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"The primary author of the P-Funk mythology aside from George Clinton was Pedro Bell, who illustrated the liner notes for many of P-Funk's releases. Bell's felt-tip illustrations included prolonged essays that expanded the mythos of Clinton's lyrics with a complementary syntax that "forged a new realm of black language" (source). Though Bell coined terms like "Rumpasaurus" and made extensive contributions to the P-Funk mythology, his work has been largely overlooked." --Sholem Stein

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Parliament-Funkadelic (abbreviated as P-Funk) is an American funk music collective of rotating musicians headed by George Clinton, primarily consisting of the individual bands Parliament and Funkadelic, both active since the 1960s. Their distinctive funk style drew on psychedelic culture, outlandish fashion, science-fiction, and surreal humor; it would have an influential effect on subsequent funk, post-punk, hip-hop, and post-disco artists of the 1980s and 1990s, while their collective mythology would help pioneer Afrofuturism.

The collective's origins date back to the doo-wop group the Parliaments, formed by Clinton in the late 1950s in Plainfield, New Jersey. Under the influence of late-1960s artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, and Frank Zappa, Clinton later relocated to Detroit and began the sister groups Parliament and Funkadelic, with the former playing an eclectic and more commercial form of funk, and the latter incorporating more influence from psychedelic rock. The groups released albums such as Maggot Brain (1971), Mothership Connection (1975), and One Nation Under a Groove (1978) to critical praise, and scored charting hits with singles such as "Give Up the Funk" (1976), "One Nation Under a Groove" (1978), "Flash Light" (1978), and "Atomic Dog" (1982). Overall, the collective achieved thirteen top ten hits in the American R&B music charts between 1967 and 1983, including six number one hits.

The name "Parliament-Funkadelic" became the catch-all term for the dozens of related musicians recording and touring different projects in Clinton's orbit. Other prominent collective members have included Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Eddie Hazel, and Michael Hampton. By the early 1980s, Clinton and other members had begun solo careers, with Clinton also consolidating the collective's multiple projects and touring under names such as "George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars." Some former members of Parliament perform under the name "Original P". Sixteen members of Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2019, the group will be given Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards.



The Parliaments

The P-Funk story began in 1956 in Plainfield, New Jersey, with a doo-wop group formed by fifteen-year-old George Clinton. This was The Parliaments, a name inspired by Parliament cigarettes. By the early 1960s, the group had solidified into the five-man lineup of Clinton, Ray "Stingray" Davis, Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas. Later, the group rehearsed in a barbershop partially owned by Clinton and entertained the customers. The Parliaments finally achieved a hit single in 1967 with "(I Wanna) Testify" while Clinton began commuting to Detroit as a songwriter and producer for Motown Records.

Funkadelic and Parliament

For more details on this phase of the collective's career, see also Funkadelic and Parliament.

By the late 1960s Clinton had assembled a touring band to back up the Parliaments, the first stable lineup of which included Billy Bass Nelson (bass), Eddie Hazel (lead guitarist), Tawl Ross (guitarist), Tiki Fulwood (drums), and Mickey Atkins (keyboards). After a contractual dispute in which Clinton temporarily lost the rights to the name "The Parliaments," Clinton brought the backing musicians forward and christened them Funkadelic, a guitar-based raw funk band with heavy psychedelic rock influences. Clinton signed Funkadelic to Westbound Records, and the five Parliaments singers were credited as "guests" while the five musicians were listed as the main group members. The debut album Funkadelic was released in 1970.

Meanwhile, Clinton regained the rights to the name "The Parliaments" and initiated another new entity, now known as Parliament, with the same five singers and five musicians but this time as a smoother R&B-based funk ensemble that Clinton positioned as a counterpoint to the more rock-oriented Funkadelic. Parliament first recorded for Invictus Records in 1970, and after a hiatus in which Clinton focused on Funkadelic, Parliament was signed to Casablanca Records and released its debut album Up for the Down Stroke in 1974. The two bands began to tour together under the collective name "Parliament-Funkadelic."

