Say It's Your Birthday: George Clinton

King of the Funk cosmos. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

George Clinton, who is variously referred to as the

progenitor of funk, rap, hip-hop, and everything in between, was born today in

1940, and it has been rumored that his first words, uttered to the doctor who

delivered him, were, "What do you think you're doing slapping my behind, Maggot

Face?" Since 1955, Clinton has been the commander of the Mothership, and his

crew has included some of the most talented R&B and funk musicians in history.

Clinton's musical career began when he was a teenager in New Jersey and started

a band he called The Parliaments. He kept that group active through decades of

little or no success; Clinton and The Parliaments did not get their first major

hit until 1967, with the vamp-heavy "(I Wanna) Testify," which, although it

made use of Clinton's unique orchestrations, had little of the hyper-weirdness

of his later work. In the late '60s, Clinton consciously absorbed Detroit rock,

notably The Stooges, in stark-contrast to many other black R&B musicians, who

adamantly promoted what they considered more purely black music. Around this

same time Clinton was involved in a legal battle concerning the use of the name

The Parliaments, and therefore formed Funkadelic (consisting of many of the

same musicians). To this day, Clinton and his bands (known as the P-Funk

All-Stars, Parliament, and Funkadelic) continue to bring their other-worldly

brand of funk to fans around the world. Originally, Parliament and Funkadelic

did represent two distinct...

[Use handy "Continued" icon for rest of

story.]