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The long-awaited memoir from one of the greatest bandleaders, hit makers, and most influential pop artists of our time—known for over forty R&B hit singles—George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic. George Clinton began his musical career in New Jersey, where his obsession with doo-wop and R&B led to a barbershop quartet—literally, as Clinton and his friends also styled hair The long-awaited memoir from one of the greatest bandleaders, hit makers, and most influential pop artists of our time—known for over forty R&B hit singles—George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic. George Clinton began his musical career in New Jersey, where his obsession with doo-wop and R&B led to a barbershop quartet—literally, as Clinton and his friends also styled hair in the local shop—the way kids often got their musical start in the ’50s. But how many kids like that ended up playing to tens of thousands of rabid fans alongside a diaper-clad guitarist? How many of them commissioned a spaceship and landed it onstage during concerts? How many put their stamp on four decades of pop music, from the mind-expanding sixties to the hip-hop-dominated nineties and beyond? One of them. That’s how many. How George Clinton got from barbershop quartet to funk music megastar is a story for the ages. As a high school student he traveled to New York City, where he absorbed all the trends in pop music, from traditional rhythm and blues to Motown, the Beatles, the Stones, and psychedelic rock, not to mention the formative funk of James Brown and Sly Stone. By the dawn of the seventies, he had emerged as the leader of a wildly creative musical movement composed mainly of two bands—Parliament and Funkadelic. And by the bicentennial, Clinton and his P-Funk empire were dominating the soul charts as well as the pop charts. He was an artistic visionary, visual icon, merry prankster, absurdist philosopher, and savvy businessmen, all rolled into one. He was like no one else in pop music, before or since. Written with wit, humor, and candor, this memoir provides tremendous insight into America’s music industry as forever changed by Clinton’s massive talent. This is a story of a beloved global icon who dedicated himself to spreading the gospel of funk music.


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The long-awaited memoir from one of the greatest bandleaders, hit makers, and most influential pop artists of our time—known for over forty R&B hit singles—George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic. George Clinton began his musical career in New Jersey, where his obsession with doo-wop and R&B led to a barbershop quartet—literally, as Clinton and his friends also styled hair The long-awaited memoir from one of the greatest bandleaders, hit makers, and most influential pop artists of our time—known for over forty R&B hit singles—George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic. George Clinton began his musical career in New Jersey, where his obsession with doo-wop and R&B led to a barbershop quartet—literally, as Clinton and his friends also styled hair in the local shop—the way kids often got their musical start in the ’50s. But how many kids like that ended up playing to tens of thousands of rabid fans alongside a diaper-clad guitarist? How many of them commissioned a spaceship and landed it onstage during concerts? How many put their stamp on four decades of pop music, from the mind-expanding sixties to the hip-hop-dominated nineties and beyond? One of them. That’s how many. How George Clinton got from barbershop quartet to funk music megastar is a story for the ages. As a high school student he traveled to New York City, where he absorbed all the trends in pop music, from traditional rhythm and blues to Motown, the Beatles, the Stones, and psychedelic rock, not to mention the formative funk of James Brown and Sly Stone. By the dawn of the seventies, he had emerged as the leader of a wildly creative musical movement composed mainly of two bands—Parliament and Funkadelic. And by the bicentennial, Clinton and his P-Funk empire were dominating the soul charts as well as the pop charts. He was an artistic visionary, visual icon, merry prankster, absurdist philosopher, and savvy businessmen, all rolled into one. He was like no one else in pop music, before or since. Written with wit, humor, and candor, this memoir provides tremendous insight into America’s music industry as forever changed by Clinton’s massive talent. This is a story of a beloved global icon who dedicated himself to spreading the gospel of funk music.

30 review for Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    A completely fascinating read, and highly recommended for any P-Funk enthusiast; nevertheless, I have a few reservations about it. If you're a reader of musician bios in the as-told-to genre, you know how these things work: if the collaborator is good, they capture the musician's voice and give you the feel of hanging out with them for a few hours while they tell their life story. Clinton's collaborator Ben Greenman is more than adequate to this task and the book is very well-written, including A completely fascinating read, and highly recommended for any P-Funk enthusiast; nevertheless, I have a few reservations about it. If you're a reader of musician bios in the as-told-to genre, you know how these things work: if the collaborator is good, they capture the musician's voice and give you the feel of hanging out with them for a few hours while they tell their life story. Clinton's collaborator Ben Greenman is more than adequate to this task and the book is very well-written, including a good index (essential for books of this kind) a pretty decent discography, and a sampleography. But the flip side of this type of musician bio is that you only get one side of the story and one perspective on events. For a topic as vast as P-Funk, I felt myself wishing to hear other voices and perspectives. As expected, Bootsy gets a fair amount of coverage, as does Bernie Worrell, but George never really tells us why they left the group. There are more pages devoted to Sly Stone than to almost anyone else in Clinton's orbit and fascinating though George's take on Sly's story is, I wish I'd come away knowing more about say, Garry Shider, Michael Hampton or Cordell Mosson (to name but a few of the personalities who are dealt with only perfunctorily). Eddie Hazel and Billy Bass get some attention, but I didn't really get much of a sense of them beyond some intriguing anecdotes. Fuzzy Haskins, who seemed almost like a co-leader in the early days and who recorded two pretty cool "in all but name" P-Funk records on his own, though mentioned, seems to have been largely silenced and Ray Davis, who stayed with the group even after the other original Parliaments jumped ship and whose ultra-low vocal stylings were a defining feature of the band's sound across its different eras, is hardly mentioned at all. The topic that seems to get the most attention concerns the various legal woes caused by the sleazy and underhanded tactics of former managers and business partners Armen Boladian (from Westbound Records) and Nene Montes. Interesting and important though this material is, I found my eyes glazing over a bit during some of it. I will mention that Clinton's ideas about an appropriate payment structure for the use of samples seem far more sensible than actual industry practice, but this set of topics could have almost been a whole separate book and as it stands, this material threatens to weigh down this one. That said, there really is much to love here. Clinton's discussion of the musicians and performers who inspired him and P-Funk is wonderful (he is apparently a total Beatles fanboy for example, and he truly shines when talking about his admiration for Sly Stone), as is hearing him talking about those younger musicians and performers (especially Prince) who were in turn inspired by P-Funk, some of whom also became collaborators. My frustration at the amount of attention Sly Stone gets at the expense of others is more than offset by the fascinating portrait of the man that Clinton paints. As with the story of his legal woes and discussions about sampling, I almost feel like he could have written a whole other book just about Sly! Clinton also seems to be pleasantly lacking in genuine rancor, even with regard to some of his nemeses. So to summarize, this is not the definitive book on P-Funk that I might have wanted, but it is nevertheless entertaining and readable.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Essential P-Funk reading and largely delightful. George Clinton is at least three kinds of genius, and one or two types of crazy. But he's vastly likeable, and his uniquely amiable personality is captured well here. He covers his entire musical career as much as it's feasible to do so. It's decades long and unfathomably productive. He professes to have performed or produced at least 40 albums in the '70s alone (!). The last third becomes more sad. He's painfully honest about the drug issues and Essential P-Funk reading and largely delightful. George Clinton is at least three kinds of genius, and one or two types of crazy. But he's vastly likeable, and his uniquely amiable personality is captured well here. He covers his entire musical career as much as it's feasible to do so. It's decades long and unfathomably productive. He professes to have performed or produced at least 40 albums in the '70s alone (!). The last third becomes more sad. He's painfully honest about the drug issues and legal entanglements that drastically curbed his output. Through naïveté and drug-hindered decision-making, multiple record companies and band managers take advantage of him and he spends ages in court fighting to regain control over his back catalog.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Demetria

