From Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and 2Pac to De La Soul, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino and everyone in between, Parliament-Funkadelic’s George Clinton’s music has been sampled by countless artists. If it was a hit song in the mid-late 90’s, it was probably a funkadelic sample in it somewhere. As, the chief architect of funk, Clinton paved the way for G-Funk and without him, we wouldn’t have songs like Warren G’s “Regulate” or Dre’s “Let Me Ride,” De La Soul’s “My, Myself & I”, Tupac’s “Holla if you Hear Me” and numerous other hit records.
Now, at age 80, the ambassador of funk is slowing down his partying days — a lot. In the past couple of years, he has stopped taking drugs and has officially retired from touring, in the traditional sense. He still may be on tour with the band, but he won’t be performing with them.
All of this change is due to his change in health. In 2018, Clinton had a pacemaker put in to help treat a heart condition. As the mastermind behind Parliament-Funkadelic’s unique sound turns 79 this year, he reflects on his life and all that he’s learned.
“This music is historical,” says Clinton. “And, this is not just the records. It’s in The Snoop, Dre, Tupac, right up until today. It all samples this music. The musicians pay for the samples but it doesn’t go to the right people. But, the drugs were a way that these people could get my music and recordings. On drugs, it was a pain in the ass to deal with. I had to clean up just to get respect from people to talk about it.
It was while doing what he loves most, creating music, that he felt something was wrong.
“I thought I had vertigo but it was my body saying, ‘You go. You go sit your ass down,’” he said with a chuckle. “I went and checked, and oh yeah, it was that time. A valve, not in my heart itself, the electrical wires, I had shook them loose. I was funkin’ too hard. They told me I couldn’t raise my left arm too high. So I have to use my right arm to direct the shows now.”
“I have to be cool period,” he continues. “I can direct the band but I can’t go out there and jump up and down. It’s just overwhelming. You know I’m going to try. But you definitely know when it’s time to sit your ass down.”
Even though it was later in life that he decided to stop doing drugs, it was something that he felt needed to be done.
“I was 70 years old when I started trying to clean it up. You ain’t got that much energy and that much time, and the drugs weren’t working no more. They weren’t even…