Parliament-Funkadelic gave birth to every single motley crew of funk and don't-give-a-fuck all-stars we love so much. Funkadelic, of course, begat Public Enemy, which then begat the Wu-tang Clan, which then begat Odd Future, etc. Ask not what the funk can do for you, but what you can do for the funk.
The act, led by Clinton, got its start in 1956 in Plainsfield, New Jersey, and chose the "Parliament" moniker as a throw to the cigarettes of the same name. From a five-man doo-wop group, the act produced a cast of world-class players that, besides Clinton, included Eddie Hazel, Bootsy Collins, Calvin Simon, Ray "Stingray" Davis, Clarence "Fuzzy" Haskins, Grady Thomas, Tiki Fulwood and a slew of others who keep our lives rhythmic.
One of Parliament Funkadelic's finest creations is "Maggot Brain," with the famous guitar work of Hazel. As the story goes, George Clinton, reportedly high on LSD, told Hazel while in the studio to play as if he'd been told that his mother had died...and then learned it was not true. The ten-minute collage of emotion is pretty much one of the greatest things you'll ever hear.
And the cats have still got it. When Funkadelic came to City Hall Amphitheater recently, they shut the place down with all the classics, including "Flashlight" and the uber-funky "Give Up the Funk." The atmosphere was ethereal, and every person on stage had a purpose and a meaning -- the band, the crazy-ass dancer wearing shaggy pants who was climbing on every thing. It was the best representation of beauty and chaos you can imagine.
And so today, we can't help but pledge allegiance to the funk. The P-Funk movement is a real thing, and George Clinton is a genius. We are all direct descendents of the funk, the holy funk and nothing but the funk. Thus we would all do well to heed the genius's advice to free your mind and your ass will follow.
February has traditionally been the month when the contributions from, traditions of and historical facts about African-Americans are celebrated. In honor of Black History Month, Backbeat will be celebrating iconic figures in the world of black music.
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