    First off, if there is an award for "Best Book Title of the Year," this should get it. Love, love, love the title. The book starts off kinda strong with a nice, warm narrative about Clinton's birth (in an outhouse) and how when he moved to New Jersey, he thought his daddy owned everything because of all the streets and such named Clinton. Cute. There are a few other colorful stories about life in the barbershop and things of that nature. But then, the book repeatedly dips into "Numbers" (Bible r First off, if there is an award for "Best Book Title of the Year," this should get it. Love, love, love the title. The book starts off kinda strong with a nice, warm narrative about Clinton's birth (in an outhouse) and how when he moved to New Jersey, he thought his daddy owned everything because of all the streets and such named Clinton. Cute. There are a few other colorful stories about life in the barbershop and things of that nature. But then, the book repeatedly dips into "Numbers" (Bible reference) territory. It's a bunch of information about how such-and-such person made such-and-such song in 1950/60-whatever or was the A&R or head honcho at blah blah blah Records. I understand wanting to document names and positions and such and give them a firm place and space in time, but there has to be a better way to do that. It got straight boring at times (hence the three stars) and that should not happen in a George Clinton memoir. The last quarter of the book really picked up though. I learned A LOT about Parliament and Funkadelic and it gave me a whole new level of respect for their creativity. I was born and raised in Detroit, so of course I grew up on funk and soul. So many P-Funk jams serve as the soundtrack to my childhood. I always associated their work with that whole "party and bulltsh*t" kind of attitude. But this memoir added so much more to that story and I learned a lot about the layers there. The titles of the albums, the themes and the album artwork were so well thought out and purposeful. I did not know that as a kid. I know that now. I have tremendous respect for Mr. Clinton. He's incredible. Fun Fact: George Clinton co-wrote the theme song for the 1980s movie "Howard the Duck." This book is also a testament to the resilience of the human body. Mr. Clinton spent decades abusing hard drugs and he's only a few years clean, but he's so sharp and clear now. I had the pleasure of seeing him in person (Got my book signed. Heeeeey!) here in Harlem at the Schomburg where he was interviewed by Questlove and his co-author. I hadn't read the book yet at that point, so I was hearing him tell his life stories for the first time. That might have spoiled me. He's a great storyteller. Almost all of the tales he told on stage are in the book and he did such a good job with that. He was animated and passionate and really into it. That animation and passion did not translate well to the book. I don't know if that was a disconnect between him and his co-author or what, but I think it would have been nice to use more of his language and enthusiasm to tell his story. All of that said, it's still a good book and well worth the read even if you have to drudge through some molasses to get to the good stuff.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Buhs

