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The concert trail will be a lot less funky without George Clinton. The 77-year-old mastermind behind the Parliament-Funkadelic collective is saying goodbye to the road on the "One Nation Under a Groove" farewell tour that hits Central Park Summerstage on Tuesday.
Here, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer - who funked up classic jams such as "Atomic Dog," "Flash Light" and, of course, "One Nation Under a Groove" - dishes on cartoons, spaceships and finally giving up drugs in his 70s.
What was behind the decision to give up the funk on this farewell tour? The kids are tearin' it up with the newest version of P-Funk. I've been rehearsing them for the last three years on the stage. They've been doing most of the shows. I'll still be making music...and producing and stuff. It's just that they got it now - it's the third generation of P-Funk. I've been slowly doing this for the last three years. I've been directing the band and being the hype man, but they've been basically performing the shows. I feel good about passing the baton on to the next generation.
What are your plans for your retirement from the road? We have a lot of [animated] cartoons we gon' do from those stories and things that we did over the years with [P-Funk characters such as] Sir Nose and Atomic Dog and Dope Dogs. And that's where the music will be received in the future. It's not so much selling records - you got to find new ways for people to appreciate the music. The cartoons are ready for the funk.
What about anything personal that you want to do? I might take this cat at Virgin Airlines [Richard Branson] up on one of his trips up to the space station...I know a little bit about spaceships.
You are considered one of the godfathers of funk. Who do you think are some of the funkiest young artists out today? You've got Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson Paak. Those guys, they just play with the funk with their new version and the old funk...Funk is the DNA in hip-hop and any dance music, pretty much. You got a booty, you gon' want some funk up in there.
If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, what would you say to your self? You ain't gettin' high! You think you high, you ain't gettin' high. You ain't doin' nothin' but wasting time and money. You get caught up in whatever is the going, trendy chemical substance. You get caught up in that, and it takes you a long time to wiggle your way out of it, if you do. I feel proud and lucky and grateful to my family - my wife and everybody around - that gave me that energy and inspiration to do it. 'Cause I didn't wake up 'til I was 70 years old! I had to really back up, stop, turn around.
"One Nation Under a Groove" turned 50 last year. What are your memories of making that song? [Keyboardist] Junie Morrison, from the Ohio Players, that was his first day of coming to hang with us and play with the group. [Guitarist] Garry Shider just started leading everybody into that groove, and it was on from then. I just started ad-libbing [the words because] some girls had said that we looked like "one nation under a groove" with all the Afros on this beach when we were doing this outdoor concert...It brings into play not only one nation under a groove, but one planet under a groove. It insinuates all people, all of us, can dance our way out of whatever constriction we're in. When you blend with each other, when you harmonize with each other, you can come up out of any situation.