August 16, 2014
George Clinton is one of the foremost innovators of funk music, and was the mastermind behind the bands Parliament and Funkadelic.
Clinton started his career with the Parliaments, a barbershop doo-wop ensemble, which scored a major hit with “I Wanna Testify” in 1967. Clinton then began experimenting with harmonies, melody, and rhythm, and taking cues from the psychedelic movement, forever setting himself apart from the Motown era. By the early 1970s, the group’s tight songs evolved into sprawling jams around funky rhythms. They dropped the “s” from the band name and Parliament was born. Around the same time, Clinton spawned Funkadelic, a rock group which fused psychedelic guitar distortion, bizarre sound effects, and cosmological rants with danceable beats and booming bass lines. Funkadelic recorded a number of influential concept albums, including Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow, Maggot Brain, and America Eats Its Young.
Parliament and Funkadelic captured 40 hit R&B singles, including No. 1 hits “Flashlight,” “One Nation Under a Groove,” “Aqua Boogie,” and “(Not Just) Knee Deep.” Clinton’s collaborators included keyboardist Bernie Worrell, guitarist Eddie Hazel, bassist Bootsy Collins, saxophonist Maceo Parker, trombonist Fred Wesley. On stage, spectacle ruled the day, with an enormous mothership, outrageous costumes, and marathon performances.
The Godfather of Funk has also become recognized as the godfather of modern urban music. Beats, loops, and samples of P-Funk have appeared on albums by OutKast, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, De La Soul, Fishbone, and many others. As Clinton has said, “funk is the DNA of hip-hop and rap.”
In 1997, Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Guitar Center’s Hollywood Rock Walk, and earned a Lifetime Achievement Award at the NAACP Image Awards. In 2002, Spin voted Parliament-Funkadelic No. 6 of the 50 Greatest Bands of All Time. At the start of the 2012, Berklee College of Music President Roger H. Brown presented Dr. Clinton with an honorary doctor of music degree in recognition for the funk icon’s enduring musical and cultural contributions. Clinton continues his never ending musical journey, playing to sold-out shows across the globe.
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