    Better than it had any right to be. Maybe. Clinton's biography had been advertised for a while, under different titles. The published version eventually came from a track off Funkadelic's comeback album. (Supposedly, there's a Parliament comeback in the works, too.) And it's intent is clearly to settle some legal scores and get Clinton payment for and access to music he created forty years ago. All of that would seem suggest that the book wouldn't be very good. But the first 250 pages or so are f Better than it had any right to be. Maybe. Clinton's biography had been advertised for a while, under different titles. The published version eventually came from a track off Funkadelic's comeback album. (Supposedly, there's a Parliament comeback in the works, too.) And it's intent is clearly to settle some legal scores and get Clinton payment for and access to music he created forty years ago. All of that would seem suggest that the book wouldn't be very good. But the first 250 pages or so are fascinating. The bulk of that part of the book covers Clinton's childhood, entrance into the musical industry, learning the ropes, and becoming the force behind Parliament, Funkadelic, and a number of off-shoot bands. The story touches on some of his personal issues--his romantic entanglements, personality conflicts, drugs--but focuses mostly on the music. Clinton doesn't really play an instrument, ad he has no formal training in music. He's a lyricist and producer, and the book sounds like something from a producer. Clinton here is constantly thinking in terms of music and musical acts--everything is compared to some other musician. It's the substance of his thought. One gets an excellent insight into what Clinton was thinking as he created his profoundly influential bands. Grown up admiring Motown and hoping to break through their--he failed because his band had too much humanity, a foible which would become a selling point for P-Funk--Clinton was influenced by British blues, especially Eric Clapton and the Beatles, and American folk, especially Bob Dylan, wanting to expand the Motown sound and allow it to find a groove. He was also influenced by LSD, which seems to have been his everyday accompaniment through the late 1960s and much of the 1970s. He wanted to make funk music, as created by James Brown and Sly Stone--Clinton seems to have something of a grudge against Brown, not explored here--more psychedelic. Hence, Funkadelic. It's the second band everyone thinks of in relation to Clinton, but seems to have been the one he really loved. Parliament was an off-shoot, exploring some of the same musical ideas, but returning the songs to a (more) conventional R&B structure. For the bulk of the book, it seems as though Clinton and his ghostwriter Ben Greenman went through a vast trove of records and memorabilia,jogging Clinton's memory and getting him to tell stories. Greenman does an excellent job of keeping the story organized and focused. (All too many musical autobiographies are so loosely structured as to be stream-of-consciousness.) The story of the 1980s are not so interesting--Clinton by then was a slave to crack. The 1990s regain some of the same vitality of the story from the '90s, as Clinton merges with the hip-hop community. Clearly, though, crack remained an albatross well into the 2000s. But with Clinton, there's always a question. He's a trickster, Clinton is, as he admits. The book starts with lots of "if you can believe it"s, which is the sure sign one is in the presence of a con artist, even if an entertaining one, in the tradition of P.T. Barnum. Greenman does a good job of hinting at Clinton's voice, but it's never fully there. The scatology which is one of Clinton's trademarks is mostly sidelined. Whose choice was that? It makes the book more readable, though less funny than it could be. One also begins to wonder about Clinton's memory, especially given the amount of drugs he's been on. How many of the stories he tells are remembered, how many recreated? And how many of the stories are told to make his whole life seem to make more sense than it actually did. Everything here unfolds so perfectly logically. Is this true, or is Clinton putting a thumb on the scale as he makes a case for his legal actions? What is left out? (I noticed there's no discussion of Sun Ra or Ishmael Reed. Clinton attributes his ideas to science fiction and Erich von Daniken.) The book seems god--but it raises so many questions. Three men, more than any other, are responsible for the vast majority of the music played on radios today: James Brown, Sly Stone, and George Clinton, the impressario behind Parliament and Funkadelic. Yet they don't get 1/10th the recognition of a niche musician like Eric Clapton. (Which is not a shot at Clapton: he's great at what he does; it's just narrow.) Even with this autobiography, though, there is much more to be said about the three men, their networks, and funk music in general. The best book on funk remains Ricky Vincent's fan history. I look forward to more investigation of this vital musical form.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Phil Overeem

    As amazing a tale as you would imagine--though a little more conventionally told than you'd hope. Also, I was craving more insights into the sessions. However, this is one of the smartest men ever to make music on our turf, with a line tied directly from his capacious mind to his fonky behind. Promise me, though, that you will track this down and read it, too--then you will be truly on top of the tale: http://www.amazon.com/George-Clinton-... As amazing a tale as you would imagine--though a little more conventionally told than you'd hope. Also, I was craving more insights into the sessions. However, this is one of the smartest men ever to make music on our turf, with a line tied directly from his capacious mind to his fonky behind. Promise me, though, that you will track this down and read it, too--then you will be truly on top of the tale: http://www.amazon.com/George-Clinton-...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jere Pilapil

    This is a good read, at least at first. It's a lot of fun to hear about the genesis of P-Funk and the prime days for their music. Unfortunately, once Clinton's fortunes decline, it becomes equally (and then more) about the ins and outs of his legal issues. Even his surprisingly easy way out of crack addiction is given sorry shrift in the later chapters.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shayla

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I like this book, I do. But I’m not going to lie, I went into this book expecting something totally different. I thought this book was going to mainly be about his personal life. The title, “Brothas Be Like, Yo George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You” makes it seems like this book will be personal. I mean, there are moments where he goes into his personal life, his drug use, and a small glimpse into his relationships. ‘Brothas Be Like...’ is about the good, bad, and ugly in George’s Parliam I like this book, I do. But I’m not going to lie, I went into this book expecting something totally different. I thought this book was going to mainly be about his personal life. The title, “Brothas Be Like, Yo George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You” makes it seems like this book will be personal. I mean, there are moments where he goes into his personal life, his drug use, and a small glimpse into his relationships. ‘Brothas Be Like...’ is about the good, bad, and ugly in George’s Parliament-Funkadelic life. This book is mainly about the things he was thinking about when it came to recording certain songs and albums. Each album has a story and a theme. It was interesting to learn how he recorded each album and why. Prior to reading this book, I never knew what any of P-Funk’s songs were about. A vast majority of their tracks were inspired by conspiracy theories and science fiction books. My favorite part of this book is when he mentions his friendship with Sly Stone. I fell out in laughter when I read the story about how George, David Ruffin, and Sly Stone went to get drugs together. My least favorite thing about this book is that there are moments that the book gets boring. Sometimes, I’d find myself wanting to do something else instead of finishing it. Although, the good parts in this book are so good, you’ll definitely want to keep reading it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kamy

