George Clinton
The Prime Minister of Funk, George Clinton, was the mastermind behind such powerful groups like Parliament and Funkadelic. With smash singles that still pack the party including “Atomic Dog”, “Flashlight”, and “Give Up the Funk”, we can see why George is one of the most sampled artist in music today. Check out this exclusive as WHO?MAG goes 1 on 1 with the funkster George Clinton.
by Rob Schwartz

WHO?MAG: What is funk?
GEORGE CLINTON: Funk is everything it needs to be. It can save your life. It’s a lot of things. Now what is funky music? Attitude and lifestyle. Like I said, funk is everything it needs to be. After you do the best you can in anything, say “funk it”. If you can’t do no more, you ain’t gonna blow your mind out over it. The music is the same thing. You give it all you got, but “funk it”, let it take care of itself. You can jam, groove, and just have a good time. “Free your mind and your ass will follow”. All kinds of music is funky, like jazz and gospel, but we believe in P-funk, that we live it like that. We do the best we can in anything. After that, we don’t give a funk.

WHO?MAG: Who is George Clinton?

WHO?MAG: The one I’m looking at right now.
GEORGE CLINTON: Probably either Atomic Dog or Dr. Funkenstein. Mega-Overlord or Mega-Minister. There are a lot of names that I go by, but I clone myself so that I can be whoever I want to be at any given time. Right now, he’s a lazy old funkster chilling in the studio.

WHO?MAG: How did you get into music in the first place?
GEORGE CLINTON: I say Frankie Lyman in ’56 with the song “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and when I saw that, he was getting all the girls. That’s what I wanted to be. I wanted to be one of those guys. Every corner back then had a group on it, whether New York or New Jersey, or around the east coast. I was about 14, so I started Parliament. So it was Frankie Lyman along with Doo-Wop groups at the Apollo.

WHO?MAG: What do you feel is Parliament’s biggest impact on music?
GEORGE CLINTON: A lot of people are funking now. Parliament allows people to escape from the realm they have to be in only one bag of music. It allowed people to be in any bag they felt like being in. How many styles do you want? Doo-wop, jazz, funk, rock and roll, psychedelic. Parliament has been through all of those and still going through it. You can reinvent yourself over and over again. Parliament brought cloning to the attention of a lot of people. We did an album called “The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein”. DNA. We were dealing with DNA before the OJ trial.

WHO?MAG: Tell me about the creative process for the following songs and what they mean to you. “I Just Wanna Testify”
GEORGE CLINTON: Oh wow! That’s a good one. That was the last chance we had at working in Detroit. We were trying to get on the Motown label. I was working out there for about two or three years. They were getting ready to close this company down called Golden World. The last sessions we did before I left and “I Just Wanna Testify” was the last song we did before they closed the label down. We made the jam. We jammed all night on it. Recorded it with myself, Ron Banks from the Dramatics, and Patten Lewis who was a background singer from Motown. We recorded it and I came back home to Jersey. I was home for about 3 to 4 weeks. Then some one told me they heard a record by me and Parliament on ABC. I was like, “Nah, we don’t have a record on ABC. ABC doesn’t play R&B.” But I was wrong. It was on there. They had put the record out and it broke over a weekend. So after 10 years of doing this, starting form ’56 til ’66, we had our first million album seller. I went back and that was the beginning of Parliament on the road.

WHO?MAG: “Atomic Dog”
GEORGE CLINTON: 30 years later since 76. Atomic dog. After a big run of “One Nation”, “Flashlight”, “Knee deep”, “Tear the Roof Off”, and all that stuff, we had stopped again and haven’t had a record for like a year and a half. Everyone thought it was over. Atomic Dog was the song that introduced us to the techno world of hip-hop and electronic music. It was or first effort to deal with that. It’s still hanging around. It’s the song that won’t go away.

WHO?MAG: “Flashlight”
GEORGE CLINTON: Flashlight was the R&B record that was the satellite on the Mothership that let people know that we were here seriously. Flashlight was unlike anything else I ever did where the bass was played on a synthesizer. Again , it’s that electronic, R&B, James Brown sound, but the instruments have never been used on that kind of records. It’s music form the Mothership.

WHO?MAG: What was the theory behind Parliament and the Funkadelics?
GEORGE CLINTON: The Parli-Funkadelic-ment thang! It was the P Funk. The uncut funk is our dedicated to combining the Doo-Wop that we have been through, Motown which we treasure, Sly Stone, The Beatles, Jimi Hendricks, and all into the future. It was a kind of music that had to have a “thang”, not a group. It had to be a “thang” that kept growing. So it started with Parliament, then Parliament Funkadelics, then Bootsy, then The Brides of Dr. Funkenstein, it kept growing. Everyone around us was getting recorded. And that was our way of reinventing Motown and taking it to the next stage, which was the Dogstar.

WHO?MAG: So what’s your opinion of being one of the most heavily sampled artist out today?
GEORGE CLINTON: My opinion? They ain’t sampling enough! You pull out a records called “Sample Some of Disk, Sample Some of D.A.T”. It keeps funk alive, but you get addicted to it. That’s why they call it “dope”. We called it dope when it first left the Mothership. It’s addictive.

WHO?MAG: So how do you feel about the new licensing opportunities for yourself?
GEORGE CLINTON: Just as long as I get paid for it, I’m happy. It keeps the stuff alive and in the meantime, we’re going to get paid because we’re not going to stop. We do it because we like it. If they sample it, it keeps us connected to where ever the music goes. As soon as I hear parents or musicians saying “I hate that music”, that’s where I am going to gravitate to. So if sampling is where it’s at, I am going to gravitate and make some sampling songs. Sample, copy, dup it & loop it, stupid!

WHO?MAG: What advice could you give someone who is trying to break into funk music?
GEORGE CLINTON: Get naked! Get naked and break the rules.

WHO?MAG: What’s next for George Clinton?
GEORGE CLINTON: We got some next sh-t. That’s all I can tell you. We’re working on a new album with Wu-Tang, Parliament, and a whole bunch of other artists are going to be boarding the Mothership by the end of the year. We have a reality show coming out which is going to be a part of that. I don’t know nothing. I just follow the funk