George Clinton (born July 22, 1941) is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and record producer. His band Parliament-Funkadelic (which recorded under the names Parliament and Funkadelic) developed a form of funk music during the 1970s and early 1980s that he termed P-Funk. He launched a solo career in 1981. He is regarded, along with James Brown and Sly Stone, as one of the foremost innovators of funk music. 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.
He graduated from The Hill School in 1959.
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.
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 R&B charts, followed by "Atomic Dog", which reached #1 R&B and #101 on the pop 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 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.
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.
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. "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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On September 10, 2009, George Clinton was awarded the Urban Icon Award from Broadcast Music Incorporated. 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.
In May 2012, Clinton was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music. During the commencement concert, Clinton joined the college's P-Funk Ensemble to perform hits like “Testify,” “Give Up the Funk,” and “One Nation Under a Groove." He was accompanied by longtime horn players Bennie Cowan and Greg Thomas.
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. Clinton also appears with Kendrick Lamar on the song "Wesley's Theory" from the album To Pimp a Butterfly.
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.
Clinton married Stephanie Lynn Clinton in 1990. In February 2013, after 22 years of marriage, he filed for divorce.
|Year||Album information||Peak chart positions|
|1983||You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish
|1985||Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends
|1986||R&B Skeletons in the Closet
|1989||The Cinderella Theory
|1993||Hey Man, Smell My Finger
|2005||How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent?
|2008||George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
|1976||The Mothership Connection – Live from Houston
|1990||Live at the Beverly Theater
|1995||Mothership Connection Newberg Session
|2004||500,000 Kilowatts of P-Funk Power (Live)
|2006||Take It To The Stage (Live)
|2015||P-Funk Live at Metropolis
|1992||Go Fer Yer Funk||Nocturne|
|1993||P Is the Funk||Nocturne|
|Testing Positive 4 the Funk||AEM|
|A Fifth of Funk||AEM|
|1995||The Best (compilation)||P-Vine|
|1988||Atomic Clinton! (EP)
|1990||Atomic Dog (EP)
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Album|
|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|
|1996||"If Anybody Gets Funked Up (It's Gonna Be You)" (as George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars)||13||—||97||T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M.|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|