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Sunday October 26th 2014

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P-Funk is Coming, P-Funk is Coming

By Kate Peterson

George Clinton, known as Mr. Funkenstein, and well known as the architect of funk, is coming to Vinyl Music Hall. He is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who has long-reaching influence on old as well as new music. Clinton and his grooves have become one of the most sampled artists. He is the creator and leader of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic.

Clinton got his start in—hard to believe—a clean-cut doo-wop group called the Parliments. As he says, “Doo-wop and the Motown sound, along with gospel, all laid the ground work for what was to come.” When asked what influenced him to become a musician in the first place, he says, “Frankie Lymon. I saw all the girls he was getting and wanted in.” Lymon was with the 50s rock and roll group The Teenagers, whose most well-known song was “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”.

Later, the Parliments became Parliament and Funkadelic. The bands have had numerous members over time. Along with the changes, they amassed 40 rhythm and blues hits and three platinum albums.

Did he choose funk, or did it choose him? Clinton says, “We were a little late with the clean-cut look. So we got rid of the suits and started wearing table cloths instead. They called us the Temptations on acid. Maybe we both chose and were chosen.”

Clinton has had a very successful solo career as well. He says, “Funk is timeless,” that is why he was so successful. In 1982, Clinton’s album “Computer Games” generated the number one song “Atomic Dog”. The hook alone has been sampled by artists such as Ice Cube, Biz Markie, Digital Underground, Geto Boys, MC Hammer, NAS, Public Enemy and more.

About being among one of the most sampled artists, Clinton says, “Funk is the DNA of hip hop. Those records got us back on the radio. That relationship is very important to us. It’s been others like Bridgeport Music and BMI that have given sampling a bad name. Check out my blog, funkprobosci.com for all the latest edutainment.”

With extensive experience in the music business, and being able to create memorable works, Clinton has been involved in producing other bands’ albums, such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. When asked how that work influences his own, Clinton says, “It’s cool. I like to hear how others work their thang.”

Who and what are his current musical influences? “Whatever I hear next.”

Clinton has been involved in many battles both on and off the stage. One of the things he cares passionately about is his work on HR848, Performance Rights Act. Introduced in 2009, it seeks to provide parity in radio performance rights under title 17, United States Code. Clinton says, “We’re working with Rep. John Conyers on this. Helping get the word out about how it’ll help artists get compensated fairly and protect their rights.” If it gets passed, “For one thing it’ll help put some money in their pocket from terrestrial radio plays. Something that should have been done a long time ago.”

For many years, Clinton and the bands used a stage prop that would come out of the ceiling, open up and the band members would rise out of it onto the stage. It was a spaceship—otherwise known as the Mothership. Recently, a replica of this Mothership was donated to the Smithsonian, National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. Clinton says, “I didn’t like seeing it go, but we’re real excited about the future exhibit. Got a lot of surprises planned for ya’.”

Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic have played Pensacola before, specifically Springfest in downtown Pensacola. He says about Pensacola, “I dig it. Wish I had more time to go fishin’.”

GEORGE CLINTON AND PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC
WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST: $35
DETAILS: vinylmusichall.com