    For a hardcore fan this book delivers. You get great stories behind the albums, the musicians, the producers, the backstage shenanigans, the tours, the mothership, and all the rest of it. George's cosmic wisdom comes across as authentic, earnest, and profound. George Clinton is surely one of America's greatest musical innovators. He took Motown, James Brown, psychedelic rock, and his own thang to create a distinct, ageless, healing, powerful sound in his music. I'm a huge George Clinton fan. Hug For a hardcore fan this book delivers. You get great stories behind the albums, the musicians, the producers, the backstage shenanigans, the tours, the mothership, and all the rest of it. George's cosmic wisdom comes across as authentic, earnest, and profound. George Clinton is surely one of America's greatest musical innovators. He took Motown, James Brown, psychedelic rock, and his own thang to create a distinct, ageless, healing, powerful sound in his music. I'm a huge George Clinton fan. Huge. I've seen P-Funk in concert at least 10 times, own about 100 albums (some rare, some bootleg), and own some rare video footage, too. Despite my love of PFunk, I can't give the book more than 3 stars because it does get too technical with the legal status of their recordings at so many points. George was clear about his intentions. This book is a guide for the musician's families on how they may be able to claw back some of the royalties they are owed from charlatan producers and record labels. It is a great guide for them. But that part of the narrative is not that interesting or relevant for readers. If you're a fan, read it. If you're not, skim it. Either way, the story of PFunk is incredible and important.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    I loved this book. There is a lot of great wisdom written in these pages and I think most young people feeling any motivation to make art in any form would be well-advised to read these words of the Great George Clinton. The thing that I find interesting about Mr. Clinton's story is that his real impact on popular music was through his relationships with people. I thought it was interesting how Clinton had to balance promoting a wide variety of artists while also working as a musician himself. H I loved this book. There is a lot of great wisdom written in these pages and I think most young people feeling any motivation to make art in any form would be well-advised to read these words of the Great George Clinton. The thing that I find interesting about Mr. Clinton's story is that his real impact on popular music was through his relationships with people. I thought it was interesting how Clinton had to balance promoting a wide variety of artists while also working as a musician himself. He is also very frank about his drug use and sexual promiscuity. That said, he didn't seem to mention this stuff with an air of braggodaccio or anything, everything is so matter-of-fact. Clinton is now in his late 70s and it's just incredible that this guy is doing what he does after all these years.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steven Jones

    Like a lot of memoirs by musicians, this book had both good parts and insights as to the process behind the scenes of some recordings, yet also rambled and felt slightly incoherent at times. One of the more enlightening things you will learn about George Clinton from this book is about his feelings about politics in music and his role in the change in music. Also, maybe due to his use of drugs and especially crack, it seems like a lot of detail is missing in a lot of areas. He bounces from discu Like a lot of memoirs by musicians, this book had both good parts and insights as to the process behind the scenes of some recordings, yet also rambled and felt slightly incoherent at times. One of the more enlightening things you will learn about George Clinton from this book is about his feelings about politics in music and his role in the change in music. Also, maybe due to his use of drugs and especially crack, it seems like a lot of detail is missing in a lot of areas. He bounces from discussion to discussion about recording sessions and attempts to make music but it's one sided and runs together at some point for the last few chapters. He also doesn't detail many of his run ins with the law and his feelings around those things which leaves me feeling like there could have been a slightly deeper dive into his life which would have made the book better.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Perry Ryan

    This was extremely entertaining, although it doesn't really end very satisfyingly. Either way, worth reading. George Clinton is hilarious and has a great writing style. I was familiar with some P-Funk music before reading this, but delving further, it's all realllllly good. I think George is a creative genius, a true original, an extremely singular figure, the type that comes along very rarely. Also, if you want to read about LSD-induced hemorrhoids, this is the place to do that.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    If I were a more informed fan, some parts of this would have been gold to me. Album by album and even song by song breakdowns of influences and inspirations were a bit much for me, though. Still, much of it is compelling and engaging, even if he turns into a bit of a Lenny Bruce with his legal troubles at the end.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jan Takehara

    Clinton is a wonderful storyteller, by turns colloquial and philosophical. He has done almost everything and known almost everybody in music since the 50s, making this book a group portrait of the man, his bands and his times.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Philip Marshall

    Parliament Funkadelic was one of the greatest bands...period. But a lot of their history had remained untold. Yet we know everything about the Beatles and Stones. So this book is a welcome addition to the tale of American music.

  15. 5 out of 5

    The Effervescent Essence of Marshall Herff Applewhite

    This is a 6/5. A definite MUST READ. The ending about how the Mothership was duped by shady lawyers was pretty depressing... that's how the story goes though. Very goodread, goodread.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ben Shakey

    Likable guy but a little too much focus on legal dealings and crack use.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter Karlin

    Must read for fans. Tons of fun.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Davethorson

