Dr. Funkenstein’s House Call: It was 1989. The place was Los Angeles, well L.A. County anyway. The actual locations were various, including Culver City, Hollywood and Burbank. I was just a few years out of college (California State University Northridge) with a degree in Radio-Television-Film and plugging into everything I could in pursuit of my ultimate dream of working in the recording industry. That included record promotion, writing syndicated radio program copy, disc jockey work (clubs and private events), hosting and producing an album review TV show, and music critique and journalism.
One of my adventures associated with the latter was serving as a columnist for Anaheim-based Inside Video and Music magazine (now defunct). My primary beat was black music, which was just fine with me because that was my favorite genre from the get-go. I was exposed to dancing and black music at age 10 with the Jackson 5 and Edwin Starr, and a few years later the first three albums I ever bought with my own money were Stevie Wonder’s Fulfillingness First Finale, the Ohio Players’ Skin Tight and Parliament’s Mothership Connection. How is that for an all-time classic trio? I was a hard-core funkateer by the time I hit my teen years, and although my tastes and music experiences have broadened immensely through the years, I will always be a freak for the funk at my very core.
So given my predilection for The One (a defining element of funk is emphasizing the first beat in 4/4 musical time), I hotly pursued leveraging my position to meet and interview one of my all-time musical heroes, George Clinton. He was promoting a new album at the time, his first in three long years and also first for Warner Bros. following several under his own name for Capitol Records. It was called The Cinderella Theory and was released on Prince’s WB boutique insignia Paisley Park Records. Prince is another musical hero of mine (not met him yet) and this pairing was a marriage made in funk heaven. Unfortunately, the album ended up being Clinton’s weakest solo effort ever. However, it afforded me the opportunity to connect with him at Warners’ Burbank offices where I spent at least an hour asking him everything I always wanted to know. Much of it ended up being in the article shown here.
That meeting was a thrill for sure but what really escalated my experience and this tale was what was to come later. At the urging of my girlfriend at the time, I asked George if he would like to be my guest later that week for a home-cooked dinner. To my astonishment, he took me up on it! Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised as several years earlier I had managed to go on a private boating excursion in Marina del Rey, Calif., with Bootsy Collins (Aqua Boogie for real! But that is another story.).
George informed me he did not drive and so I picked him up at the hotel he was staying at under an alias. When I arrived there I found various band members, friends and family hanging out. I learned the secret code knock to gain admittance — the opening drum pattern to the 1973 Funkadelic classic Cosmic Slop. I was now inside funk’s inner circle.
No sooner had the good Dr. Funkenstein entered my one-bedroom condo in the Fox Hills area of Culver City and met my girlfriend that he plopped down on the couch, busted out some herb and began rolling a fattie (a.k.a. joint). Between the natural high of having Clinton in my crib and the mind-altering ganja the doc had prescribed I was feeling ever so fine floating on cloud nine. In fact, we were both so wasted we spent more time gabbing and cracking up than eating the fine dinner that had been put before us. Just below is a photo taken of George and I feeling no pain in my living room that fateful evening.
I had a blast showing George my entirely comprehensive P-Funk discography of original vinyl albums. I was shocked to learn he no longer had copies of several of them. I was all too happy to oblige his request for copies of some of them on cassette tapes as well as his desire to have some of my own P-Funk mix tapes. In exchange he gave me a tape containing a complete unreleased Funkadelic album! Talk about a Holy Grail-like item. It was the material for the By Way of the Drum album MCA was supposed to soon release but never did. A few years later, much to my dismay, that lone tape copy was part of the losses I suffered in one of the many break-ins of my car I “enjoyed” as an L.A. area resident. However, that album was finally officially released in 2007.
I spent more time that week just hanging out at George’s hotel with most of the band, including Michael Hampton (who tried hard to get next to my girlfriend!) and Garry Shider. For years after every time I attended their shows I was able to go back stage and always received warm welcomes and embraces from GC and the rest of the Funk Mob. Just below is a backstage shot of George and I.
I have since moved across the country (within spitting distance of George’s Kannapolis, N.C., birthplace) and lost touch with those guys. But I will never lose touch with the funk, especially the Pure Funk, forever ingrained in my mind, booty and soul. I hope you enjoy the fruits of my dream encounter with my supreme funk overlord, Mr. George Clinton. Let me know what you think.
Read below or download in its entirety here: George Clinton Article.