"Heaven just got a bit funkier."
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Calvin Simon, a founding member of the pioneering funk music group Parliament-Funkadelic, died Thursday at age 79. A cause of death was not immediately available.

The news was confirmed Saturday by a post on Simon's official Facebook page. "[Thanks] everyone for the wonderful memories... we will so miss you Calvin... but love the thought that heaven just got a bit funkier," the post reads.

Simon's former bandmates George Clinton and Bootsy Collins paid tribute to the vocalist on social media.

"Rest in peace to my P-Funk brother Mr. Calvin Simon," Clinton wrote on Facebook. "Longtime Parliament-Funkadelic vocalist. Fly on Calvin!"

On Instagram, Collins wrote, "We lost another Original member of Parliament/Funkadelic. A friend, bandmate & a cool classic guy, Mr. Calvin Simon was a former member of Parliament/Funkadelic. He's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen members of P-Funk!"

Born on May 22, 1942 in Beckley, West Virginia where he sang with his church choir for weekly radio broadcasts, Simon joined the group originally known as the Parliaments in the late 1950s, after he and his family relocated to New Jersey when he was a teen. What began as a doo-wop barber shop quintet with fellow barbers Grady Thomas and Clinton and customers Ray Davis and Fuzzy Haskins culminated into a record contract and hit singles, namely, "(I Wanna) Testify," which charted on R&B and pop charts after its 1967 debut.

Simon was drafted for the Vietnam War shortly after, returning to the group after two years of service. He then joined Parliament-Funkadelic, a funk music collective of rotating musicians headed by Clinton that released hits "Give Up the Funk" and "Flash Light," among others. Simon left the band in 1978 and returned to his church roots, releasing gospel albums under his own label. His debut gospel album Share the News released in 2004, when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

"Since the cancer was in the thyroid against my vocal cords, I was certain my music career was over and at this point I walked away from music," Simon shared of the diagnosis on his website. "Apparently God had other plans and had enough forethought to know I needed to be home at that time." He released two more albums, It's Not Too Late in 2016 and I Believe in 2018, following his recovery. In 1997, he and other Parliament-Funkadelic members were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2019, the group received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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