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George Clinton

Musician, Parliament Funkadelic

Music genius George Clinton has for decades been known as the Godfather of Funk—a mix of soul, jazz, R&B, and psychedelic rock. Beginning in music as a teenager singing doo wop, Clinton was influenced early by singer Frankie Lymon and became a songwriter on the Motown label with the hope of being a featured artist. Unable to fit into the Motown mold as an artist, Clinton did what all innovators do: he created—his own unique blend of music that was shaped by an array of masters such as Jimi Hendrix, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and others. Clinton has had hits for more than 40 years and has never lost his groove. He and his band Parliament Funkadelic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. George Clinton has permanently tilted the music landscape with his uniquely funky sound, lyrics, and rhythm.

His statement, “Funk is the DNA of hip-hop” is indisputably true, for young rap and hip-hop disciples such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and the late Tupac Shakur have used his musical sound to formulate their works. The compositions that have proved been most popular with hip-hop and rap acts are "One Nation Under a Groove," "Freak of the Week" and "(Not Just) Knee Deep."

The legislation that Clinton mentions in our interview is H.R. 848, the Performance Rights Act. This bill, introduced in the 111th Congress by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and co-sponsored by Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), would require radio stations to pay royalties to performers of sound recordings for radio play. The bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on May 13, 2009. The Senate counterpart to H.R. 848 is S. 379, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

The recent judicial success that George Clinton cites in the interview is Bridgeport Music Inc. v.  UMG Recordings Inc., 585 F.3d 267 (6th Cir. 2009). There, the court agreed with a jury verdict that the song “D.O.G. in Me” by UMG and Universal Music Group Inc. infringed Bridgeport’s copyright on Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” by using the well-known phrase “Bow wow wow, yippie yo, yippie yea.” However, Clinton himself has battled Bridgeport to recover song copyrights that he transferred decades ago.

Intellirights would like to thank George Clinton and his management and tour teams, especially Carlon Scott and Alan Cann. We also thank the staff at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.

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