George Clinton is an American treasure. As one of the foremost innovators of Funk, Clinton is the mastermind behind the legendary Parliament/Funkadelic, creating a uniquely identifiable and timeless art that has lifted Funk from what was once considered a simple style to an internationally recognized and respected musical genre. His incredible ingenuity has earned George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic their rightful place in music history: an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recipients of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
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 developed an act/sound which merged the polish of Motown acts, the rawness of James Brown, the bohemian style of Sly Stone and the pop sensibility of the Beatles – and forever set himself apart from the Motown era. By the early ’70s, the group's tight songs evolved into sprawling jams around funky rhythms. They dropped the "s" from the band’s name and Parliament was born. Around the same time, Clinton spawned Funkadelic, a rock group which fused acid-rock guitar, 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. Rolling Stone and Spin recently identified Parliament/Funkadelic as one of the top bands of all time.
1975 was a seminal year for Clinton: with the country caught up in the Watergate fallout and the Space Race, the wildly imaginative Clinton was busy redefining the possibilities of funk music and advancing the rise of Afrofuturism. That year Parliament put out two albums, Chocolate City (envisioning a post-Watergate America with Muhammed Ali as president and Aretha Franklin as First Lady) and Mothership Connection, a sci-fi tale in which Black aliens land on Earth with a simple message to earthlings: “Ain’t nothin’ but a party y’all”. With music designed to “Put a dip in your hip and a glide in your stride,” the album included songs like “P-Funk (Wants to get Funked Up),” “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” and the group's first gold single, “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)”.
These releases became instant dancefloor anthems and sparked funk's biggest crossover movement to date. The live performances of these recordings -which Clinton identified as a funk opera - climaxed with a giant spaceship landing at center stage and Clinton emerging as “Dr. Funkenstein,” which some have called the greatest single moment in the history of Funk.
Clinton's dancefloor dominance continued throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s with releases like “Flashlight,” “One Nation Under a Groove,” “(Not Just) Knee Deep” and “Aqua Boogie,” reaching its peak with the 1983 George Clinton solo release of “Atomic Dog,” which took the term "dancefloor anthem" to a new level. With its infectious beat and unique melodic structure, “Atomic Dog” remains as popular with young audiences today as it was when it was first released. Today “Atomic Dog” can be heard not only in the clubs, on campus, and at the cookout, but also in commercials (E-Trade) and numerous movies (102 Dalmatians, Trolls World Tour). It was sampled countless times, most notably by Snoop Dogg on his smash “Snoop Dogg (What’s My Name Pt. 2).”
Indeed, Clinton’s P-Funk, with its infectious groove and irresistible beats, became a go-to source for countless early rap recordings. As Clinton has said, "Funk is the DNA of hip-hop and rap." Being the most sampled artist, Clinton has become recognized as the godfather of modern urban music. Beats, loops, and samples of P-Funk have appeared on albums by 2Pac, OutKast, Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, De La Soul, Fishbone, Ice Cube, Public Enemy and Childish Gambino, to name but a few. Clinton’s collaborated with Kendrick Lamar on the influential rapper’s Grammy-winning album To Pimp a Butterfly.
Through it all, Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic have maintained a rigorous touring schedule that would test artists 50 years his junior. Considered by many to be one of the original jam bands, Parliament/Funkadelic’s 2-to-4 hour performances appeal to and attract many of the same fans that populate concerts by The Dead, Phish, and Dave Matthews.
Celebrating his 80th year on planet Earth, Clinton is as busy as ever. In addition to touring, he is working on three recording projects that feature collaborations with a “who's who” of top artists from the last four decades. And he has started a new career as a graphic artist; his paintings were prominently displayed during Art Basel in Miami.