Amp Fiddler, a keyboardist for George Clinton’s pioneering funk collective Parliament-Funkadelic and mentor to late Detroit producer J Dilla, has died. He was 65 years old.
The funk and soul musician had been recovering from a 2022 surgery for an undisclosed illness. A GoFundMe campaign launched last year raised more than $75,000 for Fiddler’s “continued healing as he journeys back to the stage,” and a benefit concert was held in his hometown of Detroit earlier this month to further cover medical expenses.
“Rest in eternal musical excellence Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Joseph Anthony “Amp” Fiddler (May 17th, 1958-December 17th, 2023),” Parliament-Funkadelic wrote on Facebook. “Fly on Amp! We love you dearly!”
Questlove paid tribute to Fiddler on Instagram, writing, “Rest easy brother Amp. For all those talks during the Pfunk tour. For all the music. Especially of course mentoring the one who mentored us (Dilla) — thank you brother.”
Born Joseph Anthony Fiddler on , the artist took piano lessons as a child before beginning his music career in the early 1980s as a backup keyboardist and vocalist. After scoring a touring gig with the R&B group Enchantment, his first big break was as a keyboardist for Parliament-Funkadelic from 1985 to 1996.
Fiddler helped launch the influential career of J Dilla, whom he taught how to use the Akai MPC sampling drum machine and introduced to A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip. Besides Enchantment and Parliament-Funkadelic, Fiddler also worked with Prince, Maxwell, Jamiroquai, Moodymann, and many others.
In 1990, Fiddler teamed with his brother, Bubz, under the alias Mr. Fiddler and released the album With Respect. He followed with a proper debut solo album, Waltz of a Ghetto Fly, in 2004. Fiddler’s most recent studio album was 2017’s Amp Dog Knights.
A GoFundMe has been launched to cover Fiddler’s memorial service and other funeral expenses.