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Musician. Born July 22, 1941, in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, Clinton began his music career in the 1950's, while working at a barbershop in Newark, New Jersey. He founded a doo-wop singing quintet he called The Parliaments out of the shop's backroom. When Clinton headed to Detroit in the early 1960s to work as a staff songwriter for Motown, the group stayed in New Jersey but continued to work together long distance.
Landing a deal with Revilot Records, The Parliaments turned out their first hit with in 1967 with the single "(I Just Wanna) Testify," which landed at No. 3 on the Billboard R&B charts. The only member of The Parliaments to actually appear on the recording, however, was Clinton; no one else was able to travel to Detroit for the session, so studio musicians filled in.
When Revilot went bankrupt later that year, the group's name became tied up in litigation. In 1968, they renamed themselves Funkadelic, after Clinton's back-up band. In 1972, when Clinton was finally able to get back the Parliament name, the group began using both the Parliament and Funkadelic monikers, but under different record labels. Often referring to himself as "the Referee", Clinton mixed and matched the musicians and singers in his groups, which helped maintain a fresh, innovative sound.
Inspired by the sounds of revolutionary bands like the Stooges and MC 5 as well as musicians Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and Sly Stone, Clinton began looking for ways to experiment with his musical compositions. Parliament explored and invented new sounds through funk - a twist on soul that included psychedelic guitar, deep bass groove, and bizarre sound effects - while Funkadelic cultivated a rock sound.
Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic released more than 40 R&B hit singles and three platinum albums during the 70's. But as the musical powerhouse reached the 80's, Clinton became weighed down by legal difficulties arising from Polygram's acquisition of Parliament's label, Casablanca. Clinton was forced to rename the groups again in 1982, this time signing to Capitol as a solo act and as the P.Funk All-Stars.
His first solo album, Computer Games (1982) was a hit contained the Top 20 single "Loopzilla" and the No. 1 hit, "Atomic Dog." Clinton stayed with Capitol for three more years, releasing more Top 40 singles including "Nubian Nut" and "Do Fries Go With That Shake?". But as the 80s rolled on, Clinton and his group faced a decline in popularity.
In the 1990s, Clinton's music experienced a resurgence as rappers such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur began sampling his work. He also received an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, along with 15 other members of Parliament-Funkadelic. He continues to tour, and in 2010 he announced that he is finishing up work on a new album with Sly Stone, which is slated for released in May 2010.
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