Legendary Funk musician George Clinton is headed to The State Theatre in State College with his longtime backing band, Parliament Funkadelic.
Clinton has been an active musician for more than 60 years. His appearances in several movies and television shows have given him crossover appeal to a wide audience.
Clinton said he caught the music “bug” in the late ’50s when he heard Frankie Lymon, The Flamingos, The Spaniels and Elvis Presley.
“When I heard Frankie’s song on the radio, I knew I wanted to be like him,” Clinton said. “I used to skip school and go to the Apollo Theater and watch everybody perform all day-long. Then in 1960, Smokey Robinson and Motown came in, and I got hooked on that. ... I had the bug then, and I’ve still got it.”
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Funk is a fairly broad term used to describe a variety of music, but Clinton thinks the word carries greater definition than just describing a “sound.”
“Funk is anything it has to be to save your life,” he said. “Funk is able to evolve into whatever is new, whether it sounds futuristic or you go retro. Funk can be any of that.”
For Clinton, funk is a way of life.
“It’s like the groove of the music; you feel it the same way,” he said. “You do the best you can with it, and let it be like the force in ‘Star Wars.’ It’s going to lead you to where you need to be.”
Clinton has collaborated with a staggeringly large amount of musicians in his career, ranging from funk artists to rock bands to hip-hop groups. Notably, Clinton produced the Red Hot Chili Peppers record “Freaky Styley,” and also worked with Kendrick Lamar on his commercially successful and critically acclaimed album “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
“When Kendrick Lamar came out, my grandkids said, ‘Yeah, do that, Granddad. He’s like you,” he said, laughing. “I’m glad I did it, because I had the chance to meet some great people he worked with; it’s a whole new generation.”
The 1994 college comedy film “PCU” featured Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic in great prominence, exposing his music to a new generation. He recently did another movie, “Kuso” that he said is geared toward millenials.
“It’s going to be that outlandish type of movie, and ‘PCU’ was definitely that in the ’90s.”
Clinton has never been afraid to blaze his own path, even if that means giving people free access to his music. In an age when several artists have condemned fans for recording their shows, Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic are producing and posting their own live clips. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic shows are posted on Facebook, Periscope and YouTube.
“You know, what do I got to lose? I’m 76 years old,” he said, laughing. “I need to do what I can to get on the radio, so it’s a no-brainer. I know we do an interesting show, and people like to see it. People love the fact that we film it.”
The iconic musician believes that while the videos are great to help spread the word and allow people to enjoy the music, they are still a poor substitute for attending the show in person.
“They don’t want to miss this in life,” Clinton said. “You’ve heard someone say ‘you should have seen it’ — this is that kind of thing.”
IF YOU GO
- What: George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic
- When: 8 p.m. Friday
- Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
- Info: www.thestatetheatre .org