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George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic


George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic On tour

Spring 2020


George Clinton was born on July 22, 1941, in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, Clinton began his music career in the 1950s while working at a barbershop in Newark, New Jersey. Having also been influenced by mambo, he founded a doo-wop singing quintet he called the Parliaments out of the shop's backroom. When Clinton headed to Detroit in the early 1960s to work as a staff songwriter for Berry Gordy's Motown, the group stayed in New Jersey but continued to work together long distance.

Landing a deal with Revilot Records, the Parliaments turned out their first hit in 1967 with the single "(I Just Wanna) Testify," which landed at No. 3 on the Billboard R&B charts. The only member of The Parliaments to actually appear on the recording, however, was Clinton; no one else was able to travel to Detroit for the session, so studio musicians filled in.

Parliament and Funkadelic

When Revilot went bankrupt later that year, the group's name became tied up in litigation. In 1968, they renamed themselves Funkadelic, after Clinton's backup band. In 1972, when Clinton was finally able to get back the Parliament name, the group began using both the Parliament and Funkadelic monikers, but under different record labels. Often referring to himself as "the Referee," Clinton mixed and matched the musicians and singers in his groups, which helped maintain a fresh, innovative sound.

Inspired by the sounds of revolutionary bands like the Stooges and MC 5 as well as musicians Jimi HendrixFrank Zappa and Sly Stone, Clinton began looking for ways to experiment with his musical compositions. Parliament explored and invented new sounds through funk—a twist on soul that included psychedelic guitar, deep bass groove and out-of-the-box sound effects—while Funkadelic cultivated a rock sound.

Commercial Success

Eventually featuring contributions from prominent band members Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins, Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic released more than 40 R&B hit singles and several gold and platinum albums during the '70s, all while cultivating an otherworldly, edgy aesthetic partially inspired by sci-fi. Their output included such albums like Mothership Connection (1975), Chocolate City (1975), The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (1976) and Motor Booty Affair (1978) as well as the R&B top 10 hits "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk), "Flash Light," "One Nation Under a Groove," "Aqua Boogie" and "(Not Just) Knee Deep," with the latter four singles topping the charts. 

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