By this time the original ten-member lineup of Parliament-Funkadelic had begun to splinter, but many others joined for various album releases by either band, leading to a collective with a fluid and rapidly expanding membership. Notable members to join during this period include keyboardist Bernie Worrell, bassist Bootsy Collins, guitarist Garry Shider, and The Horny Horns.

In the 1975-1979 period, both Parliament and Funkadelic achieved several high-charting albums and singles on both the R&B and Pop charts. Many members of the collective began to branch out into side bands and solo projects under George Clinton's tutelage, including Bootsy's Rubber Band, Parlet, and The Brides of Funkenstein, while longtime members like Eddie Hazel recorded solo albums with songwriting and studio help from the collective. The Parliament albums of this period had become concept albums with themes from science fiction and afro-futurism, elaborate political and sociological themes, and an evolving storyline with recurring fictional characters. Parliament-Funkadelic stage shows (particularly the P-Funk Earth Tour of 1976) were expanded to include imagery from science fiction and a stage prop known as the Mothership. These concepts came to be known as the P-Funk mythology.

By the late 1970s the Parliament-Funkadelic collective became over-extended and several key members departed acrimoniously over disagreements with Clinton and his management style. Original Parliaments members Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon, and Grady Thomas departed in 1977 after becoming disillusioned with the influx of new members, and later recorded an album under the name Funkadelic. Other members departed and formed new funk bands that detached themselves from P-Funk and even criticized the collective, such as Quazar (formed by guitarist Glenn Goins) and Mutiny (formed by drummer Jerome Brailey). Due to financial difficulties and the collapse of Casablanca Records (Parliament's label), Clinton dissolved Parliament and Funkadelic as separate entities. Many members of the collective continued to work for Clinton, first on his solo albums and later as Parliament-Funkadelic or the P-Funk All Stars.

Modern day Parliament-Funkadelic

In the early 1980s George Clinton continued to record while battling with financial problems and well-publicized drug problems. The remaining members of Parliament-Funkadelic recorded the 1982 hit album Computer Games, which was released as a George Clinton solo album. Included on this release was the much-sampled #1 hit single "Atomic Dog". The following year, Clinton formed the P-Funk All Stars, who went on to record Urban Dancefloor Guerillas in 1983. The P-Funk All Stars included many of the same members as the late-1970s version of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective, and was so named because of various legal issues concerning use of the names Parliament and Funkadelic after 1980. The name P-Funk All Stars is still in use to the current day, and group has included a mix of former Parliament-Funkadelic members as well as guests and new musicians.

As the 1980s continued, P-Funk did not meet with great commercial success as the band continued to produce albums under the name of George Clinton as solo artist. P-Funk retired from touring from 1984 until 1989, except for extremely sporadic performances and TV appearances. It was at this time that Hip hop music began to extensively sample P-Funk music, so remnants of the music were still heard regularly, now among fans of Hip hop. By 1993, most of the Parliament and Funkadelic back catalog had been reissued. The same year saw the return of a reconstituted P-Funk All Stars, with the re-release of Urban Dancefloor Guerrillas under the title Hydraulic Funk, and a new hip hop influenced album Dope Dogs. In 1994, the group toured with the Lollapalooza festival and appeared in the film PCU.

The 1996 album T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership), released under the name George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars, served as a reunion album featuring contributions from the band's most noteworthy songwriters from the earlier eras, such as Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, and Junie Morrison. It would be ten years before another album would be released. In the intervening time, successive tours would slowly restore some of the broken ties between the original band members, together with an accumulation of new talent. On July 23, 1999, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, including noteworthy former members Bootsy and Catfish Collins and Bernie Worrell, performed on stage at Woodstock '99. The collective continues to tour sporadically in to the 2000s, with participation from some of the children and grandchildren of the original members


In May 1997, George Clinton and 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the largest band yet inducted. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Parliament-Funkadelic #56 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time." In February 2002, Spin Magazine ranked Parliament-Funkadelic #6 on their list of the "50 Greatest Bands of All Time". In 2010, Parliament-Funkadelic was #49 on VH1's list of the greatest artists of all time. P-Funk's effect on modern popular music is immense. Besides their innovation in the entire genre of funk music, George Clinton and P-Funk are still heard often today, especially in hip-hop sampling. The song "Atomic Dog" is one of the most sampled songs in the history of hip hop, especially in the sub-genre G-funk. The Red Hot Chili Peppers video for their 2006 single Dani California featured a tribute to Parliament-Funkadelic. Parliament-Funkadelic's musical influence can also be heard in R&B, Soul music, Electronica, Gospel, Jazz, and New Wave.


