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Interview:
George Clinton finds better living through funk
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

After 50 years of making music -- much of it in and around the Detroit metro area -- and more than 40 as an acknowledged pioneer of funk, George Clinton certainly had a book in him.

But the founder of Parliament and Funkadelic and prolific solo artist says he "wasn't in a hurry" to do that. In fact had a clear purpose in penning "Brothas Be, Yo Like George Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on you?," which was published during October.

Clinton, a 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, says the reason for the book's existence can be found in an the appendixes, specifically a legal statement by a former employee of Southfield-based Bridgeport Music, a publishing firm Clinton claims is one of many businesses he was affiliated with who cheated him out of royalties and other resources, including a home in Brooklyn, Mich., over a long period of time. "I wanted to get that out there," Clinton explains, "but once I started remembering all the things we've gone through, I realized it's a pretty good story and would be a great book, so we just moved forward. It's been a lot of fun telling the story."

Clinton remains embroiled in a tangle of lawsuits to this day, and much of the takeaway of "Brothers Be, Yo..." deals with that. " "Even though I knew I could make the music, I couldn't take care of the business, and I always thought I could -- egotistically," says the 73-year-old North Carolina native, who came to Detroit during the mid-60s to be a staff writer at Motown and now resides in Tallahassee, Fla. "I thought I could make music that would make people want to take care of the business right and everythign would be good.

"But that's not true. There's greedy people who, no matter how much they get, they want it all."

And being clean and sober for four years now, Clinton adds that, "I learned that you can't be (messed) up and expect anything else but (messed) up (stuff). If your intention is to be high, get wasted, get (messed) up, you should expect that anything you do is gonna have the same result. I spent a lot of money to be (messed) up, so I got what I was asking for."

Music, however, has remained the antidote to Clinton's financial morass, and the book is filled with remembrances of his bandmates, touring adventures and flamboyant concerts. He's one of the most sampled artists in history and has been widely respected and supported by colleagues such as Prince, who once signed Clinton to his Paisley Park record label, and rapper Snoop Dogg, with whom Clinton is working on a new movie called "Dope Dogs."

And his own beat goes on with a just-released new Funkadelic album "First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate," a two-disc set that features good pal Sly Stone, and a fresh Parliament set that's due out in 2015.

"We've been lucky so far," Clinton notes. "Funk is DNA for all the dance music of the last 25 years, so we've been able to be included in every new genre that comes along and we've been able to forge relationships with almost every new dance music, whether it's disco, hip-hop, techno, acid jazz, bass and drums, whatever.

"We've been able to be a part of everything that comes by, so whatever happens, I can find me a reason to be valid."

* George Clinton performs during halftime of the Detroit Pistons game on Friday, Dec. 19, vs. the Toronto Raptors. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

* Clinton will sign copies of his new autobiography, "Brothers Be, Yo, Like George..." from 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, at United Sound Systems, 5840 Second Ave., Detroit. The $40 admission includes a copy of the book. Call 313-833-1833 or visit www.unitedsounddetroit.com.




Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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