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George Clinton Biography

Home > Music > C > Clinton, George > Biography

Born: 1941/07/22
Birth Place: Plainfield, New Jersey, United States
Years Active: 1955–present
Genres: Funk, Soul, Rock, R&B

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.

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, The Parliaments eventually found success under the names Parliament and Funkadelic in the 1970s.

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 #1 hits) and three platinum albums.

Clinton's efforts as a solo artist began in the early 1980s, recording 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 due to legal difficulties, stemming from the complex copyright and trademark issues surrounding the name “Parliament” 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 Billboard R&B chart, followed by “Atomic Dog,” which reached #1 on the R&B 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 within 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 and financial difficulties due to the complex royalty and copyright issues.

In 1985, he was recruited by the Red Hot Chili Peppers to produce their album “Freaky Styley.” 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 well 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 particular, Rapper Dr. Dre sampled Clinton on many of his beats that created his G-Funk music era. 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.

In the 1990s, Clinton appeared in films such as 1990’s “Graffiti Bridge” and “House Party,” 1994’s “PCU,” 1997’s “Good Burger” and 1999’s “The Breaks.” In 1997 he appeared as himself in the Cartoon Network show “Space Ghost Coast to Coast.”

Displaying his influence on rap and hip hop, Clinton worked with Ice Cube on the song and video for “Bop Gun (One Nation)” on the 1993 album “Lethal Injection” (which sampled Funkadelic's earlier hit “One Nation Under A Groove”), Tupac Shakur on the song “Can't C Me” from the 1996 album “All Eyez on Me,” Outkast on the song “Synthesizer” from the 1998 album “Aquemini,” and Redman on the song “J.U.M.P.” from the 2001 album “Malpractice,” among several other appearances.

Clinton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 with 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. Clinton founded a record label called The C Kunspyruhzy in 2005. In 2008, Clinton released a solo album, “George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love” on Shanachie Records. Largely a covers album, “Gangsters” featured guest appearances from Sly Stone, El DeBarge, Red Hot Chili Peppers, RZA, Carlos Santana, gospel singer Kim Burrell and others.