    George Clinton's sometimes rambling, sometimes incisive, occasionally incoherent autobiography is well worth reading if you are a fan of his music. Surprisingly, there are very few personal anecdotes about his life, loves, marriages, children, grandchildren (!), and any musical personalities beyond those with whom he worked in either a business (Armen Boladian of Westbound Records) or creatively (Bootsy Collins or Sly Stone). But with those caveats in place, this is a very insightful autobio wort George Clinton's sometimes rambling, sometimes incisive, occasionally incoherent autobiography is well worth reading if you are a fan of his music. Surprisingly, there are very few personal anecdotes about his life, loves, marriages, children, grandchildren (!), and any musical personalities beyond those with whom he worked in either a business (Armen Boladian of Westbound Records) or creatively (Bootsy Collins or Sly Stone). But with those caveats in place, this is a very insightful autobio worth reading for Clinton's views on music in general and his music in particular. What seem to be offhand references such as the album title "Dope Dogs" become deeper and more meaningful when you realize Clinton is commenting on dogs that are used to sniff out drugs in airports or elsewhere, and you end up being addicted to drugs and put out to pasture when they're too old to be serviceable anymore. When his musical inspirations are discussed, such as the expected (Hendrix) as well as the unexpected (Broadway musicals), he seems to tie things together logically and in a very interesting way. Ultimately, he makes a case for why his music matters without seeming to care if we feel that it does one way or the other. When the narrative gets away from the music and meanders through what seems to be his endless use of drugs (crack cocaine especially), the story gets a little bleak and depressing. Even "bad trips" from nasty street cocaine or other drugs are dealt with almost casually, but it's clear Clinton isn't here to preach against drugs. When he does eventually become "clean," he doesn't seek the proverbial pat on the back but instead emphasizes that finally he could get his hands around his legal problems and try to unwind the many lawsuits over his music masters and ownership of his songs. Clinton writes most about his relationship with Sly (of the Family) Stone, and seems to capture this difficult enigma more than anyone else has done. Creatively and musically, Stone was and is obviously a genius, but a difficult one. By comparisons, Clinton seems to be almost shy about his fame and modest about his own genius. Clinton also writes quite expansively about working with Prince on the two separate solo albums that the Purple One produced. Not surprisingly, Clinton also writes a lot about the evolution of Bootsy Collins from James Brown's former sideman into his own "Bootzilla/Funkateer" character. Many of the early, best remembered Parliament and Funkadelic songs such as "Maggot Brain," "Cosmic Slop" (both Funkadelic) and "The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein," "Tear the Roof Off," and "Flashlight" (all Parliament) are written about in great detail. The famous Parliament "Earth Tour" show with the space ship is described in great detail as well. Clinton's takes on his music and relationships with others in his musical family are fascinating. While the chapters detailing the various legal entanglements can get tedious, Clinton wisely puts a declarative statement submitted for the record in one of the proceedings as an appendix, and only quotes from it sparingly. This allows the reader to read more or less about the real impetus behind the various legal fights, as the reader wishes. All in all, a fascinating account of the man and his music. Don't read it if you're expecting a "tell all." Read it if you want a glimpse into the mind of a complicated, difficult, musical genius without whom us true fans would have missed a lot of great, fascinating musical journeys and trips. Finally, read it, if, like me you consider yourself lacking musical talent or genius and can only pause and wonder what makes someone like Clinton truly tick.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    For a long time I've wanted George Clinton to write his memoir. Every time I read or heard an interview with Clinton I would wonder why a publisher hadn't approached him to write his story. Thank you Atria Books for making it finally happen. This book took me a little longer to read than usual because every time Clinton shared a story about writing on of the songs for the Parliament or the Funkadelic I would want to stop reading, listen to it and see if I could notice the different aspects of th For a long time I've wanted George Clinton to write his memoir. Every time I read or heard an interview with Clinton I would wonder why a publisher hadn't approached him to write his story. Thank you Atria Books for making it finally happen. This book took me a little longer to read than usual because every time Clinton shared a story about writing on of the songs for the Parliament or the Funkadelic I would want to stop reading, listen to it and see if I could notice the different aspects of the song that Clinton was pointing out. I was introduced to George Clinton Parliament-Funkadelic through my father's record collection. I never really understood what the differences between the two bands and Clinton does a good job of describing what he with the two bands. Parliament was the band that he could use to perform doo-wop with while the Funkadelic was the band for his funk music. I've always heard that James Brown was the hardest working man in show business but from reading Clinton's account it sounds like he could give Brown a run for this title. He would be working on a Parliament album, a Funkadelic album and Bootsy Collins album or some other artist for his record label all while writing music for upcoming albums. It was interesting to read about Clinton's relationship with fellow artist Sly Stone and how they supported each other's drug habit while also influencing each other musically. Clinton also as an interesting take on rap music and being easily the most sampled artist by rap artists. The great thing about this memoir was is that Clinton focuses primarily on his life in music. There is very little time spent discussing his family life short of how his relationships are with his children and grandchildren. If the children are involved with music, as a couple are, he discusses how they work together but other wise his private life is left alone. Clinton shares information on copyright issues he has had on much of his music. At one point he says that he got off the addiction to crack and became addicted to figuring out his copyright problems and getting his music back. He says that he is getting close to filing a claim and going to court. I was kind of amazed that when he is looking to go to court that his lawyers would allow him to write so freely about potential information that could be used in his favor. He also includes the whole deposition that he and his lawyers did with a woman involved in one of the lawsuits. This book is an enjoyable read of Clinton's life from the barbershop to a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member. Clinton does not seem to pull many punches when it comes to his professional career. He discusses his drug use, song writing, musical influences and how he feels about the artists that he as influenced himself. It was a long time waiting for this memoir but well worth it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Isaac

    At 15 years old, I picked up a copy of Funkadelic's genre-busting, psych-funk-rock masterpiece Maggot Brain (based on hearing the title track alone, and the cover of course). I was immediately hooked. Eddie Hazel replaced Jimi Hendrix as my guitar hero. Over the next ten years (and still today) I always revisited the record, no matter what phase of of music I was obsessing over (punk, hardcore, folk, classic country/bluegrass, jazz, etc.), I always came back to "Maggot Brain" (and subsequently n At 15 years old, I picked up a copy of Funkadelic's genre-busting, psych-funk-rock masterpiece Maggot Brain (based on hearing the title track alone, and the cover of course). I was immediately hooked. Eddie Hazel replaced Jimi Hendrix as my guitar hero. Over the next ten years (and still today) I always revisited the record, no matter what phase of of music I was obsessing over (punk, hardcore, folk, classic country/bluegrass, jazz, etc.), I always came back to "Maggot Brain" (and subsequently nearly everything else under the p-funk freak flag). This is why, nearly 30 years later, I was so excited to learn about this book and the prospect of learning some the details of Dr. Funkenstein’s life. I was not dissapointed. Clinton and Brooklyn writer Ben Greenman have created a personal look inside Clinton’s life in the music industry, spanning more than 50 years now. The book does a fine job of chronicling Clinton's musical journey, from his early days in 1950's New Jersey (where he formed his barber shop quartet, inspired by Frankie Lymon) and the early incarnation of Parliament - The Parliments, his doo woop, streetcorner group. The Parliaments (which led Clinton into a brief songwriting gig). In the 60's, George began reflecting psychedelic rock and absorbing plenty of LSD as The Parliaments morphed into Funkadelic. From then on there was no stopping Clinton. Funkadelic fused the influences of Jimi Hendrix and Sly & The Family Stone with an otherworldly carnival stage show. Funkadelic became one of the wildest, most outrageous, and subsequently one of the first post-Hendrix black-rock groups of the time. Clinton had lost the rights to the name The Parliaments at the time and Funkadelic became his main focus. Funkadelic was mainly an underground act in the early 1970s. Mainstream success had eluded Clinton until he had gotten the rights back to the name The Parliaments and signed with Casablanca and George changed the name to Parliament. Soon Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider, and every artist in George’s funky collective, both Parliament and Funkadelic took the ‘70s for a wild ride. Forever changing black music. Clinton was the first artist to present funk as both an attitude and a lifestyle. Every page of this book represents that. From the mothership landing onstage in front of thousands of P-Funk fans to terrible drug abuse tales, the lawsuits and criminals. The odds always seem against Clinton and his ever-growing group of vagabond musicians but he has never stopped looking to the future and has never given up hope. Clinton has never been one to get hung up on nostalgia so as a result, the book kept my attention from cover to cover. One of my favorite rock biographies since Patti Smith's "Just Kids".

