George Clinton (musician)

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George Clinton
George Clinton performing in 2015.jpg
Clinton performing in Auckland, New Zealand, 2015
Background information
Born (1941-07-22) July 22, 1941 (age 74)
Kannapolis, North Carolina, U.S.
Origin Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Funk, soul, rock, psychedelic funk,[1] rhythm and blues, disco
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1955–present
Labels Westbound, Revilot, Capitol/EMI, Paisley Park/Warner Bros., 550 Music/Epic/SME, Shanachie
Associated acts Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy's Rubber Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers

George Clinton (born July 22, 1941) is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and music producer. He was the principal architect of P-Funk, 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. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, alongside 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.



Clinton was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina, grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, and currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida. 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.

1960s and 1970s[edit]

For a period in the 1960s Clinton was a staff songwriter for Motown. Despite initial commercial failure and one major hit single, "(I Wanna) Testify" in 1967), as well as arranging and producing scores of singles on many of the independent Detroit soul music labels, The Parliaments eventually found success under the names Parliament and Funkadelic in the 1970s (see also P-Funk). These two bands combined the elements of musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, Cream, and James Brown while exploring various sounds, technology, and lyricism. Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic dominated diverse music during the 1970s with over 40 R&B hit singles (including three number ones) and three platinum albums.


Clinton's efforts as a solo artist began in 1982. He is also a notable music producer who works on almost all the albums he performs on, and has produced albums for Bootsy Collins and Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others. Beginning in the early 1980s, Clinton recorded 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 legal difficulties, due to the complex copyright and trademark issues surrounding the name "Parliament" (primarily) and Polygram's purchase of that group's former label Casablanca Records.[citation needed]

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.[2] The single "Loopzilla" hit the Top 20 on the R&B charts, followed by "Atomic Dog", which reached #1 R&B and #101 on the pop chart.[2] 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 in 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 (resulting in financial difficulties) due to complex royalty and copyright issues, notably with Bridgeport Music, who Clinton claims fraudulently obtained the copyrights to many of his recordings.[3]

In 1985, he was recruited by the Red Hot Chili Peppers to produce their album Freaky Styley, because the band members were huge fans of George Clinton's and of funk in general. 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 500,000 copies after the Red Hot Chili Peppers became popular years later.[citation needed]

During the mid to late 1980's, many hip-hop and rap artists cited Clinton's earlier music as an influence. Along with James Brown, Clinton's songs with Parliament-Funkadelic were often sampled by rap producers.[4] "Sure, sample my stuff…" he remarked in 1996. "Ain't a better time to get paid than when you're my age. You know what to do with money. You don't buy as much pussy or drugs with it – you just buy some."[5]

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 former members of Parliament and Funkadelic.[citation needed]

1990s to 2000s[edit]

1994 saw Clinton contribute to several tracks on Primal Scream's studio album Give Out But Don't Give Up. In 1995, Clinton sang "Mind Games" on the John Lennon tribute Working Class Hero. In the 1990s, Clinton appeared in films such as Graffiti Bridge (1990), House Party (1990), PCU (1994), Good Burger (1997), and The Breaks (1999). In 1997, he appeared as himself in the Cartoon Network show Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Clinton also appeared as the voice of The Funktipus, the DJ of the Funk radio station Bounce FM in the 2004 video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in which his song "Loopzilla" also appeared.

Rapper Dr. Dre sampled most of Clinton's beats to create his G-Funk music era. In 1999, Clinton collaborated with Lil' Kim, Fred Durst, and Mix Master Mike for Methods of Mayhem's single "Get Naked".[citation needed]

Displaying his influence on rap and hip hop, Clinton also worked with Tupac Shakur on the song "Can't C Me" from the album All Eyez on Me; Ice Cube on the song and video for "Bop Gun (One Nation)" on the Lethal Injection album (which sampled Funkadelic's earlier hit "One Nation Under A Groove"); Outkast on the song "Synthesizer" from the album Aquemini; Redman on the song "J.U.M.P." from the album Malpractice; Souls of Mischief on "Mama Knows Best" from the album Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution; Killah Priest on "Come With me" from the album Priesthood; the Wu Tang Clan on "Wolves" from the album 8 Diagrams, and Kendrick Lamar on the song "Wesley's Theory" from the album To Pimp a Butterfly.

Clinton founded a record label called The C Kunspyruhzy in 2003. He had a cameo appearance in "Where Were We?", the season two premiere of the CBS television sitcom How I Met Your Mother, on September 18, 2006.

