Con Funk Shun is a funk and R&B band formed during the late 1960s. From a backup band, Con Funk Shun eventually came out on their own with their string of R&B chart hits during the 70s music era. Among their biggest hits are “Ffun,” which is now an obscure oldies music classic. They disbanded in the 1980s but reunited later on and has actively performed since.
Con Funk Shun was formed in Vallejo, California in 1969 by high-school classmates Michael Cooper and Louis “Tony” McCall.
By the early 1970s, the group moved to Memphis, Tennessee. Initially calling themselves as Project Soul, they served as a backup band for the Soul Children. During that time, the lineup had expanded, including new members Cedric Martin (bass), Danny “Sweet Man” Thomas (keyboards), Karl Fuller (trumpet), Paul “Maceo” Harrell (woodwinds). The later inclusion of Felton Pilate (vocals, several instruments) completed the classic lineup.
They later named themselves Con Funk Shun after the title of one of the instrumental numbers (or the instrumental of the Nite Liters according to other sources).
While they didn’t perform for the Soul Children, Con Funk Shun were occupied developing their own sound. They spent their time creatively working with several staff writers at Stax Records, the ones who hired them as Soul Children’s backup artists.
In 1973, Con Funk Shun got a recording contract with the Fretone label and during the same year they released their debut LP Organized Con Funk Shun. Pilate and Cooper later emerged as the group’s primary vocalists.
The group signed with Mercury Records in 1976. Con Funk Shun would release 11 album in their almost 10-year stay in this label. They released their self-titled debut album on Mercury that same year.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Con Funk Shun enjoyed a string of hits especially on the R&B charts: “Ffun” (#23 pop, #1 R&B, 1977), “Shake and Dance with Me” (#60 pop, #5 R&B, 1973), “Chase Me” (#4 R&B, 1979), “Too Tight” (#40 pop, #25 dance, #8 R&B, 1980) “Got to Be Enough” (#101 pop, #20 dance, #8 R&B, 1980) “Baby I’m Hooked” (#76 pop, #5 R&B, 1983), Electric Lady (#102 pop, #4 R&B), and so many others.
Disbandment and later years
Tensions among the group members escalated during the 1980s. Their album Burning Love (1986) would be their last album without Pilate. Following their departure from Mercury, they stopped performing and recording and ultimately broke up in 1987.
Reunion, and present activity
Pilate became a successful producer and was behind the initial success of rapper MC Hammer. Cooper, on the other hand, became a solo artist.
The band reunited in the 1990s and has since performed in several concerts around the world. Their 11 Mercury Records albums plus their Greatest Hits have continued to be released up to the present.