George Clinton is one of the foremost innovators of funk music, and was the mastermind behind the bands Parliament and Funkadelic. Clinton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.
Clinton started his career with the Parliaments, a barbershop doo-wop ensemble, which scored a major hit with "I Wanna Testify" in 1967. Clinton then began experimenting with harmonies, melody, and rhythm, and taking cues from the psychedelic movement, forever setting himself apart from the Motown era.
By the early 1970s, the group's tight songs evolved into sprawling jams around funky rhythms. They dropped the "s" from the band name and Parliament was born. Around the same time, Clinton spawned Funkadelic, a rock group which fused psychedelic guitar distortion, bizarre sound effects, and cosmological rants with danceable beats and booming bass lines. Funkadelic recorded a number of influential concept albums, including Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow, Maggot Brain, and America Eats Its Young.
Parliament and Funkadelic captured 40 hit R&B singles, including No. 1 hits "Flashlight," "One Nation Under a Groove," "Aqua Boogie," and "(Not Just) Knee Deep." Clinton's collaborators included keyboardist Bernie Worrell, guitarist Eddie Hazel, bassist Bootsy Collins, saxophonist Maceo Parker, trombonist Fred Wesley. On stage, spectacle ruled the day, with an enormous mothership, outrageous costumes, and marathon performances.
In the 1980s, Clinton emerged as a successful solo artist. He released Computer Games with the No. 1 hit single "Atomic Dog," produced the Red Hot Chili Peppers' pioneering Freaky Styley, and signed with Prince's Paisley Park label. He also began to experiment with the urban hip-hop music scene, as a generation of rappers reared on P-Funk began to name-check him.
Clinton has become recognized as the godfather of modern urban music. Beats, loops, and samples of P-Funk have appeared on albums by OutKast, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, De La Soul, Fishbone, and many others. As Clinton has said, "funk is the DNA of hip-hop and rap." In 1996, Clinton released the solo album The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership, which reunited him with Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins.
In 1997, Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Guitar Center's Hollywood Rock Walk, and earned a Lifetime Achievement Award at the NAACP Image Awards. In 2002, Spin voted Parliament-Funkadelic No. 6 of the 50 Greatest Bands of All Time.
Over the past decade, Clinton has continued to play sold-out shows across the globe, while a countless number of his songs have been licensed for film and television. Currently, he is compiling new and old songs for an exclusive online-only release, fighting for artist rights through the P-Funk Initiative, and blogging about these issues on his website, FunkProbosci.com. Clinton also continues to support the youth through the Mother's Hip Education Foundation, and through donations to the Barack Obama Green Charter High School in Plainfield, New Jersey.
In October of 2011 at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York, an all star line up of entertainers including Bootsy Collins, Paul Schaffer, Questlove, Fab Five Freddy, and countless others came out to pay tribute to Dr. Clinton for 50 years of music making. The event called "Absolute Funk" also benefitted New York City hospitals.
At the start of the 2012, Berklee College of Music President Roger H. Brown present Dr. Clinton with an honorary doctor of music degree in recognition for the funk icon's enduring musical and cultural contributions. Dr. Clinton spent four days with the Berklee students culminating in a collaborative concert with the music pupils.
In the midst of non stop touring that took Dr. Clinton and P-Funk all the way to jazz festivals in the UK and France earlier this summer, the septuagenarian rock star took time out to break ground at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in late June. During the groundbreaking on the National Mall, P-Funk headlined a concert called "Bring Back the Funk" with Ivan Neville and Meshell Ndegeocello. The museum also acquired The Mothership, the iconic stage prop made famous in P-Funk's 1970s live shows. The ship, donated by Dr. Clinton, will help anchor a permanent music exhibition when the museum opens in Washington, D.C in 2015.
Other highlights of Dr. Clinton's 70th year include running a campaign to help digitize and preserve P-Funk's amazing catalog of master analog tapes. Dr. Clinton is an also an advocate for artists rights through fighting for his right to the copyrights of his work and raising awareness of copyright issues. His efforts were recently the subject of an in depth piece on National Public Radio.