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andre

    I wanted the bomb, but I got the firecracker. For someone that has been around as long as George Clinton has, one should rightfully expect some inside of the inside stories of his musical journey. He does have a few, but not nearly what one would expect. There is very little in the way of family tales that would provide the reader insight to George's motivations and inclinations. We do get a lot about album information, in fact the memoir reads like a discography review. George takes us through I wanted the bomb, but I got the firecracker. For someone that has been around as long as George Clinton has, one should rightfully expect some inside of the inside stories of his musical journey. He does have a few, but not nearly what one would expect. There is very little in the way of family tales that would provide the reader insight to George's motivations and inclinations. We do get a lot about album information, in fact the memoir reads like a discography review. George takes us through damn near every album released by Parliament-Funkadelic. He adds commentary to each release, giving his thoughts about the writing process and what his thinking was concerning certain songs and provides sensibility to the concepts he was attempting to develop while trying to create a distinctive and discerning difference between the Parliament and Funkadelic sound. I grew up a big fan of P-funk, and eagerly awaited each new release. We would argue over deeper meanings in the lyrics, and I would always take the position, that George was just being silly and wasn't trying to be deep. He confirmed this in his memoir and said he intentionally avoided the politics of the day, and was focused on entertaining the masses. That perspective may disappoint some fans, but his objective as an artist was not one of activism, and that is ultimately a decision each artist has to make. He wanted bodies to move to the funk and he certainly succeeded in doing that. He is a very prolific writer and performer. In fact you will learn he had a hand in writing more songs than most fans would ever believe. As with any memoir by a musician there are the requisite mentions of sex, drugs and rock and roll. At one point George mentions that although he used drugs for years, including years of crack smoking, he wasn't a go to the edge kind of user. I would say that by making it to 73, there has to be a little truth in that. Most entertainers doing 30 plus years of drugs are no longer with us. The reader will no doubt enjoy the interior look at song and album construction, the mentions of who George admired and respected contemporaneously, the tour tales, etc. The legal battles around copyright and royalties kind of drag down the last quarter of the book, and in George's case he was blatantly ripped off. It was a book that left you longing for what was between the lines. For such a wordsmith like George, which I'm sure was the original attraction for many of his fans, there is much left out that ultimately would have made this memoir truly uncut and the BOMB!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anders

    A fascinating life story is told in a down to earth style, from the beginnings in Plainfield, NJ, the hula hoop factory in NJ, barber shop, hair cuts, doo-wop, song writing for the Brill building, on to P-Funk. Just like so many lyrics and themes in the songs, this book is full of puns and double meaning phrases = fun to read/sympathetic. He gives a lot of cred to many people he worked with or admired over the years; The Beatles, Eddie Hazel, Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider, Maceo Parker, Prince... A fascinating life story is told in a down to earth style, from the beginnings in Plainfield, NJ, the hula hoop factory in NJ, barber shop, hair cuts, doo-wop, song writing for the Brill building, on to P-Funk. Just like so many lyrics and themes in the songs, this book is full of puns and double meaning phrases = fun to read/sympathetic. He gives a lot of cred to many people he worked with or admired over the years; The Beatles, Eddie Hazel, Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider, Maceo Parker, Prince.... What surprised me is how he talks about the development of the music. Always keeping an ear and eye out for what was in the limelight last season and today, setting the stage for tomorrow. Allowing that barometer of the time period to influence his next record, his next move, and touring. Some artists would call this business savviness selling out and compromising one's vision and integrity, but the way he tells the story I feel persuaded by his way of dealing with art, creativity and commercial potential. He was conscious of who P-Funk's music could reach, and be for, letting the funk spread. He claims they were aiming for a music/message not strictly black or white enough in order to appeal to more folks on purpose. Towards the center of the book he goes into how in the mid 70's P-Funk, Bootsy Collins and the Rubberband and others were in fact like a sort of movement or group of bands/companies that by employing strategy, timing, with luck and some gangster tactics got to dominate the pop, r&b and funk? charts of the day simultaneously! = Big! A sense of responsibility to his fans and pride of his work permeates the pages. His built up world of the Mothership, cartoon characters, Cream, soul music, Warner Bros, politics, drugs - mary jane, coke, crack, women, family, wordplay, cover art is engaging to read about. He is also going into the business side of things and obviously he has succeeded. But the last chapters of the book deal with a dirty side of the music business: him being ripped off by Armen Boladian. He tears him a new asshole in a controlled tone of text. The lack of fair copyright laws around the early days of sampling led to neglected compensation, and George has been fighting to improve the situation and reclaim what is rightfully his and P-Funks for a long time. Standing up for what is right! Curiously he barely mentions jazz, with no mention of Sun Ra at all, space ships and all.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Giuseppe Alioto

