Culture City

Funk My Life: George Clinton On The Mothership, Misfortune & Motown

Friday, December 19, 2014

“I’ve been de-flead, de-ticked and I got my rabies shot and I’m ready to bury the bone.”


The Prime Minister of Funk takes a break from his whirlwind schedule while he’s in Detroit to sit down with Trav at F.B.T. Studio in Ferndale to talk about his master class at the Detroit Institute of Music Education, performing with the Detroit Pistons, his upcoming appearance and book signing for his new memoir, “Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?" and of course, his music. Because, if everything else wasn’t already enough, Clinton also recently released a new album called, “First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate.” Phew!

As far as the title of the book, Clinton tells Travis the book is the “real deal,” and reflects the very real things that people say to him. The memoir recounts his long career in music, and years of court proceedings in a lengthy legal battle with Bridgeport Music Inc. Clinton, like many other artists, has found himself in a complicated copyright dispute about who actually owns the rights to some of his most beloved tunes from the 1970s and ‘80s. He tells Travis a little about those legal proceedings and “the struggle” he chronicles in his book.

Clinton also discusses the legacy of his music and what he enjoys about listening and learning new music from young artists on the rise. His fourth album with Parliament, “Mothership Connection,” is an example of the symbiotic relationship between artists that is so important to Clinton. Mothership is “the legacy…and has probably been sampled more than any other album around, the Mothership is not only our history, but it’s also Dr. Dre’s history and the backbone” for a lot of music that came out in the 1980s and ‘90s, Clinton tells Travis.

As far as his longstanding love affair with Detroit, Clinton says he first came to Detroit from New Jersey when he heard Mary Wells and The Temptations in the late 1950s, however he says that when he got here, that music was on its way out, and making way for rock n roll. Clinton recalls being influenced by MC5, Iggy and The Stooges and many others. "We saw things were changing, so we had to change too."