George Clinton

George Clinton

    On the 1979 album Uncle Jam Wants You, George Clinton stated his mission loud and clear: he's here "Saving Dance Music From The Blahs."  This succinct quote doesn't satisfactorily describe the length and breadth of Clinton's music. For a half century, Clinton has been THE MAN for a legion of fans who wanted some uncut funk, a slash of rock, a sprinkle of jazz or all of the above. You can believe Clinton when he says on his MySpace page: "I'm influenced by almost everything I've ever seen or heard".

    Clinton was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina 22 July 1940 or 1941 (depending on which source you trust), and grew up in New Jersey.  

    He formed the doo-wop group The Parliaments in 1955 while working in a barbershop, and later moved them to Detroit to audition for Motown. The Parliaments ended up on the small independent label Revilot, but Clinton did obtain some work as a songwriter for Motown. The group had one hit in 1967 with the title track from their album I Wanna Testify.     At the end of the 60s, Clinton was involved in a dispute with Revilot regarding The Parliaments name but he regained the legal right to use the name in 1969.

    In the 70s,The Parliaments morphed into Parliament and Funkadelic. Clinton was then producing R&B influenced by Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, MC5, Sly & The Family Stone, Cream and Frank Zappa among others.  Their concert audiences were treated to fantastic spectacle, including a life-sized spaceship - The Mothership - with myriad characters in futuristic costumes wandering around the stage. Funkadelic was more rock-oriented while Parliament was an outlet for experimenting with different styles of music and vocals, from funk to jazz to hints of opera. However, over the years the sound and personnel of the two groups have fused into one.

    Clinton's first album release with the P-Funk crew was Funkadelic in 1970. However his most successful period on the charts was the late 70's: the 1976 Parliament album Mothership Connection achieved platinum status and produced three successful singles: the title track, "P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)" and "Tear The Roof Off The Sucker." Their most successful single was 1978's "One Nation Under A Groove,"from the album of the same name. Then in 1979, the album Uncle Jam Wants You spawned the hit single "Not Just Knee Deep."  

    In 1980, Clinton experienced professional difficulties due to Polygram's acquisition of Parliament's label, Casablanca, and therefore the group's name.  Retaining the same musicians he then performed under the name P-Funk Allstars. In 1982 Clinton signed to Capitol both as a solo artist and under P-Funk Allstars banner.

    During much of the three-year period from 1986 to 1989, Clinton became embroiled in further legal difficulties (the result of recording with 40 musicians under three different names for four different labels ).  However, he kept going - in 1989, Clinton signed a contract with Prince's Paisley Park label and released his fifth solo studio album, The Cinderella Theory.

    Clinton continued his varied workload during the 90s, including the Greatest Funkin' Hits album in 1996, on which he revisited old P-Funk hits with new-school rappers such as Digital Underground, Ice Cube, and Q-Tip.  In 1997 Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and presented with a Lifetime Achievement award from the NAACP.

    The early years of the noughties produced various live and greatest hits albums; additionally in 2005 the P-Funk Allstars offered up an album of new music called How late do u have 2bb4u r absent?

    In 2008, Clinton is keeping the funk alive. His latest album, George Clinton and his Gangsters of Love,  includes guests such as El Debarge, Carlos Santana, Sly Stone, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.  Songs like Marvin Gaye's "Aint That Peculiar," Barry White's "Never Never Gonna Give You Up" and Bobby Rydell's "Kissin' Time" are reworked - and Clinton sounds as fresh as ever.  He continues to tour with varying P-Funk personnel (some of them from the original lineup), with concerts still averaging 3 hours.

    Over the years, the P-Funk sound has influenced artists like Prince, Rick James, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Cameo and Outkast.  Clinton is also one of the most sampled musicians ever, reportedly second only to James Brown. His music has been featured in hits like De La Soul's "Me, Myself and I," which sampled "Not Just Knee Deep," and Snoop Dogg's "Who Am I (What's My Name)?" -  one of the many songs to sample Clinton's "Atomic Dog."

    The P-Funk AllStars celebrated their 40th anniversary this year - and to quote another George Clinton tune, this could be a Never Ending Story.

    Carol Jack 2008

    Featured Album - ASCENDANT - Illuminate: Yellow
    Choice Cut - Fred Reed - "Tug Of War"