    March 2,15 4 of 5 stars Read in February,2015 George Clinton's Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' hard on You? amazed me with musical history and its inside look of the music industry. This book talks not only about George Clinton and his music throughout the years but music in general and all the changes he has seen it go through. This is a great book for any music love. George Clinton recalls his success and hardship throughout his musical history. A life lesson you can take away from March 2,15 4 of 5 stars Read in February,2015 George Clinton's Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' hard on You? amazed me with musical history and its inside look of the music industry. This book talks not only about George Clinton and his music throughout the years but music in general and all the changes he has seen it go through. This is a great book for any music love. George Clinton recalls his success and hardship throughout his musical history. A life lesson you can take away from this book is to fight for what you believe in. The book illustrates this with Clinton's life long struggle to keep the funk alive. The book is written as if George Clinton was telling you his story in person. The thing I like the most about the book is that it keeps you laughing with jokes and story's from his days on the road. An example of this is a story where George his naked in his hotel room and he accidentally set the drapes on fire and frantically tried to put out the flames out while not trying to be seen through the window. There is only one constant person in this book and that's George. He is an interesting person to say the least, he started out as a doo wop singer and as he grew older he became one of the biggest funk artist of all time and invented P-Funk. He makes himself out to be a cartoonish figure that is always messed up on some kind of drug. All you would need to do is listen to some Funkadelic and you can get some sense of what hes like, but this is only one side of him. When not touring or making music he liked to spend is time on his farm, fishing, and living a pretty solitude life witch is something you wouldn't expect from a person who is known for being very outhere. The book ranges from the 60's to the present day and is constantly moving around the county, the only setting it has constantly is the crazy funk world that he has built around himself. You get a feel for it when he talks about the people around him and the crazy drug fueled things they get into together. This book is great talking about music and the changes it has gone through and how the musicians can be deeply inspired by one another. It also is about behind the scenes of the music industry and how hectic it is and hoe slimy some people can get. This is an awesome book and I recommend it to funk lovers of all kinds. If you are someone who doesn't like to hear about drugs then don't read this book otherwise its great.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jim Davis

    The memoir of legendary musician, funk pioneer, and producer George Clinton is enlightening and often funny, and while it does contain some stories of a hard-partying rock and roll lifestyle that one might expect (particularly from the mastermind behind psychedelic funk) it is not particularly driven by such tales. It really portrays Dr Funkinstein as more of a music nerd who is very involved with the detail work of music production. In the end this is the story of the ups and downs of a career The memoir of legendary musician, funk pioneer, and producer George Clinton is enlightening and often funny, and while it does contain some stories of a hard-partying rock and roll lifestyle that one might expect (particularly from the mastermind behind psychedelic funk) it is not particularly driven by such tales. It really portrays Dr Funkinstein as more of a music nerd who is very involved with the detail work of music production. In the end this is the story of the ups and downs of a career that spanned decades, and saw every manner of high and low, bright spotlight and dark underbelly. He held his groups Parliament and Funkadelic together and used them as launching pads for the solo careers of his band mates and helped to found a genre that reshaped the course of modern music. "In the music business, like in everything else, so much dissatisfaction has to do with outsize dreams. When people start out in groups, everyone imagines making it, but no one thinks about what that means. Does it mean being a star, staying in the top hotels, headlining arenas? Or is it enough to be able to do what no one in the world does, and sustain a career as a professional musician? The mere fact of surviving in this industry is a huge victory. But survivors forget that the alternative is annihilation. They think that the choice is between a good career and a great one. They reach for stardom. And those unrealistic expectations are compounded by creative ability, or the lack of ability. People don't have a clear idea of what they can and can't do as artists. I knew my limits. I knew what I couldn't do. I couldn't play an instrument. I couldn't sing as well as some and I couldn't arrange as well as some others. But I could see the whole picture from altitude, and that let me land the planes." Nothing demonstrates the undeniable influence of George Clinton better than the two appendixes at the back of his Discography and Sampleography, where you can really understand the scope and size of his body of work and the influence he has had on music.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dhs Sparrell

    As a child for the *late* 60's, I've steadily listened to rock and roll and pop music to keep my "buzz going." George Clinton stands out a post-funk pioneer, who sailed on the rocky seas of the music business, in, I would say, glorious style. And kept that music buzz going for me. To enhance my reading, I listened to "Atomic Dog," while I read Clinton's autobiography, _Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?_ After a fashion, this is a spectacular read. It emphasizes the As a child for the *late* 60's, I've steadily listened to rock and roll and pop music to keep my "buzz going." George Clinton stands out a post-funk pioneer, who sailed on the rocky seas of the music business, in, I would say, glorious style. And kept that music buzz going for me. To enhance my reading, I listened to "Atomic Dog," while I read Clinton's autobiography, _Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?_ After a fashion, this is a spectacular read. It emphasizes the fisherman and Rock pioneer, vs. George the good husband and breadwinner, though that may have in fact been the reality of George's life in the 70's and 80's. George recounts details of the money in the music business, with characters all at once illustrious, famous, and sinister; his search to make hits; supporting cool new bands (including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, right at their start with Freaky Styley); and fishing trips to try to cool down after too much sex, drugs, and music. Lots of insight into a culture I don't know a lot about. Lots of insight. Check out the "statement of Jane Peterer Thompson" third appendix (C) on page 379. What? Bridgeport Music just takes Clinton's copyrights, and then George has to fight to get them back? Whoa. Sad final word on the music business, perhaps this is what the music business is all about. In my very very humble opinion (IMVVHO) this stinks.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Palermo

