The more things change, the more they stay the same. One person who personifies that saying is funk legend George Clinton. This past weekend, the “Atomic Dog” creator came back home to Newark, New Jersey to perform his FunkFest at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
Though the show was everything you’d imagine a George Clinton show to be, George himself has changed. Gone are the rainbow bright dreads and crazy costumes. Clinton now chooses to keep a closely cropped cut and dresses in the flyest suits you could imagine.
After his electrifying performance, The Urban Daily was invited backstage for a brief interview about his feelings about coming home, fighting to get possession of his masters, and the wild antics of groupies. Follow along as the original funk doctor leads nation under one groove.
TUD: We just saw you kill the show with hits upon hits. Are you working on any new music?
GC: Yeah, we’re in the studio now working on some stuff.
Wikipedia says you were born in North Carolina, but I always thought you were a Jersey Boy. Who’s right?
I was born in North Carolina and raised in Newark, New Jersey. I had a barbershop in Plainfield, New Jersey.
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What do you remember about being in the doo-wop groups back in the day?
I was walking around Newark today and stopped at all of the corners we used to sing on and it just brought so many memories back. Man, we used to be on Avon Ave, Bergen Street School, Southside which is Shabazz now. We used to be all over around here.
How has Newark changed since you’ve been away?
S**t, all of the projects gone. [laughs] When we were growing up, you couldn’t see from Bergen Street all the way downtown. You can damn near see Bergen Street from downtown now.
I’m going to throw out a song title of yours and you tell me what you remember about making that record. When I say, “Atomic Dog,’ what do you remember about making that?
Oh, you don’t want to hear about that one. Ask another one. [laughs]
“Paint The Whitehouse Black”?
You’ve been around for a while. So obviously you’ve seen the industry change. As you’ve gotten older have the groupies gotten older or is there a new crop of groupies?
Well, there’s always a new crop of groupies. [laughs] I saw some groupies out there tonight that I knew and they are great grandmothers. They were still out in the audience.
It’s like you get on stage and do your thing. Then, the groupies come around. I just always wanted to know if they got older and still were out there in that life.
Yeah, they get older, but then new ones come in and take their place. [laughs] Some of the older ones are still out here competing with the 17 and 18 year olds.
Why do you think contemporary artists don’t do straight funk music? Why do you think they treat funk like sacred ground?