in world history as well with a 68-year unbroken tenure of time of work. It is also personnel-wise the largest band of all time, with somewhere around 200 full-time touring members. With that in mind, this [publication] was a daunting task, to say the least.”

The discography encapsulates somewhere around 850 releases, the vast majority of which are albums, so that means somewhere over 10,000 songs.

The newly published book contains full details of who played and sang on all songs of the groups connected with Clinton, along with rare photos. The precocious Bedrosian said that he began compiling information in notebooks on Clinton’s work back when he was in middle school. Later, “when I got into the band,” he said, “I started asking all of my bandmates many tedious questions about the minutiae of personnel and obtained those from the primary sources themselves over an 18-year period.” Many of those individuals are no longer alive.

The Covid pandemic provided Bedrosian the opportunity to set aside the time necessary to bring the book to fruition. Previously, he said that he was on the road as a keyboardist with Clinton for 280 to 320 days a year, along with his classical music residency which had him working the rest of his free time.

First, however, he had to take care of health issues. He had a little health scare right before Covid, which led him to lose 85 pounds and get into what he called the best shape of his life. Nonetheless, he said, “Alpha Covid was really, really bad on me. I was hospitalized three times. I almost didn’t make it.” After recovering he moved into the countryside in Florida where he lives now, and started running every day and exercising, as well as perfecting classical music pieces, like some of his favorite Khachaturian segments, that he had never had the time to devote to previously.

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The third thing he did was to make the Clinton reference book a reality. He said he knew he had to work fast: “The music industry was hit especially hard during the pandemic because of the way we travel and the hardships and conditions of traveling. I decided time is passing and we are losing a lot of people.”

He conducted some 130 primary source interviews with about 66 members of the band, including, he said, somewhere around 18 to 30 hours of interviews with Clinton himself, who lives down the street from Bedrosian. What he did, he said, was “a really tedious interview process, going song by song, person by person, [asking] who played on this? Who is this bass player? Who is this trumpet player?”

He felt particularly motivated to do this because, he said, “I didn’t want three or four generations to pass where nobody who was associated with this thing is alive or around anymore to actually tell what is truth and what is fiction. So, with something so concentrated and convoluted as these personnel listings, I knew that somebody who was attached to this had to be the one to make it happen.” Bedrosian wanted to set the record straight.

A tertiary reason for preparing the book was to set arguments between fans to rest. Bedrosian said, “fans had been arguing – fighting – over this content, over who played what, who sang on what, for as long as this music has been made. There are whole groups dedicated to this on Facebook where they argue, was it this person or that person, heated debates between the super dedicated fan base.”

He dedicated 5 to 9 hours in his afternoons and evenings every day to conducting interviews and typing the book. “Within a few years, I had the makings of a completed reference book and with that had to search for publishers – which was actually one of the most daunting tasks of all.”

During the process of preparing the book, Bedrosian encountered surprises galore. “You name it! Miscrediting, uncrediting, undercrediting, wrongly crediting,” he said. He recalled, “the information had been erroneous for so long, so most albums had incomplete information or the information would be subject to the whole album and not song by song. There are hundreds of cases where an individual is listed as on an album but they were not actually on the album, or vice versa – they aren’t listed but they should be. There are several albums that were released in compilation form 20, 30 years later, and the entire liner notes are wrong. There are some cases where liner notes were written wrong on purpose, either due to infighting or due to legalist procedures. There are pseudonymic situations where names are left off.”

Despite this complexity, at a certain point, after many edits, Bedrosian told himself he was done, but even now after publication, he said, “I am still looking at the book and saying, oops, I left this out or forgot that, so a second edition will be around the corner in a couple of years, I guess.”

Armenian Cultural Connections

Bedrosian started a series of comics which present stories connected with Armenian mythology. He named the series Sons of the Sun, or Arevorti. The first issue came out in 2019 as a limited run. After three issues were released, he published a 106-page trade paperback containing the first three issues, dealing with Hayk the hero and his battle against Bel and the birth and travails of Vahagn the Dragon-reaper, including his fights against Ninos of Assyria and Barsam.

Bedrosian said, “This one has been really successful. I would say that probably 75 percent of the audience buying it are non-Armenians. My general audience [for his music] is somewhere between 15 and maybe 40 percent Armenian on average, depending on the project.”

The fourth standalone issue, on the gods Asdghig, Aramazd, Mihr and Nane, will appear soon, and once the series reaches number six or seven, Bedrosian said that another trade paperback will be issued.

In general, Bedrosian said, it is similar to the comic books on Thor and Norse mythology which have become so popular through the movies in recent years with a general, non-Scandinavian audience. Aside from the entertainment value, Bedrosian said, his comic books “teach Armenian mythology and Armenian history – dates and places that people would otherwise not know anything about…They educate people who would otherwise not know anything about us.”

Bedrosian, in addition to performing with George Clinton, as well as with his own band, Secret Army, occasionally has concerts of Armenian music. On November 11, he presented an all-Armenian set of music at the Blue Tavern in Tallahassee, Fla. He said it was a sold-out crowd and the concert was videotaped and digitized, so it will be available as part of his Patreon site (www.patreon.com/dannybedrosian). The concert included several selections from Sayat Nova, Gusan Sharam, Gomidas and Oudi Hrant. Bedrosian said he also included Armenian folk tunes from Erzerum, Kharpert, Govdun, Gavur, Bingöl and a few other places, and some slightly more modern Armenian music from Iran and from America.

After some time passes, perhaps in less than a year, it will also be turned into a free episode of his video podcast, Danny on Everything (http://dannyoneverything.com/).

Bedrosian pointed out that with the advent of digital downloads, royalties at first came to artists but as streaming became more popular, “they basically stripped us of all of our earnings. We used to get at least a dollar for every song listen, and 10-20 dollars for every album listen. Now it is a fraction of a penny for every song listen and maybe 10 cents for every album listen. It is a huge difference….Patreon pages are the best way for artists to make money digitally from their music nowadays and it is a good way for people to get my new music.”

Of course, he said, shows and sessions are still his major bread and butter because that is where he does the largest quantity of work. He concluded, “In this day and age, we just have to be multifaceted. Musicians have to be in publishing, production, education, studio, live – all that stuff – to be a successful working musician.”

For more information about Bedrosian and his involvement in Armenian music and culture, see this author’s article from 2021 in the Mirror-Spectator.

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