    A familiarity with at least the major P-Funk albums is pretty compulsory going into this, as Clinton takes us through his whole discography, contextualizing his thoughts through the surrounding musical and social scene. It's a bit less than what one expects from the ringleader of Funkadelic (the greatest rock band of all time) and Parliament (the greatest party band of all time). Which is to say that Clinton can't reinvent the autobiography like he could reinvent the musical landscape. As it's be A familiarity with at least the major P-Funk albums is pretty compulsory going into this, as Clinton takes us through his whole discography, contextualizing his thoughts through the surrounding musical and social scene. It's a bit less than what one expects from the ringleader of Funkadelic (the greatest rock band of all time) and Parliament (the greatest party band of all time). Which is to say that Clinton can't reinvent the autobiography like he could reinvent the musical landscape. As it's been hard to get a lot of information on certain P-Funk albums (was Free Your Mind... really recorded when the whole group was tripping on acid?) this is a handy guide. Despite this, there are some unfortunate gaps. Both Hardcore Jollies and Tales of Kidd Funkadelic, two of the least understood Funkadelic records, are barely mentioned. What works best is Clinton's insight into social hypocrisy from the standpoint of a bohemian hippie at the cutting edge of mainstream "black music." Clinton tackles industry greed, materialism, his own long-term crack habit, youth revolution, society's need for villains, and adapting to a changing landscape in the rise of hip-hop. He describes the artists who impress him the most as having "left the planet with that one." Because there's no great where there's no crazy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Rush

    During the 1970's, I, along with a number of my peers, were insane Parliament/Funkadelic Fans. At that time ,the only individual name out of the P-Funk brand that was known was Boosty Collins. No one in the general public knew who was “in charge” with the group, or anything. But, as time evolved into the 1980's and beyond, particularly with the release of “Atomic Dog” the World came to see that George Clinton had been one of the major players behind the scenes, so much so that he has become an i During the 1970's, I, along with a number of my peers, were insane Parliament/Funkadelic Fans. At that time ,the only individual name out of the P-Funk brand that was known was Boosty Collins. No one in the general public knew who was “in charge” with the group, or anything. But, as time evolved into the 1980's and beyond, particularly with the release of “Atomic Dog” the World came to see that George Clinton had been one of the major players behind the scenes, so much so that he has become an icon. I have been a Parliament fan since the release of “Mothership Connection” back in the '70's. That music brings me more joy than just about any in my life. So, when I learned that George Clinton had a book, I knew I had to read it. This book blows me away! It seems every time George Clinton opens his mouth to say ANYTHING, he either says something classic or profound. Every single time. George Clinton is not just a musical genius. He is a man profoundly wise about life. The gift to us as his fans is that all of his great qualities and characteristics come out in his music. This book is one of the greatest books that I've ever read---and I've read a lot. George Clinton has been in the music business since the 1950's, so by purchasing this book, a person is getting 60 years' experience of musical genius. It's well-worth the price.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    The memoir of history's greatest funkster is sometimes funny, sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes filled with paranoid ramblings (which may or may not be true). As would be expected, the best material focuses on the years 1970 through 1982, when he recorded and released in collaboration with a multitude of magnificent musicians some of the most significant records of our lifetimes. The insights into his creative process are priceless, even if I refuse to believe he simply started singing and "Ato The memoir of history's greatest funkster is sometimes funny, sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes filled with paranoid ramblings (which may or may not be true). As would be expected, the best material focuses on the years 1970 through 1982, when he recorded and released in collaboration with a multitude of magnificent musicians some of the most significant records of our lifetimes. The insights into his creative process are priceless, even if I refuse to believe he simply started singing and "Atomic Dog" came out of his mouth. The tales of dealing with the music industry, and it's role in helping Parliament and Funkadelic become such a powerful live force, are interesting, too, until they get bogged down in a never-ending litany of betrayals and counter-betrayals. Clinton does not hide from his 29 years as a crack addict, but I think he minimizes the problems that caused him in legal terms with his music. And I don't think he realized how it perhaps helped make his music less great the longer he did it. I haven't heard all the records after "Atomic Dog," but I've heard enough of them (and seen a couple of live shows) to know that the magic wasn't there in the way that it had been. Still, I'm glad to know he always enjoyed the experience of making it, and I'm glad to have spent time in the world of such a major figure.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Seth D Michaels

    Highly highly recommend this book, which really shows how brilliant George Clinton's mind is and how influential he has been. A history of American music from doo-wop to the present, including the way that black musical pioneers were robbed of the lucrative rewards of their creativity. Clinton is really fascinating - he's done every job you can imagine in the music industry, and his ethos and the savvy way he built his scene are so classically American - he's a self-invented, well-staged charact Highly highly recommend this book, which really shows how brilliant George Clinton's mind is and how influential he has been. A history of American music from doo-wop to the present, including the way that black musical pioneers were robbed of the lucrative rewards of their creativity. Clinton is really fascinating - he's done every job you can imagine in the music industry, and his ethos and the savvy way he built his scene are so classically American - he's a self-invented, well-staged character, unafraid to be ridiculous or too big, he's incredibly generous about sharing credit and making it about the community, and he pulls together funk and soul and rock and cartoons and sci-fi and musical theater and weird religious cults to create his own vast thing, which in turn has been mined by everyone that followed (there's a pages-long "sampleography" of hip-hop songs built around P-Funk riffs at the end of the book). Even if you only sort of know about Parliament/Funkadelic/etc, it's a great read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mitch

    George is really lucid for 72 (with a decades of heavy drug use under his belt). He breaks down his musical influences one-by-one from the 50's til now. It's fascinating, and I learned a lot about the roots of music that I like. He also spends a few pages breaking down each and every P-Funk and solo album, which there have been a LOT. It gets tedious, there. He seems like a real cool dude who's generous and forgiving, and who's work with hundreds, maybe thousands of artists. The book climaxes wit George is really lucid for 72 (with a decades of heavy drug use under his belt). He breaks down his musical influences one-by-one from the 50's til now. It's fascinating, and I learned a lot about the roots of music that I like. He also spends a few pages breaking down each and every P-Funk and solo album, which there have been a LOT. It gets tedious, there. He seems like a real cool dude who's generous and forgiving, and who's work with hundreds, maybe thousands of artists. The book climaxes with his legal battles... probably the reason he wrote it. For years he was in a haze while labels and middlemen stole his music. Literally, even sneaking masters out of one studio into another. To the point where labels were releasing albums without him knowing, and without him getting a dime. More power to him in that fight, but that stuff is dull reading. Fun fact- "Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow" was fully written and recorded on a 3-day Funkadelic group acid trip.

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