By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
He's gone gray now, but there are still colorful feathers and ribbons tied in the hair of George Clinton. At age 62, he still gives up the funk, musically as well as sartorially. Clinton started out in the '50s with a talented but tame doo-wop group he christened the Parliaments. During the psychedelic era, he shifted gears and took Parliament (minus the "s") into a radical new direction that forever separated him from the slick Motown-dominated R&B of the day. He also began recording rock-oriented records with the same musicians but under a different name: Funkadelic.
With the aid of a cadre of musicians that constitutes a who's-who of funk, including keyboardist Bernie Worrell, bassist Bootsy Collins, guitarist Eddie Hazel and horn men Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley, among many others, Clinton gave us some of the most potent funk records of the '70s: Funkadelic's "Free Your Mind ... and Your Ass Will Follow," "Maggot Brain," and "One Nation Under a Groove" and Parliament's "Up for the Down Stroke" "Mothership Connection," "The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein" and "Funkytelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome."
These days, Clinton records sporadically and tours with several of his former mates, now known as the P-Funk All Stars, and his shows are still long, sweaty sessions of uncut funk. And, happily, he's finally getting the acclaim he deserves. A member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame since 1997, he was most recently honored with a Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Award. At the ceremony last month, Clinton modestly stated that his music is "the DNA for hip-hop, for alternative, for techno and everything else." Yeah, it's quite a claim, but does anyone really wanna dispute it?