George Clinton (born July 22, 1941) is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and music producer and the principal architect of P-Funk. He was the mastermind of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic during the 1970s and early 1980s, and launched a solo career in 1981. He has been cited as one of the foremost innovators of funk music, along with James Brown and Sly Stone. Clinton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.
Clinton was born in an outdoor toilet in Kannapolis, North Carolina, grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, and currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida. During his teen years Clinton formed a doo wop group inspired by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers called The Parliaments while straightening hair at a barber salon in Plainfield. For a period in the 1960s Clinton was a staff songwriter for Motown. Despite initial commercial failure (and one major hit single, "(I Wanna) Testify" in 1967), The Parliaments eventually found success under the names Parliament and Funkadelic in the seventies (see also P-Funk). These two bands combined the elements of musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, Cream and James Brown while exploring different sounds, technology, and lyricism. Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic dominated diverse music during the 1970s with over 40 R&B hit singles (including three number ones) and three platinum albums. Clinton's efforts as a solo artist began in 1982. He is also a notable music producer working on almost all of the albums he performs on, as well as producing albums for Bootsy Collins and Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others. In February 2013, Clinton filed for divorce from his wife of 22 years, Stephanie Lynn Clinton.
Beginning in the early 1980s, Clinton recorded several nominal solo albums, although all of these records featured contributions from P-Funk's core musicians. The primary reason for recording under his own name was legal difficulties, due to the complex copyright and trademark issues surrounding the name "Parliament" (primarily) and Polygram's purchase of that group's former label Casablanca Records.
In 1982, Clinton signed to Capitol Records under two names: his own (as a solo artist) and as the P-Funk All-Stars, releasing Computer Games under his own name that same year. The single "Loopzilla" hit the Top 20 on the R&B charts, followed by "Atomic Dog", which reached #1 R&B and #101 on the pop chart. In the next four years, Clinton released three more studio albums (You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish, Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends and R&B Skeletons in the Closet) as well as a live album, Mothership Connection (Live from the Summit, Houston, Texas) and charting three singles in the R&B Top 30, "Nubian Nut", "Last Dance", and "Do Fries Go with That Shake?". This period of Clinton's career was marred by multiple legal problems (resulting in financial difficulties) due to complex royalty and copyright issues, notably with Bridgeport Music.
In 1985, he was recruited by the Red Hot Chili Peppers to produce their album Freaky Styley, because the band members were huge fans of George Clinton and funk in general. Clinton, in fact, wrote the vocals and lyrics to the title track which was originally intended by the band to be left as an instrumental piece. The album was not a commercial success at the time, but has since sold 500,000 copies after the Red Hot Chili Peppers became popular years later.
Though Clinton's popularity had waned by the mid-1980s, he experienced something of a resurgence in the early 1990s, as many rappers cited him as an influence and began sampling his songs. Alongside James Brown, George Clinton is considered to be one of the most sampled musicians ever. In 1989, Clinton released The Cinderella Theory on Paisley Park, Prince's record label. This was followed by Hey Man, Smell My Finger in 1993. Clinton then signed with Sony 550 and released T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership) in 1996, having reunited with several old members of Parliament and Funkadelic.
1990s to 2000s
1994 saw Clinton contribute to several tracks on Primal Scream's studio album Give Out But Don't Give Up. In 1995 Clinton sang "Mind Games" on the John Lennon tribute Working Class Hero. In the 1990s, Clinton appeared in films such as Graffiti Bridge (1990), House Party (1990), PCU (1994), Good Burger (1997) and The Breaks (1999). In 1997 he appeared as himself in the Cartoon Network show Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Clinton also appeared as the voice of The Funktipus, the DJ of the Funk radio station Bounce FM in the 2004 video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in which his song "Loopzilla" also appeared. Rapper Dr. Dre sampled most of his beats to create his G-Funk music era. In 1999, Clinton collaborated with Lil' Kim, Fred Durst, and Mix Master Mike for Methods of Mayhem's single Get Naked.
Displaying his influence on rap and hip hop, Clinton also worked with Tupac Shakur on the song "Can't C Me" from the album All Eyez on Me; Ice Cube on the song and video for "Bop Gun (One Nation)" on the Lethal Injection album (which sampled Funkadelic's earlier hit "One Nation Under A Groove"); Outkast on the song "Synthesizer" from the album Aquemini; Redman on the song "J.U.M.P." from the album Malpractice; Souls of Mischief on "Mama Knows Best" from the album Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution; Killah Priest on "Come With me" from the album Priesthood, and the Wu Tang Clan on "Wolves" from the album 8 Diagrams.
Clinton founded a record label called The C Kunspyruhzy in 2003. He had a cameo appearance in the season-two premiere of the CBS television sitcom How I Met Your Mother, on September 18, 2006.
"You're Thinking Right", the theme song for The Tracey Ullman Show, was written by Clinton. He appeared on the intro to Snoop Dogg's Tha Blue Carpet Treatment album, released in 2007. Clinton was also a judge for the 5th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.
