The world of Funk Master George Clinton
George Clinton looks back on his 55-year career and talks about giving back to his band's community.
This story was originally covered by PRI's Smiley and West. For more, listen to the audio above.
The musician whose hair is colorful and large today, found his start at a barbershop where he processed hair. "We used to make folks cool. That was our job," says Clinton. "And the barbershop was the center of everything that happened in Plainfield for kids." While working at the shop, he started a doo-wop band that evolved into the groups Parliament and Funkadelic.
Clinton saw that the best opportunities for most kids growing up in the community were boxing and playing ball, and last year he made a commitment to try to change that. He is dedicating 25 percent of all future earnings from his "Funkadelic Music Catalog" to the Barack Obama Green Charter High School in Plainfield, New Jersey.
The 69-year-old, Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductee explains that in addition to fundraising for the community, he hopes the catalog will encourage people to celebrate his collaborators. "My thing is to preserve all that music that these guys: Garry Shider, Glen Goins, Eddie Hazel, Ray Davis … we're going to keep that music alive. Right now, we're fighting for the life of that music."
The catalog will also feature a brand new Motown album, and collaborations with Sly Stone, Red Hot Chili Peppers, El DeBarge, and Kim Burrell.
George Clinton is still most comfortable on stage: "I can do that with a smile or whatever it takes. My feet growed -- I got the biggest feet up there, on my ego." Having been in the music industry so many years, George Clinton is able to maintain his positive attitude with a simple motto: "You do the best you can, and funk it."
Broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Princeston Professor Cornel West co-host "Smiley and West," a one-hour weekly show of thought provoking, intelligent and stimulating dialogue on every subject from news and politics to entertainment and culture. "Smiley and West" is distributed nationwide by PRI.