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Clinton, George

hit funkadelic recorded parliament

Clinton, George, leader The Parliaments, an R&B vocal group during the 1950s and 1960s; b. Plainfied, Ohio, July 22, 1940. The Parliaments lost the use of their name in the late 1960s. They regrouped as the rock-oriented Funkadelic, incorporating the innovations of Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix. Funkadelic continued to record on a separate label once Clinton regained use of the Parliament name (now without the s). Augmented by bassist William “Bootsy” Collins and horn players Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley from James Brown’s JBs, Parliament recorded a series of bizarre, oddly conceptual albums of so-called funk music, perhaps the last vestige of R&B music not overwhelmed by the rise of mindless disco music. Appealing primarily to African-American teenagers—and promoting humanitarian ideals such as equality and self-determination through an off-the- wall synthesis of ghetto jargon, science fiction fantasies, parodied psychedelia, and spiritual values—Parliament finally broke through to mainstream success with 1976’s Mothership Connection album and tour.

George Clinton subsequently concentrated on the Funkadelic side of the group, achieving enormous success with 1978’s One Nation Under a Groove . He also recorded various members of the Parliament-Funkadelic “family” such as Walter “Junie” Morrison, the Horny Horns, Parlet, and the Brides of Funkenstein; he formed his own label, Uncle Jam, for recordings by the Sweat Band and the P-Funk All-Stars. Former member William “Bootsy” Collins launched his own career with Bootsy’s Rubber Band, as did Roger Troutman with his family band Zapp.

Recording sporadically on his own in the 1980s, George Clinton served as inspiration to the hip-hop movement, and saw many of his hit songs sampled by rap acts. He ultimately joined Prince’s Paisley Park label for The Cinderella Theory, hailed as his comeback, and enjoyed renewed popularity as a result of his appearances with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Grammy Awards in 1993 and his participation in the Lollapal-ooza tour of 1994.

In 1955 George Clinton formed the Detroit R&B vocal group the Parliaments with Raymond Davis, Calvin Simon, Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins, and Grady Thomas. They first recorded for ABC in 1956, and subsequently recorded for a number of different labels before signing with Motown in 1964. They eventually scored a major pop and smash R&B hit with “(I Wanna) Testify” on Revilot in 1967, but the company soon folded and Motown claimed the rights to the Parliament name. Nevertheless, they managed to record Osmium for Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Invictus label before losing the rights to the name.

George Clinton, assuming the persona of Dr. Funkenstein, augmented Parliament with guitarists Eddie Hazel and Lucius Ross, keyboardist Bernie Worrell, drummer Ramon Fullwood, and vocalist Ray Davis, and the group took the name of Funkadelic. Signed to the Detroit-based Westbound label in 1969, Funkadelic recorded a series of albums that attempted to bridge the gap between 1960s rock and contemporary R&B styles. Through 1976 Funkadelic scored a series of minor-to- moderate R&B hits, highlighted by “I’ll Bet You’”“I Wanna Know if It’s Good to You?’” and “On the Verge of Getting It On,” while recording modest-selling albums such as Maggot Brain, America Eats Its Young, Cosmic Slop, and Tales ofKidd Funkadelic for Westbound.

With Clinton regaining the use of the Parliament name by 1974, the group signed with Casablanca Records, recording bizarre yet entertaining albums backed by Funkadelic that included the near-smash R&B hit “Up for the Down Stroke.” The astounding success of the classic “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk)” single (a major pop and smash R&B hit) and best-selling Mothership Connection album finally brought the group mainstream success in 1976. By then the members of Parliament-Funkadelic included veteran guitarists Bernie Worrell, Eddie Hazel, and Ray Davis, horn players Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley, and bassist William “Bootsy” Collins, all former members of James Brown’s band, plus former Ohio Players keyboardist Walter Morrison. A weird conceptual album blending brilliant if erratic music and Clinton’s funk monologues regarding science fiction and psychedelic and spiritual fantasies, Mothership Connection was supported by a sell-out tour that incorporated odd costumes and massive stage props, including a spaceship dubbed the Mothership.

