While James Brown may have kicked open the gates on the one, George Clinton is one of the unmistakable poster poppas for funk. Parliament Funkadelic created the entire universe that ultimately defines the vibe, feel and character of funk. But the estate of one of the original P-Funkers Bernie Worrell is suing the Emperor of Funk claiming that the foundation of the empire is rooted in deception and a fingernail.
Bernie Worrell was the funkafied keyboardist on most of the Parliament hits that you know and love including the Mothership Connection, Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker), Aqua Boogie and many more that gave him the endearing title of the Wizard of Woo. Bernie passed away in 2016 from prostate cancer, stage four liver cancer and stage four lung cancer.
After his death, Bernie Worrell‘s wife claims that George Clinton has refused to pay royalties to the estate that are owed to Worrell agreed to back in 1976 and that he has a history of delinquency in not only royalty payments, but also of getting his band members hooked on drugs and deducting the money from their paychecks.
“Clinton has a history of fraud, deceit, and delinquency when it comes to the performance of contracts that he has entered into on behalf of himself or his companies.”, claimed Worrell’s widow.
The drug related allegations came up multiple times in press and even the documentary Tear The Roof Off: The Untold Story of Parliament Funkadelic where band member Grady Thomas said that George “had a long fingernail. And he would go around and…, ‘hey man, here. Have some.’” That gives a hole new meaning to Hey Man, Smell My Finger.
She claims that Clinton used this power over the band members to not only get them hooked on drugs, but also as a means of controlling the royalties and to justify the payment deductions.
She also went as far as stating that George Clinton was very much the drug pusher of the band and that “Clinton’s drug culture caused many of the band members to become addicts who had to seek treatment for their addiction later in life.” and that many of the band members ”never recovered and drug addiction cost them their lives. Clinton manipulated the band members with drugs and promises which were never kept.”
She is suing for unspecified damages, but whether or not the charges can be proven is yet to be seen, but all of the royalty discrepancies (if true) are a much easier claim to prove although Prince‘s estate will tell you a much different story. George Clinton‘s representatives have not commented on the case.
George Clinton is currently touring on a Farewell Tour for his final performances with Parliament before he officially retires.