Maceo Parker

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Maceo Parker
Maceo Parker 2002.jpg
Parker performing at the 2002 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
Background information
Born (1943-02-14) February 14, 1943 (age 79)
Kinston, North Carolina, United States
Genres Funk, soul jazz, P-Funk
Occupation(s) Musician, band leader
Instruments Saxophone, flute, vocals
Years active 1962–present
Labels Verve Records, What Are Records?, Heads Up Minor Music
Associated acts James Brown, Maceo & All the King's Men, Maceo & the Macks, The J.B.'s, Parliament, Prince, Horny Horns

Maceo Parker (/ˈms/; born February 14, 1943) is an American funk and soul jazz saxophonist, best known for his work with James Brown in the 1960s, as well as Parliament-Funkadelic in the 1970s. Parker was a prominent soloist on many of Brown's hit recordings, and a key part of his band, playing alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. Since the early 1990s, he has toured under his own name.[1]


Parker was born in Kinston, North Carolina. His father played piano and drums; his mother and father both sang in church. His brother Melvin played drums and his brother Kellis trombone.[2] He and his brother Melvin joined James Brown in 1964; in his autobiography, Brown says that he originally wanted Melvin as his drummer, but agreed to take Maceo under his wing as part of the deal.[3] In 1970 Parker, his brother Melvin, and a few of Brown's band members left to found Maceo & All the King's Men, which toured for two years.[4]

In 1974, Parker returned to James Brown. He also charted a single "Parrty – Part I" (#71 pop singles) with Maceo & the Macks that year. In 1975, Parker and some of Brown's band members, including Fred Wesley, left to join George Clinton's band Parliament-Funkadelic.[5] Parker once again re-joined James Brown from 1984 to 1988.

In the 1990s, Parker began a solo career. His first album of this period "Roots Revisited" spent 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts To date he has released 11 solo albums since 1990. His band has been billed as "the greatest little funk orchestra on earth" and the "million-dollar support band".

Maceo Parker at the Liri Blues Festival, Italy, in 2009

His 1992 live album "Life on Planet Groove" is considered to be the seminal live album, marking his first collaboration with Dutch saxophonist

Candy Dulfer.

In 1993, Parker made guest appearances on hip hop group De La Soul's album Buhloone Mindstate. In the late 1990s, Parker began contributing semi-regularly to recordings by Prince and accompanying his band, The New Power Generation, on tour. He also played on the Jane's Addiction track "My Cat's Name Is Maceo" for their 1997 compilation album Kettle Whistle. In 1998, Parker performed as a guest on "What Would You Say" on a Dave Matthews Band concert, which also became one of their live albums, Live in Chicago 12.19.98.

In 2007, Parker performed as part of Prince's band for Prince's 21 nights at the O2 arena. Parker also played as part of Prince's band for his 21-night stay at LA's Forum in 2011.

Parker's album Roots & Grooves with the WDR Big Band is a tribute to Ray Charles, whom Parker cites as one of his most important influences. The album won a Jammie for best Jazz Album in 2009. Parker followed this up with another collaboration with WDR Big Band in 2012 with the album Soul Classics.

In October 2011, Parker was inducted in the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.[6]

In July 2012 Parker was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Victoires Du Jazz in Paris. He continues touring, headlining many jazz festivals in Europe.

In May 2016 Parker will receive The North Carolina Heritage Award from his home state.[7]


Maceo Parker playing a Western Concert Flute at Jazz Cafe (london) 22 May 2009


In 2013, Parker published his autobiography, 98% Funky Stuff My Life in Music (ISBN 978-1613743461, Chicago Review Press).[8]


Maceo plays Selmer Mark VI, (one of which he has had goldplated) and a Brilhart Ebolin mouthpiece 3. He uses Vandoren Java 3 and a half reeds.[9]

In media

Parker was portrayed by Craig Robinson in the 2014 James Brown biopic Get on Up.


  1. Maceo Parker, 98% Funky Stuff: My Life in Music, Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-61374-346-1
  2. Thompson, Dave (2001). Funk. Backbeat Books. pp. 176-179. ISBN 0-87930-629-7.
  3. Brown, James (1988). The Godfather of Soul (with Bruce Tucker), Fontana / Collins, p. 156. ISBN 0-00-637256-2.
  4. Brown (1988). The Godfather of Soul, pp. 217-18.
  5. Wesley, Fred Jr (2002), Hit Me, Fred. Duke University Press, p. 192. ISBN 0-8223-2909-3.
  6. "Inductee – Maceo Parker". North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012-04-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Eight North Carolinians to Receive Prestigious Heritage Award". 2015-09-04. Retrieved 2016-01-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Maceo Parker. "98% Funky Stuff: My Life in Music". ISBN 9781613743461. Retrieved 2016-01-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Maceo Parker Frequently Asked Questions, FAQ". Retrieved 2014-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links