George Clinton, Parliament Funkadelic, and George Clinton's hair are on tour. / Provided
Space is the place for Parliament-Funkadelic founder George Clinton. That’s why he built the Mothership.
“After [the 1975 album] ‘Chocolate City,’ which was about black person in the White House, the next one I could see was [a black person] in outer space,” Clinton says. “Back in those days, you were getting out of the peace and love generation and into the ’70s, and while that was still around you had to leave the planet to find it.”
The Mothership stage prop — central to the 1975 concept album “Mothership Connection” — is about to land in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture where it will be on display with P-Funk music and concert footage in the Musical Crossroads exhibit.
This Mothership is a replica of the original, but it was very active in the ’90s and it made its last appearance at Woodstock ’99.
“It’s going to be right in the lobby when you walk in, so it definitely lives up to the history of the music because the music has not only been good for us, but good for two generations of artists after that,” Clinton says. “All of the hip-hip and now electronic, the funk has been the DNA of that — the music that came from the Mothership.”
Case in point, the band’s “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” has been sampled more than 35 times by everyone from Method Man and Redman to Snoop Dogg, according to WhoSampled.com.
Clinton formed the group in his Plainfield, N.J., barbershop in the 1960s, It grew into an outward looking sublime melange of funk, R&B, rock, gospel, classical, doo-wop and jazz, set off by outlandish stage costumes, fantastical narratives and stage props like the Mothership.
Get funked up
It’s legacy time for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band. The current incarnation of Parliament-Funkadelic is now on tour, while next month a new album, “First You Gotta Shake the Gate,” and Clinton’s autobiography, “Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?: A Memoir,” will come out.
“Everybody’s trying to steal the ownership of all of that music going into the Smithsonian,” says Clinton, who has been involved in numerous copyright lawsuits over the past few years. “It shows you how big it really it.”