About the album, Mothership Connection, Clinton said “We had put black people in situations nobody ever thought they would be in, like the White House. I figured another place you wouldn't think black people would be was in outer space. I was a big fan of Star Trek, so we did a thing with a pimp sitting in a spaceship shaped like a Cadillac, and we did all these James Brown-type grooves, but with street talk and ghetto slang.” Like Sun Ra, Clinton wanted to see black people in space – but Clinton wanted to do it in a much more inclusive way. When Bootsy Collins started working with George Clinton, he brought the “on the one” philosophy – the idea that everyone is on the same pulse with the rhythm of the universe, that everything will be together and that that makes all connections stronger. Clinton’s music definitely had a message, but where Sun Ra almost handpicked the people who were allowed to go with him into space, Clinton was all-inclusive. His music is evidence of that.

It is important for these afrofuturistic works to play with and almost recreate mythology as we’ve come to know it because with black people, it’s virtually impossible to know exactly where they come from and what their history is. In his music, Clinton takes that idea, internalizes it and immortalizes it with his music but completely changes the meaning in doing so. There is no kind of stigma that comes with mixing of voices, instruments, personalities and background as Clinton uses them in his music and in that kind of inclusion he’s removing the stigma of being black in America and not knowing your own history. That’s what puts Clinton in a category with Ishmael Reed, Samuel R. Delany and Octavia E. Butler and their use of technology to comment on the experience of black people. Music is the technology Clinton has chosen to employ and like all three authors, he has used it to make a comment on what happened in the past and also to change its context to allow people to have more agency in changing the present and shaping the future.

The music Clinton produced with the Parliaments and the Funkadelics engaged all peoples and it carried a message. All the sci-fi aspects of p-funk are what situate Clinton’s work in an afrofuturistic setting, but also the idea that he took the shared experience of a people – a negative one, at that – and gave it back to those people therefore giving them tremendously more agency than they’d had before. But he did more than that. He connected groups of people and performed in front of mixed audiences where it seemed like the problems that had been keeping these people apart for so long didn’t exist.

Key members

George Clinton (band leader, vocals, keyboards, songwriter, producer; born July 22, 1941). George Clinton has been, since its inception, the driving force behind the development of the P-Funk sound, having led the collective since forming The Parliaments as a doo-wop group in the late 1950s. The funk sound, socially conscious lyrics, and P-Funk mythology developed primarily by Clinton have been especially influential for later R&B, hip hop, and rock music.

William “Bootsy” Collins (bass guitar, vocals, drums, songwriter, producer; born October 26, 1951) Bootsy Collins was a major songwriter, rhythm arranger, and bassist for Parliament-Funkadelic during the seventies and was a major influence in the band's sound during that time. His style of bass playing has become especially influential. Collins later focused his attention on his own Bootsy's Rubber Band but continues to make occasional contributions to studio albums by members of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective.

Eddie Hazel (guitar, vocals, songwriter; April 10, 1950 – December 23, 1992) Eddie Hazel was the original lead guitarist for Funkadelic and was a major force on the first several albums by that group. His Hendrix-inspired style has become very influential. After the early 1970s he contributed sporadically to various Parliament-Funkadelic projects. A key early Funkadelic song that captured both the band's unique sounds and Hazel's talent was the ten-minute guitar solo "Maggot Brain" from the 1971 Funkadelic album of the same title.

Bernie Worrell (keyboards, vocals, songwriter, arranger, born April 19, 1944) Bernie Worrell officially joined Funkadelic after the release of their first album and became an important member of the Parliament-Funkadelic collective thereafter. His innovative use of synthesizers has proven to be very influential, particularly his pioneering use of deep, heavy Moog synthesizer to reinforce the bass line. Eventually, he became responsible for many P-Funk musical arrangements. Worrell left the band in 1981, but continues to contribute to P-Funk studio albums and occasionally appears live with Parliament-Funkadelic as a special guest.

