You go to a concert nowadays and you may hear a great band, maybe even see an inspiring light show and some cool costumes and props.
But how many people can say they went to a concert and saw a spaceship land center stage? Well, if you happened to be in the audience in the mid-'70s or mid-'90s when this guest slinked out of the top of one such spaceship, then you know we are talking about the Mothership and its iconic head pilot, known by many as Dr. Funkenstein, but by his mother, simply as George.
George Clinton has a new book out this week. It's his memoir: "Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't that Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?"
Clinton joined Take Two in the studio to talk about the memoir and why, after years of writing so much music, he decided to pen a book.
(KPCC staff was so excited to have him in the studio, that it resulted in some fan photos, seen in the slideshow above.)
It strikes me that 'funk' used to be a bad word?
Lots of words used to be bad. It's just communication. Whatever period you're in, words change their meaning. Funk used to be one of those words. You'd get smacked upside your head if you say that. It was too close to… you know.
What about the connotations of the word 'funk'?
My grandparents thought we were insinuating the other word. It's always nasty but nasty's good too.
Then you have a whole genre of music that you're one of the pioneers of that it's named after.
Funk is the DNA for hip-hop. A lot of techno music, disco, a lot of rock music. Chili Peppers is a good example, that's rock as funky as you can get. Funk just is in everything.
How is it different writing a book from writing music?
This book, I had one intention. It's my story on trying to recapture for my heirs and my family all the copyright and ownership of all the music you're talking about. That’s my whole reason for writing the book. I'm not finished otherwise, I'd still be out here jamming. We are going to the Supreme Court fighting over ex-lawyers and managers and record companies over this music that's going into the Smithsonian.
Is it easier to write a book than music?
It's easier because I've been planning to write the book all that time we were doing that crazy stuff. I wasn't doing it for nothing. I knew I had to put this down. So I've been planning to do this for a long time.
Early on, you were rejected, essentially, by Motown and that's something in the book that really surprised me.
We were too late. By the time we got there The Temptations had that look and style sewed up. We were short and chubby and they were 6-feet and thin, so it was about a look and we didn't fit that so we decided we'd do totally the opposite.
When did you feel like you had made it?
I still don't feel like I've made it. If you feel like that, you ain't got nowhere else to go. It's like catching up with happy; if you catch up with happy where is there to go? You're bored.
I need something to aspire to; I need some place I haven't done yet. As soon as I hear Eminem, Kendrick Lamarr, that kind of fresh, you think, 'I ain't done nothing yet.'
As soon as I hear old musicians … or parents say, "That ain't music" I run to that music, that's the music I want. Because it's going to be the next music. Kids love the music that gets on your nerve.