Music News

George Clinton, Happy Birthday! Here's to You and Nine Other Showstoppers With a Flair for Funk and Fashion

George Clinton, born July 22, 1941, is many things: a singer, songwriter, producer and musical visionary. The one thing he's not is predictable.

At 71, he's as outrageous as ever, a vision of pure theatrical eccentricity, garbed in outlandish costumes, multicolored dreadlocks, oversized sunglasses, and the occasional elaborate headdress. With his twin bands Parliament and Funkadelic, Clinton brings color and personality to funk and R&B. A 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, he can also claim a prodigious solo career allowing him to work alongside artists of every musical stripe and persuasion.

Initially infatuated by doo-wop, the singing group Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers in particular, Clinton began his professional career as a songwriter for Motown. Once he formed Parliament, his success was solidified with "(I Wanna) Testify." Their dynamic franchise blossomed and grew, becoming known also as Funkadelic and P Funk, depending on the context of their performances. The groups took their music to new and yet-unimagined extremes, adding elaborate performance values, an unrelenting groove, and extravagant arrangements that keep listeners scratching their heads, rubbing their eyes, and cleaning out their ears in amazement.

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Lee Zimmerman