The Stage on Bay
Thursday, May 10, doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
$29-69 via savconcerts.com
THE MOTHERSHIP is about to land.
The godfather of funk himself, George Clinton, brings his spring tour to Savannah this Thursday, and The Hostess City is about to get funked up.
The inimitable showman will offer a concert for the ages for folks of all ages, complete with all the hits you know and love.
In the early 1950s, Clinton was singing doo-wop in the back of the barbershop where he worked. The Parliaments, as a teenaged Clinton christened the quintet, earned a minor hit, “(I Wanna) Testify,” with their Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers-inspired sound, but Clinton was just getting started.
After temporarily losing rights to the “The Parliaments” as a band name, Clinton christened the project Funkadelic, fleshing it out with five musicians backing the Parliaments singers. Clinton officially pushed away from the doo-wop sound to avoid working with Atlantic Records, who bought the rights to The Parliaments.
In 1970, Clinton would relaunch the group as Parliament, an R&B-based funk band. Funkadelic and Parliament were signed to two separate labels, with over 50 contributing musicians creating two different styles of funk music as a collective.
The ‘70s became the thriving era of P-Funk, with the ensemble clocking over 40 hit R&B singles, three Number One hits, and three platinum albums. Funkadelic pushed a psychedelic rock flavor while Parliament sought inspiration in the stylings of James Brown and Sly Stone, combining a love of sci-fi, costuming, and an unforgettable stage show.
The legendary keyboard player Bernie Worrell got his first Funkadelic album credit on Free Your Mind...And Your Ass Will Follow. Worrell co-wrote on Maggot Brain, which followed in 1971. With classical training and a keen interest in emerging synthesizer technology, Worrell became the beating heart of Parliament/Funkadelic and defined the collective’s now-iconic sound.
Two years later, another crucial member joined: bassist Bootsy Collins, who had cut his teeth in James Brown’s backing band. Collins was first featured on the album America Eats Its Young.
Parliament hit the mainstream with Mothership Connection, a concept album that would go on to influence years of rock, jazz, and pop music. The record is widely considered one of the greatest albums ever made, and the single “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” was a certified million-selling single.
Dr. Funkenstein was born in 1976 on the record The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein. Parliament finally hit Number One with the now-classic song “Flash Light” in 1978. That same year, the album Moto Booty Affair produced the Number One hit “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop).”
In the 1980s, Clinton began a career as a solo artist with recordings featuring P-Funk’s core members. He began recording as the P-Funk All-Stars in 1982—the All-Stars produced the hits “Loopzilla” and “Atomic Dog.”
Since the 1980s, Clinton has worked as a producer for a variety of artists, including Bootsy Collins and Red Hot Chili Peppers. He found his way into the hip-hop world—Dr. Dre sampled Clinton’s beats during his G-Funk music era, and Clinton worked with Tupac, Ice Cube, and Wu Tang Clan, and artists as recent as Kendrick Lamar.This January, Parliament released the single “I’m Gon Make U Sick O’Me,” featuring Scarface. The group’s first song in over 30 years will be on the upcoming record Medicaid Fraud Dog.
In recent decades, Clinton’s innovative contributions to music have been honored in many ways: he was inducted in to the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009, received an Honorary Docorate of Music from Berklee in 2012, and was awarded the Urban Icon Award from BMI.
In April 2018, Clinton announced plans to retire from touring, effective May 2019. Though he recently underwent pacemaker surgery, that procedure allegedly did not impact Clinton’s decision to retire.
“This has been a coming a long time,” the legend said in a statement. “Anyone who has been to the shows over the past couple of years has noticed that I’ve been out front less and less.”
The P-Funk Band will carry on without Clinton following his retirement.
“Truth be told, it’s always been about the music and the band,” Clinton explained. “That’s the real P-Funk legacy. They’ll still be funkin’ long after I stop.”
It is highly likely this is the final opportunity the Lowcountry has to see a national treasure live and in person, so get a ticket in advance and get ready to make the ultimate Mothership Connection.