George Clinton, We Want You Back

We need our funk icons to stay edgy. The old wino look is so not working for us.

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George Clinton has represented an unparalleled creative vision since he and Parliament Funkadelic initially electrified the music and culture scene back in the 1970s. Anyone who attended a Funkadelic concert back in the day knows that the costumes, the antics, the beats, the drama, the unbridled sexuality, made for a three-ring circus of musical intrigue that kept people on their feet and begging for more.

As the leader of an unruly pack, Clinton consistently bucked the status quo with his over-the-top appearance. Remember his locks, made out of colorful yarn? The huge, crazy glasses? The space suits? Well, those days are over.

In concert this summer, Clinton sauntered onstage at Wingate Field in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, for the launch of the 28th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series, amid the constant flow of characters that have come to define the Funkadelic show -- and actually had to introduce himself. ''Yes, this is me,'' he said, before he commenced to jamming. It was a head-scratching moment. George Clinton, he of the neon-colored extensions, was sporting a sweaty, black do-rag, an oversized white shirt and khakis. (Only the slightly bedazzled tee peeking out from underneath hinted at the George we all know.)

At least the concert was as dynamic as always. But if he had been transported to a corner on Bed-Stuy, he could easily have been mistaken for an old boozer. Really.

(We're still trying to get over the fact that he brought his granddaughter onstage for a rapping cameo. Never mind that she was rapping in his face about how she likes her men hard. Has the creator of P-Funk really turned into Granddad?)

George Clinton is an icon. It doesn't matter how hot it is outside or how advanced in years our icons become. We need them -- we need him -- to stay edgy. Otherwise, what does that say about us? Come on, George, we need your mojo back!

--Harriette Cole