On September 16, 2008, Clinton released a solo album, George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love on Shanachie Records. Largely a covers album, Gangsters features guest appearances from Sly Stone, El DeBarge, Red Hot Chili Peppers, RZA, Carlos Santana, gospel singer Kim Burrell and more.
On September 10, 2009, George Clinton was awarded the Urban Icon Award from Broadcast Music Incorporated. The ceremony featured former P-Funk associate Bootsy Collins, as well contemporary performers such as Big Boi from Outkast and Cee-Lo Green from Goodie Mob.
Also in 2009, Clinton was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.
On February 1, 2010, Clinton's son, George Clinton, Jr., was found dead in his Florida home. According to police, he had been dead for several days and died of natural causes.
On May 20, 2010, George Clinton received a proclamation from Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs of Plainfield, New Jersey, the city in which he was raised, at a fundraiser for the Barack Obama Green Charter High School, which is focused creating leaders in sustainability for the 21st Century.
Family Series albums
1981: "Work That Sucker To Death" (Xavier featuring George Clinton and Bootsy Collins; Point of Pleasure)
1983: "I Almost Believed You" (from the Michael Bolton album Michael Bolton)
1985: "American Ghost Dance" sang backing vocals with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their album Freaky Styley
1985: "May The Cube Be With You" collaborated with Thomas Dolby and appeared in the music video for the song.
1985: "Sun City" (Artists United Against Apartheid; Sun City)
1986: "Magilla Gorilla" (from the Kurtis Blow album Kingdom Blow)
1990: "We Can Funk" (from the Prince album Graffiti Bridge)
1991: "Rock The Planet", "Dysfunction", "Air Head", "Freedom of Speech" (from the Muruga UFM album Rock The Planet)
1991: "Sons of the P" (from the Digital Underground album Sons of the P)
1991: "Words & Music from da Lowlands" (from the Gotcha! album Words and Music from the lowlands)
1993: "G-Funk Intro" (from the Snoop Doggy Dogg album Doggystyle)
1993: "Tight" (from the MC Breed album The New Breed (album))
1994: "PCU" (George Clinton)
1993: "Bop Gun (One Nation)" (from the Ice Cube album Lethal Injection)
1994: "P-Funk" (NBA Jam; Hidden Character)
1994: "Funky Jam" / "Give Out But Don't Give Up" / "Free" (Primal Scream; Give Out But Don't Give Up)
1995: "Blac Mermaid" (from the Society of Soul album Brainchild)
1997: Good Burger (Mental Patient/Dancer)
1998: "Synthesizer" (from the Outkast album Aquemini)
1996: "Can't C Me" (from the 2Pac album All Eyez on Me)
1999: "Get Naked" (from the Methods of Mayhem album Methods of Mayhem)
2001: "Come With Me", "The One" (from the Killah Priest album Priesthood)
2001: "Speed Dreaming" (from the Warren G album The Return Of The Regulator)
2001: "J.U.M.P." (from the Redman album Malpractice)
2002: "The Movie" (from the Too Short album What's My Favorite Word?)
2005: "Lotus Flower" (from the Blackalicious album The Craft)
2006: "Uncle Speaks (Album Naration)" (from the Joi album Tennessee Slim Is the Bomb)
2006: "Intrology" (from the Snoop Dogg album Tha Blue Carpet Treatment)
2006: "The Doctor and the Kidd" (from the People Under The Stairs album Stepfather)
2007: "Wolves", "Tar Pit" (from the Wu-Tang Clan album 8 Diagrams)
2007: "When the World is at Peace" (Masters of Funk & Blues feat. George Clinton & Bobby Taylor; A Soulful Tale of Two Cities)
2007: "Love Won't Let Me Wait" (Masters of Funk, Soul & Blues featuring George Clinton; A Soulful Tale of Two Cities)
2007: "Night Out" (from the Lifesavas album Gutterfly)
2008: "Up Again" (from the Bobby Digital album Digi Snacks)
2008: "Hitler's Brain" (from the Die Warzau album Vinyl88: Not the best of Die Warzau)
2009: "There's A Party" (from the N.A.S.A album The Spirit of Apollo)
2010: "Fo Yo Sorrows" (from the Big Boi album Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty)
2010: "Red Wine (Skit)" (From the Stevie Stone album New Kid Comin)
2010: "Red Wine" (From the Stevie Stone album New Kid Comin)
2011: "D-Funk (Funk With Us)" (from The Headhunters album Platinum)
2012: Thanksgiving Day halftime show at Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan. Halftime Concert featuring Kid Rock.
2013: "Tonight We Ride" (from the Killah Priest album The Psychic World of Walter Reed)
George Clinton's official web site
Cox-Cordova, Jill (September 15, 2011). "Red Chair Interview: George Clinton". CNN.com.
George Clinton -VH1
Houston Press interview
George Clinton at the Internet Movie Database
George Clinton at AllMusic
College Crier George Clinton Interview
Trouser Press George Clinton Discography
George Clinton Audio Interview, Feb. 08
Promotional MP3 "Ain't That Peculiar" from George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love
George Clinton's Psychedelic Paintings in SPIN's February '09 Issue
George Clinton at WhoSampled