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Background informationDefunkt_header_cell_0_1_0
OriginDefunkt_header_cell_0_2_0 New York City, New York, United StatesDefunkt_cell_0_2_1
GenresDefunkt_header_cell_0_3_0 Jazz fusion, punk jazz, dance-punk, avant-funk, experimentalDefunkt_cell_0_3_1
Years activeDefunkt_header_cell_0_4_0 1978 (1978)–presentDefunkt_cell_0_4_1
Associated actsDefunkt_header_cell_0_5_0 James White and the BlacksDefunkt_cell_0_5_1
WebsiteDefunkt_header_cell_0_6_0 Defunkt_cell_0_6_1
MembersDefunkt_header_cell_0_8_0 Joseph Bowie

Kim Clarke Ronnie Drayton Bill Bickford John Mulkerin Kenny MartinDefunkt_cell_0_8_1

Past membersDefunkt_header_cell_0_10_0 see belowDefunkt_cell_0_10_1

Defunkt is an American musical group, founded by the trombonist and singer Joseph Bowie in 1978 in New York City. Defunkt_sentence_0

Their music touches on elements of punk rock, funk, and jazz. Defunkt_sentence_1

Career Defunkt_section_0

Joseph Bowie is the brother of big band musician Byron Bowie and Art Ensemble of Chicago co-founder Lester Bowie. Defunkt_sentence_2

Joseph, who had previously worked as a sideman for various 1970s jazz musicians, founded Defunkt in 1978 with members of a band that had backed James Chance. Defunkt_sentence_3

The new group's original focus was on danceable jazz music. Defunkt_sentence_4

Joseph Bowie remains the only consistent member of the group over its history; he has been noted for displaying the influence of far-ranging musicians like Ornette Coleman, James Brown, and Joe Strummer. Defunkt_sentence_5

The first incarnation of the group was active in New York City's "No Wave" radical underground music scene, which also included fusion-oriented groups like Material and Sonic Youth. Defunkt_sentence_6

Joseph's saxohonist brother Bryon, bassist Melvin Gibbs and future Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid were early contributors. Defunkt_sentence_7

The group's debut self-titled album was released in 1980 and combined the band's original jazz focus with soul, funk, rock, and blues. Defunkt_sentence_8

That album was particularly popular in Eastern Europe and Japan. Defunkt_sentence_9

Their second album Thermonuclear Sweat followed in 1982. Defunkt_sentence_10

Bowie disbanded the group in 1983 due to a lack of mainstream success, and retired to the island of St. Defunkt_sentence_11 Croix for a few years. Defunkt_sentence_12

He returned to New York in 1986 and assembled a new Defunkt lineup, with the addition of multiple singers and a large horn section to pursue a new focus on combining 1930s big band and swing music with 1970s funk. Defunkt_sentence_13

This incarnation of the group, with many lineup changes under Bowie's leadership, has released several additional studio albums, starting with In America in 1988. Defunkt_sentence_14

Their latest album, Mastervolt, was released in 2015. Defunkt_sentence_15

Musical style Defunkt_section_1

AllMusic described the Defunkt's music as "some of the most adventurous sounds of the last quarter of the 20th century." Defunkt_sentence_16

Trouser Press has praised the group's later works for "a dynamic rock-funk-jazz concoction of popping bass, neck-melting guitar [...] and Bowie’s inventive trombone figures and up-close-and-personable vocals." Defunkt_sentence_17

Discography Defunkt_section_2


  • Defunkt (1980)Defunkt_item_0_0
  • The Razor’s Edge (12"-Maxi-Single, 1981)Defunkt_item_0_1
  • Thermonuclear Sweat (1982)Defunkt_item_0_2
  • In America (1988)Defunkt_item_0_3
  • Avoid the Funk: a Defunkt Anthology (Compilation, 1988)Defunkt_item_0_4
  • Heroes (1990)Defunkt_item_0_5
  • Live at the Knitting Factory (Live, 1991)Defunkt_item_0_6
  • Crisis (1992)Defunkt_item_0_7
  • Cum Funky (1993)Defunkt_item_0_8
  • Live and Reunified (Live, 1993)Defunkt_item_0_9
  • A Blues Tribute to Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix (1994)Defunkt_item_0_10
  • One World (1995)Defunkt_item_0_11
  • Defunkt live in Stuttgart (Live, 1996)Defunkt_item_0_12
  • The Legend of Defunkt, Volume 1 (Compilation, 2001)Defunkt_item_0_13
  • Defunkt – The Legend Continues (2001)Defunkt_item_0_14
  • Defunkt Live in Europe (Live-Doppelalbum, 2002)Defunkt_item_0_15
  • Journey (2004)Defunkt_item_0_16
  • Defunkt + Thermonuclear Sweat (2005)Defunkt_item_0_17
  • Mastervolt (2015)Defunkt_item_0_18
  • Live at Channel Zero (2016)Defunkt_item_0_19

Members Defunkt_section_3

Current Defunkt_section_4


  • Joseph Bowietrombone, vocalsDefunkt_item_1_20
  • Kim Clarke – bassDefunkt_item_1_21
  • Bill Bickford – guitarDefunkt_item_1_22
  • John Mulkerin – trumpetDefunkt_item_1_23
  • Kenny Martin – drumsDefunkt_item_1_24

Former Defunkt_section_5


  • Ronny Drayton - guitarDefunkt_item_2_25
  • Kelvyn Bell – guitarDefunkt_item_2_26
  • Ayodele Maakheru (Martin Aubert) – guitarDefunkt_item_2_27
  • Vernon Reid – guitarDefunkt_item_2_28
  • Richard Martin – guitarDefunkt_item_2_29
  • Melvin Gibbs – bassDefunkt_item_2_30
  • Ron Mac Jenkins – bassDefunkt_item_2_31
  • Reggie Washington - bassDefunkt_item_2_32
  • Ted Daniels – trumpetDefunkt_item_2_33
  • Byron Bowie – saxophoneDefunkt_item_2_34
  • Luther Thomas - saxophoneDefunkt_item_2_35
  • Charles Green - saxophoneDefunkt_item_2_36
  • Alex Harding – baritone saxophoneDefunkt_item_2_37
  • Ronnie Burrage – drumsDefunkt_item_2_38
  • Rishard Lampese - guitarDefunkt_item_2_39
  • Skoota Warner – drumsDefunkt_item_2_40
  • Tobias Ralph – drumsDefunkt_item_2_41
  • Kahil El'ZabarpercussionDefunkt_item_2_42
  • Kelli Sae - vocalsDefunkt_item_2_43
  • Martin Fischer – keyboardsDefunkt_item_2_44
  • Marcus Persiani – keyboardsDefunkt_item_2_45
  • Kevin Bents – keyboardsDefunkt_item_2_46
  • Bahnamous Bowie – keyboardsDefunkt_item_2_47
  • Adam Klipple – keyboardsDefunkt_item_2_48
  • Cliff Branch – keyboardsDefunkt_item_2_49

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: