P-Funk mythology

P-Funk mythology

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The P-Funk mythology is a group of recurring fictional characters, themes and ideas related in a series of concept album
Concept album
In music, a concept album is an album that is "unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical." Commonly, concept albums tend to incorporate preconceived musical or lyrical ideas rather than being improvised or composed in the studio, with all songs contributing...

s and live shows, primarily from George Clinton
George Clinton (funk musician)
George Clinton is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and music producer and the principal architect of P-Funk. He was the mastermind of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic during the 1970s and early 1980s, and launched a solo career in 1981. He has been cited as one of the foremost...

 and his founded bands Parliament
Parliament (band)
Parliament was a funk band most prominent during the 1970s. It and its sister act Funkadelic, both led by George Clinton, began the funk music culture of that decade.-History:...

 and Funkadelic
Funkadelic
Funkadelic was an American band most prominent during the 1970s. The band and its sister act Parliament, both led by George Clinton, began the funk music culture of that decade.-History:...

.

Funkadelic and Parliament are, in effect, the same band, with both bands at one time employing their musicians from the same pool, namely James Brown
James Brown
James Joseph Brown was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist. He is the originator of Funk and is recognized as a major figure in the 20th century popular music for both his vocals and dancing. He has been referred to as "The Godfather of Soul," "Mr...

's backing bands (both the JBs, and the later Soul Gs). Musicians such as Bernie Worrell
Bernie Worrell
George Bernard "Bernie" Worrell, Jr. is an American keyboardist and composer best known as a founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic and for his work with Talking Heads. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic...

, Fred Wesley
Fred Wesley
Fred Wesley is an American jazz and funk trombonist, best known for his work with James Brown in the 1960s and 1970s.-Biography:...

 and Maceo Parker
Maceo Parker
Maceo Parker is an American funk and soul jazz saxophonist, best known for his work with James Brown in the 1960s, as well as Parliament-Funkadelic in the 1970s. Parker was a prominent soloist on many of Brown's hit recordings, and a key part of his band, playing alto, tenor and baritone saxophones...

 all at one time played with Parliament and/or Funkadelic. Due to contractual issues, where the names changed because of multiple switches in record labels, these two bands, along with George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars and Bootsy's Rubber Band are nowadays collectively known as P-Funk.

Parliament


On Mothership Connection
Mothership Connection
In 2003 the TV network VH1 named Mothership Connection the 55th greatest album of all time.In 2003, the album was ranked number 274 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time....

(1975), the first track, "P Funk", concerns a DJ
Disc jockey
A disc jockey, also known as DJ, is a person who selects and plays recorded music for an audience. Originally, "disc" referred to phonograph records, not the later Compact Discs. Today, the term includes all forms of music playback, no matter the medium.There are several types of disc jockeys...

 character, who inspired the Lollypop Man (alias the Long Haired Sucker). According to Clinton (who shares credit for the song with Bernie Worrell
Bernie Worrell
George Bernard "Bernie" Worrell, Jr. is an American keyboardist and composer best known as a founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic and for his work with Talking Heads. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1997 with fifteen other members of Parliament-Funkadelic...

 and Bootsy Collins
Bootsy Collins
William Earl "Bootsy" Collins is an American funk bassist, singer, and songwriter.Rising to prominence with James Brown in the late 1960s, and with Parliament-Funkadelic in the '70s, Collins's driving bass guitar and humorous vocals established him as one of the leading names in funk...

), he was frustrated that radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 stations refused to play his songs and invented his own station (called W-E-F-U-N-K) and a DJ to man it.

On Mothership Connection, Starchild first appeared (inspired equally by Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," musical compositions and performances. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama...

's "Black Noah" and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

); he is a divine alien being, who came to earth from a spaceship (his arrival is "the Mothership Connection") to bring the holy Funk (with a capital "F": the cause of creation and source of energy and all life), to humanity. As it turns out (according to The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein
The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein
The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein is an album by funk band Parliament, released in the summer of 1976. The album is notable for featuring horn arrangements by ex-James Brown band member, Fred Wesley. The album charted at #20 on the Billboard pop chart and became Parliament's second album to be...

, 1976), Starchild secretly worked for Dr. Funkenstein, the intergalactic master of outer space Funk, who is capable of fixing all of man’s ills, because the "bigger the headache, the bigger the pill" and he’s the "big pill" ("Dr. Funkenstein
Dr. Funkenstein
"Dr. Funkenstein" is a song by the funk band Parliament. It was the second single released from their 1976 album, The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, and reached number 46 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart. It features newcomer Renny Jones on bass, who also played on two other songs on the album...

", from The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein). Dr. Funkenstein’s predecessors had encoded the secrets of Funk in the Pyramids because humanity wasn’t ready for its existence until the modern era. The titular "clones" are the Children of Productions whose job is to ensure that everyone is on the One
Downbeat
Downbeat, down beat or Down Beat may refer to:*Downbeat, the first beat of a measure in music. This terms originated from orchestral conducting, where the lowest point on the baton signals the first downbeat in a given measure...

.

Starchild’s nemesis is Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk ("Sir Nose Devoid of Funk" from Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome
Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome
Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome is a funk album by Parliament, released in 1977 .The album is considered to be one of the best in Parliament's catalog...

, 1977). Inspired by the single "The Pinocchio Theory
The Pinocchio Theory
The Pinocchio Theory is a 1977 single by the American Funk band Bootsy's Rubber Band. It was released by Warner Bros. Records on February 9, 1977. The single first charted in Billboard magazine's Hot Soul Singles chart in March 1977 where it peaked at number six...

" by Bootsy's Rubber Band, Sir Nose attempts to end the Funk because he is too cool to dance
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

. He is the master of the Placebo Syndrome, which causes unFunkiness (a combination of stupidity and no dancing). His goal is to place the minds of all humanity into a state called the Zone of Zero Funkativity. Starchild, on the other hand, uses his Bop Gun ("Bop Gun (Endangered Species)
Bop Gun (Endangered Species)
"Bop Gun " is a song by the funk band Parliament, the lead track on their 1977 album Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome. It was released as the album's first single. The song's lead vocal is performed by Glen Goins, his last performance on a P-Funk record.The Bop Gun is an imaginary weapon that...

", from Funkentelechy Vs the Placebo Syndrome) to achieve "Funkentelechy" for all humanity. With the Funky powers of the Bop Gun (which are augmented by the Flash Light....Shine the light on them suckas!!!), Starchild causes Sir Nose to reach Funkentelechy, and find his Funky soul. He then dances away the night.

Sir Nose’s return (along with ally Rumpofsteelskin) is detailed on the Motor Booty Affair
Motor Booty Affair
Motor Booty Affair is an album by funk band Parliament. Released in late 1978, it contains two of the group's most popular tracks, "Rumpofsteelskin" and "Aqua Boogie " which went to number one on the Billboard Black Singles chart. The album title refers to the music coming out of "Motor town"...

(1978). Here, Sir Nose is too cool to dance or swim, but Mr. Wiggles and the good citizens of Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC....

(a place where one can swim underwater without getting wet) cause Sir Nose to dance the Aqua Boogie. At the end of Motor Booty Affair, and after Sir Nose's defeat, the citizens of Atlantis raise their home out of the sea on the song "Deep" ("We need to raise Atlantis from the bottom of the sea, dancing 'til we bring it to the top ...").

On Gloryhallastoopid
Gloryhallastoopid
Gloryhallastoopid is a 1979 album by the funk ensemble Parliament. It was their penultimate album on the Casablanca Records label, and is another concept album which tries to explain that Funk was responsible for the creation of the universe...

(1979), Clinton flips the script on "Theme From The Black Hole" (later sampled by Digital Underground
Digital Underground
Digital Underground was an alternative hip hop group from Oakland, California. It could have been considered a music "family" rather than a group, as its personnel changed and rotated with each album and tour....

 for "Same Song") and allows Sir Nose to win one battle by turning Starchild into a mule. While gloating over his victory, Sir Nose alludes to multiple songs from Funkentelechy and Clones, mockingly referencing the scat singing from "Sir Nose" ("humdrum, twiddly-dee-dum Starchild!"), and pointing out the fact that Starchild is temporarily without weapons or allies ("Where's your flashlight? Where's your bop gun? Where's the Doctor [Funkenstein], Starchild?"). Sir Nose’s machinations are undone three tracks later by the "Big Bang Theory", which reveals that the Funk caused the creation of the universe, though the only legible clue is the ethereal backing vocal line, "So we the clones were designed."

Sir Nose’s last appearance is on Trombipulation
Trombipulation
Trombipulation is a 1980 album by the funk band Parliament . It was released by Casablanca Records. It was the last album of original material produced by the group. Unlike previous Parliament albums, George Clinton did not serve as sole producer of the album, as other P-Funk figures assisted in...

(1979), where he traces his ancestry back to the Cro-Nasal Sapiens, who were especially Funky, leading Sir Nose to reclaim his Funky heritage, along with his son, Sir Nose Jr.

Funkadelic


Funkadelic albums are rather more ethereal and abstract when compared to Parliament’s. Rather than tell the story of a cast of characters, the mythology of Funkadelic is a socially conscious spiritualism.

The Funk is described on the very first song ("Mommy, What's a Funkadelic?") of the very first Funkadelic album (Funkadelic
Funkadelic (album)
Funkadelic was the debut album by the American funk band Funkadelic, released in 1970 on Westbound Records. The album showcased a strong bass and rhythm section, as well as lengthy jam sessions, future trademarks of the band...

, 1970), in the lines "By the way, my name is Funk/I am not of your world/Hold still, baby, I won't do you no harm. (...) I am funkadelic dedicated to the feeling of good.

On the second album, Free Your Mind... And Your Ass Will Follow (1971), Funk is said to lead to the Kingdom of heaven, which is described as being "within" (the titular song). "Funky Dollar Bill" (off the same album) describes multiple unFunky priorities, all revolving around materialism and consumerism, which have taken over all that is good and true in society (including, on "Eulogy and Light", religion).

One central concept is Maggot Brain (Maggot Brain
Maggot Brain
Maggot Brain is the third studio album by the American funk band Funkadelic, released in 1971 on Westbound Records. The album incorporates musical elements of psychedelia, rock, gospel, and soul music, with significant variation between each track. Pitchfork Media named it the seventeenth best...

, 1971), which is an unenlightened small-mindedness, and which must be overcome for humanity to avoid its destruction and decay. It is explicitly ascribed to the titular junkie in "Super Stupid," who has "lost the fight" with fear. Other songs on the album advocate universal love, peace, and brotherhood, and war is explicitly compared to insanity in "Back In Our Minds." The album ends on an apocalyptic note with "Wars of Armageddon," in which the sound of a crying baby can be taken as a direct reference to the speech at the beginning of the title track: "Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for y'all have knocked her up." With its noisy improvisation and activist chanting, the track appears to depict a final confrontation between good and evil.

One Nation Under a Groove
One Nation Under a Groove
In Europe, the Bonus-EP was replaced by a bonus 12" 45rpm mini-album containing the 3 EP tracks on one side and an extended version of "One Nation Under a Groove" on the other.-Personnel:Funkadelic Main Invasion Force :...

(Funkadelic, 1978) introduces Funkadelica, a nation wherein the Funk rules and can’t be either stopped or labeled. The people of Funkadelica are called Funkateers (as are P Funk fans) and are led by Uncle Jam. Their mission is to rescue dance music from the doldrums (unFunkiness).

The album The Electric Spanking of War Babies
The Electric Spanking of War Babies
The Electric Spanking of War Babies is the twelfth studio album by American funk band Funkadelic, released in 1981 on Warner Bros. Records. The title is an allusion to the Vietnam War and baby boomers...

(1981) refers to the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, as characterized by George Clinton.

P-Funk mythology in popular culture

  • Adult Swim's 2010 animated special "Freaknik: The Musical
    Freaknik: The Musical
    Freaknik: The Musical is a musical special produced by T-Pain. It features the voice of T-Pain as the Ghost of Freaknik, as well as the voices of entertainers such as Lil Wayne, Young Cash, Snoop Dogg, Sophia Fresh, and Rick Ross, and comedians such as Andy Samberg and Charlie Murphy who provide...

    " featured psychedelic aliens voiced by George Clinton and Bootsy Collins.

  • Playing on the storyline of Mothership Connection, an episode of The Mighty Boosh
    The Mighty Boosh
    The Mighty Boosh is a British comedy troupe featuring comedians Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding. Developed from three stage shows and a six episode radio series, it has since spawned a total of twenty television episodes for BBC Three and two live tours of the UK, as well as two live shows in the...

    , "The Legend of Old Gregg" (season 2, episode 5), depicts the Funk as a living, multi-breasted extraterrestrial entity accidentally tossed overboard by George Clinton. The episode further contains a sly reference to mythology with offerings of maggot-laced items at the local pub frequented by stodgy local fishermen. Near the episode's end, transformed by milk from the Funk, characters Howard Moon and Vince Noir perform a maritime parody of "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)
    Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)
    "Give Up the Funk " is a funk song by Parliament. It was released as a single under the name "Tear the Roof off the Sucker ". It was the second single to be released from Parliament's 1976 album Mothership Connection "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" is a funk song by Parliament. It...

    ".

  • Filmmaker Yvonne Smith created an animated segment for her documentary, Parliament-Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove
    Parliament-Funkadelic: One Nation Under A Groove
    Parliament-Funkadelic: One Nation Under A Groove is a documentary that aired on PBS in October 2005 as part of the Independent Lens series. The documentary chronicles the development of the Parliament-Funkadelic musical collective, led by producer, writer and arranger George Clinton...

    , featuring a P-Funk mythology-inspired character, "Afronaut." The character was voiced by comedian Eddie Griffin
    Eddie Griffin
    Edward James "Eddie" Griffin, Jr. is an American actor and comedian. He is best known for his sitcom, Malcolm & Eddie along with co-star, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and his role in the 2002 comedy film Undercover Brother as the film’s title character.-Early life:Griffin was born in Kansas City,...

    . The documentary first aired on PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

     in October 2005 as part of the Independent Lens
    Independent Lens
    Airing weekly on PBS through ITVS, the Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens introduces new drama and documentary films made by independent filmmakers. Past seasons of Independent Lens have been presented by hosts Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Susan Sarandon, Edie Falco, Terrence Howard, Maggie...

    series.

The many identities of Bootsy Collins


On Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band
Stretchin' Out in Bootsy's Rubber Band
The album was recorded around the same time as Parliament's Mothership Connection and Funkadelic's Let's Take It To The Stage at United Sound Systems in Detroit, Michigan. The album was produced by Collins and George Clinton...

(Bootsy's Rubber Band, 1976), Bootsy was Casper "not the Friendly Ghost, but the Holy Ghost", who educates children at the Psychoticbumpschool ("Psychoticbumpschool").

On Bootsy? Player of the Year
Bootsy? Player of the Year
Bootsy? Player of the Year is the third album by the American funk band Bootsy's Rubber Band.-Reception:The album was released on Warner Bros. Records on January 27, 1978. At the height of the album's popularity, it competed head to head with Bootsy Collins' mentor George Clinton and his band...

(Bootsy's Rubber Band, 1978) Bootsy is a rhinestone-bedecked doll of a rock star called Bootzilla ("Bootzilla
Bootzilla
"Bootzilla" is a song recorded by Bootsy's Rubber Band, released on January 13, 1978. As the lead single from the album Bootsy? Player of the Year it held the #1 spot on the R&B chart for one week in 1978...

") who is far superior to Barbie
Barbie
Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel, Inc. and launched in March 1959. American businesswoman Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration....

, on account of his ability to sing, dance and play.