George Clinton keeps funk flame alive

George Clinton appears at Stern Grove this weekend with Parliament Funkadelic. (Courtesy photo)

George Clinton appears at Stern Grove this weekend with Parliament Funkadelic. (Courtesy photo)

“Everybody wants a piece of the funk,” says George Clinton.

The 75-year-old bandleader’s claim will be borne out by multi-generational multitudes swarming for a piece of ground at Stern Grove on Sunday to witness the current iteration of Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic ensemble.

“We can’t just let it fall away and disappear into history, just like all the other music,” says Clinton, by phone from his home base in Florida.

Clinton and the infectious electronic funky sound he helped integrate in pop music have no need to fear obsolescence.

Though his Parliament group began with mid-1950s doo wop, and Funkadelic started as a late ‘60s Afro-grunge aggregation of electrified instrumentalists, the amalgamated group nicknamed P-Funk survived its peak popularity in the late ‘70s and was heavily sampled by later hip-hoppers.

Earlier this year, Clinton was joined by two generations of rappers, Ice Cube and Kendrick Lamar, on a music video, “Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?” That rhetorical question also appeared on the cover of Clinton’s memoir, published last year.

The giant sci-fi “Mothership” prop, which started out stage shows for P-Funk 40 years ago, is to be berthed at the Smithsonian Museum.

“The hardest thing about funkin’,” insists Clinton, “is actually fighting the corporations who wanna own it, trying to own the history of the group, and keep it from being relevant.” He’s referring to a protracted series of suits and countersuits, some involving Bridgeport Music, a Michigan music publishing firm which Clinton claims forged documents to deprive him of his rights to financial benefits of his creation and to restrict his sharing his material with other musicians.

“Tear the Roof Off,” a new documentary by sometime actor Bobby Brown, which screened earlier this month at the SF DocFest and the San Francisco Black Film Festival, includes a history of P-Funk that painted Clinton in less than glowing colors.

“I don’t know anything about it, though I heard talk about it,” he says. “It ain’t the one with everyone talking like they’re mad, is it?” Informed that there’s a strong element of negative testimony, he responds, “It’s someone trying to stop this momentum we got going.”

Clinton’s counting of his blessings includes the declaration: “I’m over drugs, I don’t take no pain medicine.”

The interview is interrupted by the arrival of his band, which, like his fans, spans generations. “One of the guitar players, and several of the horn players, go back to ‘78,” he says. “My son is a guitar player and sings, seven are my grandkids, and they’re hip-hoppers, they make the beats and stuff. Basically what the act is, is generations of characters, some catgirls, some just weird. It really is like theater.”

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
Where: Stern Grove, 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard, S.F.
When: 2 p.m. June 26
Admission: Free
Contact:, (415) 252-6252

Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?funkGeorge ClintonIce CubeKendrick LamarMothershipParliament. FunkadelicPop MusicStern GroveTear the Roof Off

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

Steven Buss, left, and Sachin Agarwal co-founded Grow SF, which plans to produce election voter guides offering a moderate agenda. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Grow SF: New tech group aims to promote moderate ideals to political newcomers

Sachin Agarwal has lived in San Francisco for 15 years. But the… Continue reading

Most Read