The success of Mothership Connection paved the way for subsequent best-selling albums by Parliament, including Funkentelechy vs. The Placebo Syndrome, which yielded a major pop and top R&B hit with “Flash Light.” Subsequent R&B hits for Parliament through 1980 included the top hit “Aqua Boogie” and the near-smashes “Theme from the Black Hole” and “Agony of DeFeet.” By 1977 Funkadelic had switched to Warner Bros. Records, where they scored a top R&B and major pop hit with the title song to the classic One Nation Under a Groove album. Toward the end of 1979 Funkadelic scored a top R&B hit with “(Not Just) Knee Deep—Part 1” from Uncle Jam Wants You .

The members of Parliament-Funkadelic began taking on solo projects in 1975. Junie Morrison recorded three albums for Westbound before switching to Columbia by 1980; he later recorded for Island. Bootsy’s Rubber Band, headed by Bootsy Collins, began recording for Warner Bros, in 1976. The group produced a smash R&B hit with “The Pinocchio Theory” in 1977, and a top R&B hit with “Bootzilla” in 1978. An offshoot of Bootsy’s Rubber Band, the Sweat Band (with Maceo Parker), recorded an album for Clinton’s newly formed Uncle Jam label in 1980, the year Collins began recording on his own for Warner Bros. In 1982 he had a major R&B hit with “Body Slam!” He eventually switched to Columbia Records for 1988’s What’s Bootsy Doin’? and formed the New Rubber Band and Zillatron in the 1990s.

In 1977 Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns (again with Maceo Parker) recorded an album for Atlantic, and Eddie Hazel recorded one for Warner Bros. Also in 1977, three of the original Parliaments, Clarence Haskins, Calvin Simon, and Grady Thomas, left Parliament-Funkadelic to eventually record an album for LAX records as Funkadelic. In 1978 the vocal trio Parlet, with Mahalia Franklin and Shirley Hayden, began recording for Casablanca, and the Brides of Funkenstein, with Lynn Mabry, Dawn Silva, Ran Banks, and Larry Demps, recorded the first of two albums for Atlantic, producing the smash R&B hit “Disco to Go.” Bernie Worrell recorded an album for Arista in 1979, and in 1980 Roger Troutman formed Zapp with his brothers Lester, Tony, and Larry. Through 1983 they achieved R&B smashes with “More Bounce to the Ounce—Part 1,” “Dance Floor (Part 1),” “Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing),” and “I Can Make You Dance (Part 1).” Roger began recording on his own in 1981, scoring a top R&B hit with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which featured his use of the voice-box device. In 1986 Zapp hit the R&B charts with “Computer Love,” and in 1987 Roger topped the R&B charts with “I Want to Be Your Man.”

In 1980 George Clinton withdrew from his high profile in the popular-music world. He recorded on his own for Capitol Records during the 1980s, scoring a top R&B hit with “Atomic Dog” from Computer Games in 1983. Around 1982 he formed the P-Funk All-Stars, whose album Urban Dancefloor Guerrillas came to be regarded as a funk masterpiece. He also produced albums by Jimmy Giles and the Tac-Heads, the Brides of Motown, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ second album. Bernie Worrell assisted in the recording of the Talking Heads’ celebrated 1980 Remain in Light album, and joined the group’s 1983 tour that produced the excellent concert film Stop Making Sense . By 1988 George Clinton had switched to Prince’s Paisley Park label for The Cinderella Theory, lauded as his comeback. In 1989 he toured with a new edition of his P-Funk All-Stars.

During the 1990s Bernie Worrell returned to recording after a stint with the Talking Heads, and Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker established themselves as jazz artists. Roger Troutman returned with 1991’s Bridging the Gap after a four-year absence, and George Clinton recorded Hey Man, Smell My Finger with veterans Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, and Maceo Parker, plus Prince and rappers Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. Clinton’s renewed career got a boost from his appearance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Grammy Awards in 1993 and his successful performances with the P-Funk All-Stars on the Lollapalooza 1994 tour.

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