To think of funk music without George Clinton is like thinking about the breeze without air. Or water without wetness. That's how integral the man is and was to the sound. The 72-year-old Clinton is, at the core, a grand communicator and skilled facilitator—able to take 20 people in a studio noodling and jamming and pull the strings that would bring it all together. In the late 1960s, Clinton and his musical conglomerations of Parliament and Funkadelic ushered in the funk movement. Clinton aptly orchestrated and groomed the likes of Bootsy Collins, Eddie Hazel, Bernie Worrell, and Maceo Parker, stirring them all into a sonic combination that was impossible not to move to.
Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic dominated music in the 1970s with more than 40 R&B hits (which included three number ones and three platinum albums). Live, the show became an otherworldly circus. There was the Aqua Boogie Bird, the Brides of Funkenstein, the Booty Snatchers, 20-foot shades, a pyramid, a spaceship, all consumed in gyration. Despite the spectacle, what never got buried was the musicianship. Clinton spoke.
Parliament-Funkadelic were so distinctive that you all needed your own language. There was the music, the show, and your own vocabulary. Where did that come from?
We'd be in the studio or on the road with each other, sort of shut off from the outside world—I guess it just came out of that. It wasn't like we tried to make up all these different words or ways of saying things, they just happened. On sleeve notes to the fans, one of the notes said: "Improve Your Funkmenship. The Nastified Secret Order of the United Maggots of Funkadelia is being magnetized for your convenience. Send all inquiries to Maggotropolis of Funkadelia, Los Angeles, CA. Warning: Obvious squares and turkeys attempting entry into the REALM will be reduced immediately to basic atoms of radioactive turds." Now, what that means exactly I can't say [laughs]. But you listen to the music and see the show, and you understand what it means.