George Clinton was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey. In 1955, Clinton formed a doo wop group called the Parliaments, rehearsing in the back room of a Plainfield barbershop where he straightened hair. The Parliaments had one rhythm & blues hit in 1967, but in 1968 morphed into the far more experimental Parliament, Funkadelic and (in the 1980s) the P-Funk All Stars, selling millions of acid-funk albums. Due to legal issues with the band names, Clinton began recording and touring under his own name in 1982. He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 1982 and, with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Clinton's most recent album is 2008's George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love. Clinton currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida.
At B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill tonight, Clinton was more of a conductor than a performer for three hours of jams by a collective of nearly 20 musicians and singers. When he sang, his voice was grating. Nevertheless, he orchestrated a danceable and mesmerizing groove, allowing singers and musicians to improvise on his tunes on lengthy stretches. He had no baton, but he led the funkestra, much like Clinton's forbearer Frank Zappa sometimes led later versions of his band, the Mothers of Invention. Highlights included ""Flashlight", "One Nation under a Groove" and "Atomic Dog," songs that have had a second life in the samples used by contemporary rappers. Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars were not locked in a time warp, however. The set often incorporated 21st century hard beats, synthesizer riffs and hip hop raps. Towards the end of the set, Clinton brought out an 11-year-old boy who played dazzling blues guitar licks. At 73 years of age, Clinton still forges the path for future funksters.
Visit George Clinton at www.georgeclinton.com.