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24 September 2014

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Roots music

George Clinton
Mr George Clinton

What the Funk?

by Yve Ngoo
George Clinton, the President of P-Funk, the brother from another planet, zaps into town via the Mothership. What the Funkidy Funkidy Funk!! Pin back your ears Funkateers!

George Clinton, Friday 14 July 7:30 pm, The Sage Gateshead

George Clinton
The original Atomic Dog

He’s the original Atomic Dog, and he ain’t no regular Huckleberry Hound!

George Clinton is one the most influential and singular musicians of the 70s. Through the vehicles of Parliament and Funkadelic he took rock, funk and psychedelia, added a healthy dose of Afro-futurism and conspiracy theory, to produce a multi-faceted cosmic pantomime; providing ‘edutainement’ to anyone whose ears were tough enough to listen.

For those who follow the funk, (George calls them ‘Funkateers’), he’s the main man.

The Innovator

George Clinton is one of the greatest innovators of urban based soul, rock and funk over the last forty years.

George Clinton
George proves he's still in the hood

Now George has created his own label, ‘The C Kunspyruhzy’ and is releasing his first studio album in over a decade.

Clinton also plans to release ‘The Uncut Funk Series’ a collection of ‘Parliament-Funkadelic’, and ‘P-Funk All Stars’ live recordings, incorporating some of the best shows over the past 30 years.

George says, “We got four generations of fans out there who keep bugging me to get these live shows out there, and now’s the time.

I’ve seen what the Grateful Dead have been doing with their archives, as well as bands like Pearl Jam, and I figured it was time to show the world what the funk is all about.”

"We got four generations of fans out there who keep bugging me to get these live shows out there, and now’s the time!"
George Clinton

Mr Clinton has been showing the world what the funk he’s all about for almost half a century.

George began his career in a relatively conventional and melodic doo-wop group, and over the years has straddled many music genres, from rock to psychedelia to hip hop - remaining one of the most out-there maestros of contemporary black music.

King of Breaks

In 1993, Clinton, undoubtedly, the King of Breaks, made one of the most benevolent gestures in music; he released ‘Sample Some of Disc – Sample Some of D.A.T’, a five CD issue of breaks and beats; ready to sample looped bites. This was a gift to rappers, D-Jays and musicians world wide, who until then had been illegally sampling P-Funk material.

The world’s second ever hip-hop record, ‘Funk You Up’ by girl group, ‘Sequence’, copied the vocals from Parliament’s ludicrously funked-up album ‘Mothership Connection’.

George Clinton
George Clinton back in the day

Ironically however, George has rarely profited from use of P-Funk breaks and beats. When groups clear and pay for samples, the money goes to the record companies and rarely to the musicians who made the songs.

Early Days

While growing up in 1950s New Jersey, George was a fan of doo-wop boyband, Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers. After seeing them perform at a talent show, he decided it was time to get up and do his thing, and founded ‘The Parliments’. Following a move to Detriot, the group finally hit pay dirt with their Number One R&B hit “(I Just Wanna) Testify” in 1967.

In 1968, George formed Funkadelic, a then (and still) visionary collective that combined acid rock with primal funk.

Never one to do things by halves, George then renamed and rebranded Funkladelic, calling them Parliament, and signed to Casablanca Records. He then signed Funkadelic to Warner Brothers in 1976!

George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars
George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars

George now had two powerhouse bands signed to two different labels (even though each band consisted of the same members). As George explained, “Parliament was more orchestrated with horns and complicated vocal arrangements while Funkadelic was more a straight up rock band with a heavy rhythm section.”

With both acts, George had created and captured the very essence of funk. Parliament was hitting with dance floor with jams like ‘Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk)’, ‘Aqua Boogie’, ‘Flashlight’ and ‘Bop Gun.’ Meanwhile, Funakdelic was also firing up the dance generation with with anthemic funk classics – many as extended super 12 inch mixes, such as ‘(Not Just) Knee Deep’ and ‘One Nation Under A Groove’.

Throughout the 70s and early 80s, George soldiered on as a solo act. In 1983 he had a number one in the US charts with the urban smash ‘Atomic Dog’.

Despite the changing times and musical trends, George remained true to the funk and recorded a number of albums for Prince’s Paisley Park in the 1980s and 90s.

Since then, George and the P-Funk All Stars have played Woodstock, starred in a popular Nike ad during the 2002 NBA playoffs, and gave a  show stopping live performance with OutKast at the 2004 Grammy Awards.

Now, in 2006 prepare for the mother of all gigs, when George Clinton makes his debut at The Sage Gateshead on Friday 14 July.

last updated: 09/11/06
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