George Clinton & The Cosmic Odyssey Of The P-Funk Empire
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A fan since the early 1970s, Kris Needs has collected every Clinton-related record and has written a number of exhaustive histories of the P-Fun collective for a variety of magazines. He has interviewed Clinton several times, getting to know him during the 1990s when he collaborated with Primal Scream, leading to an all-nighter at the Brixton Academy which saw Kris DJ for his hero.
1983. With its graphic lyrics and glistening electro backdrop (shamelessly hijacked from a downtown band called Liquid Liquid) the song was an anthem for the eighties and consummate example of the digital revolution spreading through hip-hop, black pop and machine-beleaguered funk. Michael Jackson was on his way to becoming the highest-selling artist in the world with Thriller but Prince from Minneapolis had evolved from late seventies sleaze-rock outings such as ‘Soft And Wet’ and 1980’s horny
two in the Billboard R&B chart. Gordy’s first signing was the Matadors, who became the Miracles, whose fourth single, 1959’s ‘Bad Girl’, was first released on the new Motown imprint on April 14, 1960 (locally – nationally it was released on Chess). ‘Shop Around’ also reached number two on Billboard‘s Hot 100, becoming the label’s first million seller. Smokey became Vice President of Motown, while Gordy family members took key positions in the company, whose roster expanded to encompass Mary
However, Newark was in decline by the time George and his family arrived, and was among America’s most impoverished cities. George attended the recently opened Clinton Place Junior High School (off the main Clinton Avenue thoroughfare) in downtown Newark. By all accounts it was a brand new facility with several cool teachers. The school song reflected the optimism of its educational ideals; ‘Nestled in Newark on a busy street, stands a school that can’t be beat, Clinton Place, oh Clinton Place,
Boston but it’s half and half. Here in Michigan, we’re gaining a large, white crowd, but Detroit is still predominantly black. We get even more exposure between blacks and whites. But we like it across the board. We hate to be restricted.” George posits his radio-play theory that Funkadelic couldn’t be classified, so were deemed too weird. “It’s not strictly rock and roll, it’s not strictly rhythm and blues. It’s everything. Like radio stations don’t know; they try to make us R&B because we’re
Although the idealism of the previous decade had been trussed and muted by law, the transitional sixties had paved the way for integration and set wheels in motion which would change US politics forever. Meanwhile, Black Power’s attitude and imagery morphed into a new style, in many ways similar to the one being pursued by George. Black was now beautiful, unity between “brothers” and “sisters” mushroomed on the streets, while fashion statements such as Afros, flamboyant threads and hefty bling