Artists and friends have been paying tribute to Amp Fiddler, the highly respected and influential Detroit funk musician who died earlier this week at the age of 65. He had been suffering from cancer.
Fiddler spent the early part of his career playing keyboards with George Clinton, a gig that led to him collaborating with Prince on the song We Can Funk. He featured on Would I Lie To You?, Charles & Eddie’s global hit, and Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite, the neo-soul star’s classic debut album.
Fiddler is also credited with being the person who introduced J Dilla to the MPC, after being amazed as he watched the young producer creating tracks by dubbing from one cassette to another.
“I said, ‘Damn, if you can do that, then I can show you how to use an MPC, take those same samples and make a track,’ Fiddler told the Red Bull Music Academy in 2003. “So I watched him as I showed him how to use the machine. After hearing the same tracks, he took the same pieces that he had put together and put them into the MPC and collaged them into the same tracks. Just to see the look on his face was so amazing. He was just so excited by hearing them in the way he always wanted to hear them. It was exciting to hear that.”
Fiddler ended up introducing J Dilla to Q-Tip, whose debut album he would go on to produce. Dilla also featured on Fiddler’s 2004 album Waltz of Ghetto Fly, a minor hit. Fiddler followed this with several more LPs, the last of which, Basementality, was released in 2021.
Among those paying tribute to Fiddler was Questlove, who wrote on Instagram: “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.”
Eddie Chacon, meanwhile, said: “I'm very sad to hear the great Amp Fiddler has passed. Amp wrote and recorded with my group, Charles & Eddie, in the early to mid ‘90s. He contributed to both records as a writer and musician.
“I tried to soak in as much as I could every moment I spent with him knowing he was one of the great ones. I was 26 years old when we first worked with him. He was already a greatly respected veteran. I remember being so nervous and intimidated at first, like you are when you work with someone you admire so much, but he had a gentle way of mining the gold in the artists he worked with and before long he felt like a close friend. I still draw from what he taught me when i'm making music and am so grateful to have known him. Walking down a NYC street in Chelsea deeply engrossed in conversation with Amp feels like yesterday. Rest in peace my friend and thanks for all of the beauty.”