George Clinton grew up listening to rock 'n' roll. It was Eric Clapton who indirectly helped him realize how he could be part of it.

The legendary Parliament-Funkadelic icon had already recognized that there was always a bit of the past represented in anything new. “You might learn a new dance in order to dance to it, but it’s still that same groove,” he explains in …And Your Ass Will Follow, the newest entry in Audible’s ongoing Words + Music series.

But he also perceived that there was a barrier that he had to work past. “I deliberately brought the attention to funk, because I’d already seen what I knew in the ‘50s to be black music -- which was rock and roll -- was black music at first,” he said. “By the time it got to the ‘60s, I wouldn’t be able to do it. You had to cross over to do it. It had become white music. You know, it really wasn’t. We knew that Jimi Hendrix was partaking, but he was one of the only ones.”

What George Clinton Learned From Eric Clapton

“I actually learned from Eric Clapton more about my own music than I paid attention to when I was growing up,” he laughed. “Because that was old folks’ music. When I listened to the blues, that was my mother and father’s music. Kids don’t like their mother and father’s music. They never did! But once you get old enough to appreciate it, then you realize, whoa, I’d better get back to my lessons -- when I have to wait for somebody all the way over in England to tell me about Robert Johnson!”

Now that he was “paying attention,” as he puts it, his place became more clear. “I recognized, okay, blues and rock and roll, funk is another part of that music that they weren’t doing!” In the below clip from …And Your Ass Will Follow, Clinton shares other memories from his early days growing up in New Jersey.

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Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

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