Clinton wrote "You're Thinking Right", the theme song for The Tracey Ullman Show. He appeared on the intro to Snoop Dogg's Tha Blue Carpet Treatment album, released in 2007. Clinton was also a judge for the 5th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[6]

On September 16, 2008, Clinton released a solo album, George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love on Shanachie Records. Largely a covers album, Gangsters features guest appearances from Sly Stone, El DeBarge, Red Hot Chili Peppers, RZA, Carlos Santana, gospel singer Kim Burrell and more.[7]

On September 10, 2009, George Clinton was awarded the Urban Icon Award from Broadcast Music Incorporated.[8] The ceremony featured former P-Funk associate Bootsy Collins, as well contemporary performers such as Big Boi from Outkast and Cee-Lo Green from Goodie Mob.

Also in 2009, Clinton was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.[9]

On June 27, 2015, Clinton joined Mark Ronson, Mary J. Blige and Grandmaster Flash on stage at the Glastonbury Festival to perform Ronson's hit Uptown Funk.[10]

Personal life[edit]

On February 1, 2010, Clinton's son, George Clinton, Jr., was found dead in his Florida home. According to police, he had been dead for several days and died of natural causes.[11]

Clinton married Stephanie Lynn Clinton in 1990. In February 2013, after 22 years of marriage, he filed for divorce.[12]


George Clinton performing in The Netherlands.
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic performing at Waterfront Park, in Louisville, Kentucky, July 4, 2008
George Clinton performing live in Texas.
George Clinton in Long Beach 2009
Clinton performing in Centerville, 2007

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album information Peak chart positions
1982 Computer Games 40 3
1982 You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish
  • Released:
  • Label: Capitol Records
  • Format:
102 18
1985 Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends
  • Released:
  • Label: Capitol Records
  • Format:
163 17
1986 R&B Skeletons in the Closet
  • Released:
  • Label: Capitol Records
  • Format:
81 17
1989 The Cinderella Theory 192 75
1993 Hey Man, Smell My Finger
  • Released:
  • Label: Paisley Park Records
  • Format:
145 31
Dope Dogs
  • Released:
  • Label: XYZ
  • Format:
1996 T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. 121
2005 How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent?
  • Released: September 6, 2005
  • Label: The C Kunspyruhzy
  • Format: CD
2008 George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love
  • Released: September 16, 2008
  • Label: Shanachie
  • Format: CD
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Live albums[edit]

Year Album information
1976 The Mothership Connection – Live from Houston
1990 Live at the Beverly Theater
1995 Mothership Connection Newberg Session
  • Released:
  • Label: P-Vine
  • Format:
2004 500,000 Kilowatts of P-Funk Power (Live)
  • Released:
  • Label: Fruit Tree
  • Format:
2006 Take It To The Stage (Live)
  • Released:
  • Label: Music Avenue
  • Format:

Family Series albums[edit]

Year Title Label
1992 Go Fer Yer Funk Nocturne
Plush Funk Nocturne
1993 P Is the Funk Nocturne
Testing Positive 4 the Funk AEM
A Fifth of Funk AEM
1995 The Best (compilation) AEM


Year Album information
1988 Atomic Clinton! (EP)
1990 Atomic Dog (EP)
  • Released:
  • Label: Capitol Records
  • Format:

Solo singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
US Dance UK
1982 "Loopzilla" 19 48 57 Computer Games
"Atomic Dog" 1 38 94
1983 "Nubian Nut" 15 You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish
1986 "Do Fries Go with That Shake?" 13 57 R&B Skeletons in the Closet
"R&B Skeletons (In the Closet)"
1989 "Why Should I Dog You Out?" The Cinderella Theory
1993 "Paint The White House Black" Hey Man, Smell My Finger
"Martial Law
1996 "If Anybody Gets Funked Up (It's Gonna Be You)" 13 T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M.
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.



  1. ^ Lauren Cochrane, "George Clinton: the best dressed man in music", The Guardian, June 23, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Bush, John (1940-07-22). "George Clinton - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  3. ^ Mike Masnick, "George Clinton Explains How Bridgeport Allegedly Faked Documents To Get His Music Rights", Techdirt, June 17, 2011.
  4. ^ GOLD, JONATHAN (1989-09-16). "Funky George Clinton and Crew Are Back". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  5. ^ Q, 1996, precise date unknown
  6. ^ "Past Judges". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  7. ^ Graff, Gary (2008-06-27). "George Clinton Goes 'Gangster' On New Album". 
  8. ^ "BMI Honors George Clinton, T-Pain, Lil Wayne and Many More at Urban Awards in New York". Broadcast Music Incorporated. September 10, 2009. Retrieved September 7, 2010. 
  9. ^ "2009 Inductees". North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Mark Ronson at Glastonbury 2015 review – saving the best for last". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "Two Deaths in the George Clinton Family: George Clinton Jr. & Mahlia Franklin". 2010-02-08. Retrieved 2012-09-25. 
  12. ^ "GEORGE CLINTON TO WIFE Go Funk Yourself ... I Filed for DIVORCE". TMZ. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]