George Clinton at the Blackbox Theater

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Last night, the weather outside was cold and crisp, but inside the Blackbox Theater at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Library and Archives at Tri-C, the atmosphere was hot and undoubtedly funky as a standing room only crowd gathered to catch a whiff of Funk music pioneer and 1997 Rock Hall inductee, George Clinton. As a part of the Rock Hall's month long celebration of Black history, Clinton was in town to take part in an interview session with Dr. Lauren Onkey, the Rock Hall Vice President of Education & Public Programs. He also promoted his new memoir Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You? along with a newly released Funkadelic album, First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate. A diverse and anxious crowd filled the theater as classic P-Funk tunes like "Mr. Wiggles" and "Aqua Boogie" filled the room before a few rare artifacts like the original design of the famed Mothership (which now resides at the Smithsonian) were presented. A video of a live P-Funk Mothership landing from Houston in 1976 was used to introduce a multiple pattern-wearing and brown fedora-sporting Clinton, who emerged to a standing ovation and shouted "We want the funk!" before taking his seat. The interview ran the gamut and included topics such as Clinton's early barbershop days, some of his major influences, his feelings on the new generation of music makers, how he was able to get away with making political statements, his experiences overseas and even his copyright battles. "I always knew I would have to tell my story one day," Clinton says when asked about his decision to write a memoir now. "I've been working on it for about three or four years." Following the interview, Clinton signed copies of his book and new album while chatting with fans.

Story and photos by Emanuel Wallace