By Devon “Doc” Wendell
July 22, 2016 may be the 75th birthday of George “Dr. Funkenstein” Clinton but the good doctor shows now signs of getting old and slowing down. He’s still out there touring with Parliament/Funkadelic, spreading funk all over the World. No one has done more for the genre of funk than George Clinton. Who else could have taken tipsy doo-wop vocal arrangements and fused them with psychedelic rock, groundbreaking electronic dance music, gospel, blues and just about any style you can think of and made it into something so timeless and irresistible? George has this ability of putting together musicians you never would have dreamed would have been able to work together much less be in the same room with one another and it always results in something magical.
George’s concepts have always been silly and serious at the same time. Parliament’s 1978 classic The Motor Booty Affair addresses the realities of black life in America disguised as an underwater funk opera. The music is gloriously filthy and lively but the message is deeper than deep and that’s just one of hundreds of examples. Can anyone actually feel bad and judgmental when listening to Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep” or One Nation Under A Groove in its entirety? I wouldn’t believe in a million years that it would be possible and you will find yourself shaking your ass in the process. P-Funk unifies people like no other music in the galaxy.
In high school, I was introduced to P-Funk and have been a hardcore funkateer ever since. I have every album by Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Parlet, Brides Of Funkentein, Eddie Hazel, Bernie Worrell, and The P-Funk Allstars ever released and then some. George Clinton’s influence gave birth to hip-hop. No artists in history has been sampled more and try to imagine how many rock bands who have used Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain and Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On as blue prints for their sound. You hear the influence of P-Funk everywhere. Parliament’s Mothership Connection and Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome transformed dance music forever. They are both essential albums for any collection like John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Jimi Hendrix’s Band Of Gypsys, Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue, and Sgt. Pepper by The Beatles.
Like Miles Davis, George refuses to become an “old relic.” He’s worked and continues to work with the most popular and innovative artists in hip-hop. George even won a Grammy for his contributions to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly this past year. There would be no Prince or The Red Hot Chili Peppers without George Clinton. George will always be out there with the youth of the World, bringing funk into the cutting edge as he’s always done.
Of course, George didn’t do it alone. The mothership is filled with essential musical contributors that make up The Parliafunkadelicment Thang such as Bernie Worrell, William “Bootsy” Collins, Garry Shider, Eddie Hazel, Billy “Bass” Nelson, Tiki Fullwood, Mallia Franklin, Michael Hampton, Walter “Junie” Morrison, Cordell “Boogie” Mosson, Tyrone Lampkin, Rodney “Skeet” Curtis, Ray Davis, Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins, Grady Thomas, Glenn Goins, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, Rick Gardner, Richard “Kush” Griffith, Gary “Mudbone” Cooper, Jerome “Big Foot” Brailey, Dawn Silva, Lynn Mabry, Ron Ford, Ron Dunbar, Frankie “Kash” Waddy, Dewayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight, Belita Woods Michael “Clip” Payne, Sheila Brody, Danny Bedrosian, Jerome Rodgers, Jeff Bunn, Lige Curry, Kendra Foster, Garrett Shider, Greg Thomas, Benny Cowan, Greg Boyer, Benzel Cowan and many, many more.
Happy Birthday, George Clinton and please keep serving up your one of a kind, uncut funk; the planet needs it now more than ever.