Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tim Riley on The Goduncle of Funk

Affectionately known as the "Goduncle" of funk, just a rung beneath James Brown's godfather, George Clinton's career as a black rock innovator spans the past fifty years with three number 1 singles and three platinum albums.

Clinton's work mirrors the story of black pop from doo-wop through Motown pop and soul to dance music, and gained iconoclastic stature through extended guitar solos, cartoonish concept albums, and exuberant stage shows with outlandish costumes.

Most of his work revolves around two distinct groups, Parliament and Funkadelic, who appeared as the P-Funk All-Stars after 1981. Well-known albums include "Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow," and "The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein."

Key role models for Clinton include Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix, but he presided over his many casts of musicians as a mentor and svengali, spawning solo careers for bassist Bootsy Collins and keyboardist Bernie Worrell. His work can be palpably felt in the music of Prince, and rappers have sampled his recordings almost as much as James Brown's. He was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. His new memoir, Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You? recounts his zig-zag career with New Yorker writer Ben Greenman.

See George Clinton in conversation with Tim Riley on October 25. More info and ticket details here.

Tim Riley is a professor at Emerson College and author of several books, including Lennon: Man, Myth, Music.

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