Walter “Junie” Morrison (keyboards, multi-instrumentalist, vocals, songwriter, arranger, producer; born 1954) Junie Morrison joined P-Funk in early 1978 as musical director after having success in the early Ohio Players and as a solo artist. Though primarily a keyboardist, Junie composed or co-wrote several of the band's hits at the height of their popularity and served as a lead vocalist, producer, and arranger on many songs for the collective. Morrison stopped touring with the band after 1981, but contributed to many subsequent albums. During his time with P-funk, some of his work was credited under the name J.S. Theracon.

Garry "Diaperman" Shider (vocals, guitar; July 24, 1953 – June 16, 2010) As a child, Garry Shider was a customer at the barbershop where The Parliaments rehearsed and performed, and after some time with his own group United Soul he was recruited by George Clinton into Funkadelic in 1972. Shider became a frequent lead vocalist on several Parliament and Funkadelic albums and was known for wearing a diaper on stage.

Michael "Kidd Funkadelic" Hampton (guitar; born November 15, 1956) Mike Hampton has been the lead guitarist for P-Funk since 1973, and continues to tour with the band to the present day. He was recruited at age 17 to replace the recently-departed Eddie Hazel, and auditioned by performing Hazel's signature song "Maggot Brain." Hampton is known for adding rock and heavy metal influences to the guitar arrangements used by Parliament-Funkadelic.

Glenn Goins (vocals, guitar; January 2, 1954 – July 29, 1978) Glenn Goins was recruited into Parliament-Funkadelic in 1975 and was an important contributor until 1978 when he departed acrimoniously and formed his own band, Quazar. Goins was known for his gospel-influenced vocal style. Shortly after his departure from the collective, Goins died from Hodgkin's lymphoma at age 24.

Jerome "Bigfoot" Brailey (drums and percussion; born August 20, 1950) Brailey was the most prominent drummer in the Parliament-Funkadelic collective during their period of greatest success in the mid- to late 1970s. Brailey left the collective acrimoniously and formed his own band Mutiny. in which he criticized George Clinton's management style.

Ramon "Tiki" Fulwood (drums, vocals; May 23, 1944 – October 29, 1979) Tiki Fulwood was the original drummer for Funkadelic. He originally quit the band in 1971 but reappeared on several Parliament-Funkadelic releases during the remainder of the 1970s. After also working briefly for Miles Davis, Fulwood died of cancer in 1979.

"Billy Bass" Nelson (bass, guitar; born January 28, 1951) Billy Nelson was a teenage employee at George Clinton's barbershop in the 1960s and was the first musician hired to back The Parliaments in the band that would eventually become Funkadelic. Nelson then brought his friend Eddie Hazel into the band and coined the name "Funkadelic" when Clinton moved the collective to Detroit. Nelson quit Funkadelic in 1971 but contributed to P-Funk releases sporadically for the next few years. Starting in 1994, he toured with the P-Funk All Stars for ten years.

Cordell "Boogie" Mosson (bass, guitar, drums; October 16, 1952 – April 18, 2013) Mosson joined Funkadelic in 1972 along with his friend and previous bandmate Garry Shider. Mosson was the primary bassist for Funkadelic starting in 1972 and Parliament starting a few years later after Bootsy Collins began to focus on his solo career. Since the late 1970s, Mosson most frequently played rhythm guitar on stage. He continued to tour with the collective until his death.

Ray "Stingray" Davis (vocals; March 29, 1940 – July 5, 2005) Ray Davis was the original bass singer and a member of The Parliaments. His distinctive voice can heard on "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)". Aside from Clinton, he was the only original member not to leave in 1979, though he left in 1995 after being diagnosed with cancer.

Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins (vocals, guitar, drums; born June 8, 1941) Haskins was a member of The Parliaments, in addition to writing through 1972 and playing. He left in 1977, although later formed Original P with the other Parliaments.

Calvin Simon (vocals, percussion; born May 22, 1942) Simon was an original member of The Parliaments, before leaving in 1977. He now runs a record label.

Notable songs

See also

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