Recording both as Parliament and Funkadelic, George Clinton revolutionized R&B during the ’70s, twisting soul music into funk by adding influences from several late-’60s acid heroes: Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and Sly Stone. The Parliament/Funkadelic machine ruled black music during the ’70s, capturing over 40 R&B hit singles (including three number ones) and recording three platinum albums.
Inspired by Motown`s assembly line of sound, George Clinton gradually put together a collective of over 50 musicians and recorded the ensemble during the ’70s both as Parliament and Funkadelic. While Funkadelic pursued band-format psychedelic rock, Parliament engaged in a funk free-for-all, blending influences from the godfathers (James Brown and Sly Stone) with freaky costumes and themes inspired by ’60s acid culture and science fiction. From its 1970 inception until Clinton’s dissolving ofParliament in 1980, Clinton hit the R&B Top Ten several times but truly excelled in two other areas: large-selling, effective album statements and the most dazzling, extravagant live show in the business. In an era when Philly soul continued the slick sounds of establishment-approved R&B, Parliament / Funkadelic scared off more white listeners than it courted. (Ironically, today Clinton’s audiences are a cross-cultural mix of music lovers from 8 to 80.)
In reviewing Clinton’s illustrious career and success as a producer / writer/ performer, perhaps his greatest achievement stemmed from his relentless dedication to funk as a musical form. Funk as a musical style had been around for what seems like forever, deeply rooted in the music traditions of New Orleans and the Blues of the Deep South. Following the lead – and commercial success – of James Brown and Sly Stone, Clinton took Funk to new heights, blending elements of Jazz, Rock, Pop, Classical and even Gospel into his productions, eventually developing a unique and easily identifiable style affectionately called “Pfunk.” Clinton’s inspiration, dedication and determination resulted in the elevation of “funk” music to complete recognition and acceptance as a true genre in and of itself.
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