After a stellar career that produced eight top-selling jazz CDs and one gospel project, prepare yourself for a different side of Wayman Tisdale—one that was 12 years in the making!
It’s The Fonk Record featuring 11 original songs, Tisdale’s own funky vocals and a crew of down-and-dirty musicians, The Fonk Record also boasts three guest stars with extensive funk résumés—George Clinton, George Duke and Ali Woodson.
To those who knew him best, it seemed only natural that Tisdale would craft a funk project. “He always wanted to make funk music,” says Derek (DOA) Allen, who produced The Fonk Record and was one of Tisdale’s closest friends. “People are going to see a whole ‘nother side of Wayman on this record—he was on a mission to play as hard and funky as he could.”
Tisdale confided in Allen that a funk project was something he always wanted to do. At first it was a playful joke with a few demos here and there. Inspired by great funk artists like Bootsy Collins and Robert Wilson of the Gap Band, Tisdale created his own funky moniker: Tiz and named his band The Fonkie Planetarians. His power source came from Stinky the Sock! Those who were lucky enough to catch Tisdale in concert got a glimpse of his alter ego when he’d perform 20 to 30-minute funk-filled interludes during his jazz shows. “If you saw it, you knew it was the most explosive part of his show,” Allen says. “That’s when the party got started!”
But Tisdale was way too busy with his successful jazz career to focus attention on his fonk. Between hosting jazz cruises, headlining tours, and being an active and loving husband and father, there wasn’t much time. One thing changed that: a diagnosis of cancer in 2007. Tisdale could not ignore his alter ego any longer. “He spent the last two years of his life finishing The Fonk Record,” says Allen. “Only he knew, when no one else did, that God was going to call him home. While he was in the hospital getting chemotherapy, he used funk music as therapy. I would send him files to listen to and it was part of the healing process. When he died, he was at peace.
Tisdale died on the morning of May 15, 2009, at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, where his wife had taken him when he had trouble breathing. Tisdale’s agent described his death as a “great shock” and noted that Tisdale had been planning to go into the recording studio the following week for a project with jazz guitarist Norman Brown. Tisdale and his wife, Regina, had four children.
Wayman Tisdale published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.