George Clinton was born on July 22, 1941 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
George Clinton grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, where he ran a barber salon; while there, inspired by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, he formed a doo wop group, The Parliaments (after the cigarette brand by that name). In 1964 Clinton formed a backing band and the group moved to Detroit to audition for Motown.
Clinton became a staff songwriter for Motown and wrote songs for The Jackson 5 and The Supremes; his biggest hit was “(I Wanna) Testify” in 1967 by the Parliaments.
The Parliaments recorded for the Revilot label, which folded but kept the name “Parliaments” when it went under. Clinton them formed a new band, Funkadelic, whose sound evolved into psychodelic rock, R&B and a raw funk music sound. Featuring distortion and feedback and eye-popping live performances, the terms “P-Funk” or “Funk” came to define Clinton’s sound.
The name Parliament was dormant for four years but Clinton revived it in 1974; during the 1970s and 1980s Clinton headed two bands, Parliament and Funkadelic which were, essentially, the same line-up of musicians recording for two different labels. In 1975 the classic album, Mothership Connection featured the hit single “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker”); the album went platinum. In 1978 he released the album Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome which featured the hit single “Flash Light.”
As his career progressed, Clinton and his groups released concept albums that often had space-age themes with political and sociological messages. Later, Clinton recorded as a solo “Funk” artist.
In 1985 Clinton produced the Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Freaky Styley and during the 1980s and 90s became one of the most sampled musicians by rappers. He appeared in a number of films, including Graffiti Bridge (1990), House Party (1990), PCU (1994), Good Burger (1997) and The Breaks (1999), was the voice of The Funktipus, the DJ of Funk radio station Bounce FM in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and wrote the theme song to “The Tracey Ullman Show,” “You’re Thinking Right.”
In 1997 George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.