Do not attempt to adjust your radio, there is nothing wrong. On Thursday, May 5, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic will take control of your funky mind and return it to you as soon as you are grooving. Word is the Mothership will be landing in full force at the Soundboard.
Long-time funkateers know there is nothing quite like a P-Funk experience, even if they can’t quite measure up to the funk extravaganzas of old when an actual spaceship would land on stage and Dr. Funkenstein himself would appear at the top of the staircase in an explosion of white smoke and multi-colored lights, looking like a drag queen pimp with a long blonde wig, a white fur coat with matching fur apple hat, and white platform shoes studded in gold. Oh yeah, and a cane. And the wraparound shades.
Those were the days, man.
Today, Clinton is 74 years old, and he sports a sharp suit and hat at each performance. Don’t bother trying to find any of those suits at any store anywhere near you because, please believe, they are sharp enough to cut a square and make him bleed. Still, the look is somewhat shocking to those who can recall all of the outrageous costumes of old. Clinton also shares the stage these days not only with his children but even some of his grandchildren who have been brought up in the mysterious ways, means, and secrets of the funk. Most of the original band members are no longer part of the crew, but the funk remains as potent as ever.
Still, one has to wonder how long Dr. Funkenstein can keep this up. Or even, why he feels the need? Granted, as someone who has ascended to the throne of master and legend, it can be understood why he might want to continue to do what he does best. And as long as George Clinton chooses to perform, there will always be ecstatic crowds on hand to cheer him on.
But in a recent conversation with the Funk master, it became clear that there is more on his mind these days – much, much more – than simply continuing to chant “We want the funk.” Specifically, Clinton has been laser-focused in recent years on how to recoup the more than $250 million he believes has been stolen from him over the years by a corrupt record industry. And he is making progress. For those interested in learning the details of Clinton’s remarkable career, as well as his more recent battles with the industry, you need to pick up his biography, “Brothers Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t that Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?” Although the hardcover is practically impossible to find these days (because it has been banned due to a court fight, says Clinton) it can still be obtained via Kindle. The heavy duty detail begins on page 378.
The following is abbreviated, but it should give you the general idea of what has Clinton so angry – and so determined. Because if even half of what he describes is true, Clinton – and his family and bandmates – should have long ago had the option of scaling back and enjoying their lives in a manner to which they are most certainly entitled after all those years of hits and samples.
APPENDIX C: STATEMENT OF JANE PETERER THOMPSON
“I have personal knowledge of the matters discussed herein and am able to testify as to the matters set forth herein, as called as a witness…
“I formerly maintained a working relationship with Mr. Armen Boladian and Bridgeport Music, Inc., et al of Southfield, Michigan, and at times other companies under Mr. Boladian’s control, ownership, and/or affiliation … for approximately 24 years beginning in 1984 and ending in January 2008.
“During that period of time I worked as an administrator where my primary task was to administer the copyrights of Bridgeport Music.
“In 1990, Mr. Boladian obtained a notary stamp on the March 4, 1982 dated agreement and then refiled the document with the U.S. Copyright Office himself and thereby placed 164 separate copyright registrations for musical works related to Mr. Clinton and his groups, Parliament and Funkadelic, Brides of Funkenstein, as well as Philippe Wynne, Glen Goins, and Eddie Hazel, into the name of Bridgeport Music. ….
“I only later learned that Mr. Boladian fraudulently and materially altered this March 4, 1982 document and then recorded it with the U.S. Copyright Office to create a claim of ownership in these 164 separate copyright registrations in the name of Bridgeport Music.”
So you get the idea. But what’s worse is that, according to Clinton, it is still going on.
“The Grammy that I just got with Kendrick [Lamar], they’re claiming ownership of that,” he said. “They’re trying to block me getting the money. I want you to go to the U.S. Copyright Office and see [who they say wrote the song]. It’s a song I wrote with Kendrick, and already those same people, it’s in their name at the copyright office.”
But it doesn’t stop there.
“In the movie Straight Outta Compton, half the music in there is ours, but right now they got it all tied up in the courts and different people, and they all work in concert with each other. I haven’t seen one dime for any of it; not for what I did with Kendrick, or Straight Outta Compton.” Or anything else that we got, like all those commercials we got out there right now [using P-Funk songs].”
“If I wasn’t making this much noise, nobody would ask like you just asked. Nobody would even care, and that’s been my whole mission, to try to get some relevancy back into the thing so people will pay attention. And it’s working.”
But despite how long and hard the struggle has been, Clinton remains strongly optimistic that he will prevail in the end and get the money he is owed.
“That’s what a lot of the companies are afraid of, because they did this to everybody.”
“It’s getting ready to explode.”
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic will appear at Sound Board on Thursday, May 5, at 8 pm. Tickets are $45, $32, and $30.