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date: 01 March 2021

Clinton, George locked

1940American musician, pioneer of funk style

Extract

George Clinton was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina. He grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, where he worked in a barbershop straightening hair and formed a musical group, the Parliaments. After moving to Detroit, Michigan, Clinton and the Parliaments had a minor hit, “(I Just Wanna) Testify,” in 1967.

Following a lawsuit over the band's name, Clinton formed not one but two new groups—the legendary Parliament and Funkadelic (known collectively as P-Funk)—with many overlapping players. Parliament was more commercial; Funkadelic was outlandish, with musicians wearing diapers, Clinton emerging from a coffin, and plenty of references to sex and drugs. The bands merged in the 1970s, and their concerts, featuring spectacles such as giant spaceships landing onstage, became a major attraction.

For all his eccentricity, Clinton was an influential spokesman for African Americans; his song “Chocolate City” (1975 expresses in terms both witty and poignant the ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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