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1978: The Year That Parliament-Funkadelic Ruled The Universe

Parliament Funkadelic

Exactly 40 years ago, the musical collective known as Parliament-Funkadelic was enjoying their most successful year ever, one that resulted in a series of genre-defining and genre-defying albums that yielded a string of gold and platinum awards. It’s worth noting that the groundwork for this journey actually started in December of 1977 with the release of Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome, an extraordinary album that wouldn’t take full flight until the following year. What follows is a “bump by bump” rundown on how George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and the rest of P-Funk were transformed into international superstars in the span of a mere twelve months.

January

Parliament’s “Flashlight” is released by Casablanca Records and immediately becomes the band’s first number one hit on the Billboard R&B singles charts. It would eventually attain gold status — one million units sold — by May of the same year. Meanwhile, Player of the Year by Bootsy’s Rubber Band is released by Warner Bros Records on Jan. 27, soon thereafter peaking at number one on Billboard’s R&B album chart with “Bootzilla” becoming that band’s first number one single on the charts (ironically knocking “Flashlight” out of the top spot).

April

Parlet’s Pleasure Principle is released, marking the arrival of the first female-led P-Funk spin-off act. Consisting of former P-Funk background singers Mallia Franklin (R.I.P.), Debbie Wright (R.I.P.) and Jeanette Washington, the trio’s debut album pointed the Funk slightly in the direction of disco, particularly the album’s title track which garnered some airplay on disco radio stations nationwide.

Related: “Maggot Brain: Funkadelic’s All-Time Masterpiece”

September

On the 22nd of this month, Funkadelic’s One Nation Under a Groove is released on Warner Bros Records. The album and title track single both hit the top of the Billboard R&B charts. Both become certified million sellers and eventually become Funkadelic’s biggest releases (and also feature ex-Ohio Player Walter Junie Morrison). Shortly thereafter, the Brides of Funkenstein — consisting of former P-Funk/Sly Stone background vocalists Lynn Mabry and Dawn Silva — release their debut album Funk or Walk on Atlantic Records. The album’s first single “Disco to Go” climbs all the way to number seven on the Billboard R&B singles charts.

November

Parliament releases the LP Motor Booty Affair on Nov. 20. The album quickly achieves gold status (over 500,000 copies sold), makes it all the way to number two on the R&B album charts while the album’s first single “Aqua Boogie” reaches number one on the R&B singles charts.

December

P-Funk closes out a spectacular year with the debut album of keyboardist-composer Bernie Worrell: All the Woo in the World (released by Arista Records). Here, the one-time musical director of P-Funk takes center stage, assisted by musical cohorts Bootsy Collins, Garry Shider, and of course, the good doctor his self, George Clinton. The stand out track on this particular project is the Clinton-Collins-Worrell penned masterpiece, “Insurance Man for the Funk.” There were also a number of projects done by former P-Funk members that were not produced by George Clinton, including another from Arista Records: the self-titled debut LP of the short-lived band Quazar, led by former P-Funk vocalist Glenn Goins who would sadly pass away from Hodgkins Lymphoma on Jul. 29 of this very year. Lastly, fellow P-Funk vocalist Clarence Fuzzy Haskins released his second album on Westbound Records entitled Radio Active. Like we said, 1978 was the year that Parliament-Funkadelic ruled the universe.

Tim Kinley

Photo: George Clinton (left) of Parliament. (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty)

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35 comments on “1978: The Year That Parliament-Funkadelic Ruled The Universe

  1. Avatar

    Greatest and most talented band ever and yet very few people have heard of them which is a delicious shame…as George would say ‘ they aint yet ready for us ‘

    • Avatar
      Greg Smith

      I couldn’t agree more…a collective of master musicians from top to bottom.

  2. Avatar
    Wendell Hussey

    Nice article Professor Kinley 🙂 I really appreciate and enjoy what you do to keep the funk alive and thriving. Keep keeping it on the ☝️????????????

  3. Avatar

    Long Live the FUNKK!!!! PARLIAMENT/RICK JAMES/BOOTSY COLLINS/BAR KAYS…..????️????????????????????️????????

    • Avatar

      Aye Rodney you got good taste in music,all of those groups are my favorite,all you need to throw in was the Ohio players and dramatics and with the groups you got on there I don’t think you would have a problem with these two.

      • Avatar
        Norris Curtis Wright

        Are you sure about that September 1978 release date for One Nation under a Groove?….because I was at the Funk Fess in August 1978 in Chicago and they were already playing that cut….🤘

        • Avatar

          150% sure. Verified by numerous in-house sources including the Warner Bros. label magazine Wax Paper. That Chicago Funk Festival was done right around the time that the One Nation single was released. The single was released around a month before the album.

  4. Avatar
    Morgan Brown

    This was all from my era! I’m a drummer from DC, and I agree with all of this! I just wish my favorite Funkadelic album was mentioned or listed: “Hardcore Jollies”. Brilliant album!!

    • Avatar

      OMG That is my favorite also, but I could not recall the name at all, until you just did. Thank you. Hardcore Jollies! The best.

  5. Avatar
    Curt Pugh

    Long live George Clinton ????️

  6. Avatar
    Robert Hopkins

    That was my era number one group still if you ask me I will be a funk up till the day I die!! I am still on the MOTHER SHIP!!!

  7. Avatar

    It could be said that the groundwork for all of this music began when George and the crew left Plainfield, NJ. A bit more foundation was laid when the “Parliament’s” left Motown Records. Being denied radio play in Detroit sealed the deal: too Black for Rock radio, too White for Black radio.

  8. Avatar

    Long live the Real Funk????

  9. Avatar
    Lawrence Wayne Walton

    I promised to funk when I was 12.I used to turn down to volume on the stereo so my grandma (Madear)wouldn’t hear the profanity on Take it to the stage. I’m still funky bobba at 59 years old.Funk getting stronger.

  10. Avatar

    We have returned to clam the pyramids “that’s funk”

  11. Avatar
    ROBINETTE L Weldon

    That was my JR year of High School, and that music is and always great to Me!!!!

  12. Avatar

    The best funk in the world and they keep us partying all the time. The young people of today have nothing to compare to parliment/funkadelics . James!! On

  13. Avatar
    Enduro Henderson

    I’m a straight out Funkateer. At 58 years old I grew up in that funkicious era. I remember the very early P-Funk but when I witnessed the landing of the Mothership at the Inglewood Forum, well I was completely hooked and hardly ever missed a P-Funk concert evem up to now.

  14. Avatar
    Garry Anthony

    My ring tone is Tear the Roof Off the Sucka. Got to have my funk uncut!

    • Avatar
      P. Maximus

      I wants my funk uncut. Me too. There ought to be a Pfunk Movement again. I’m 59 and as white as bread but “I want the bomb”. And long live the founder of it all George P. Clinton.

  15. Avatar

    No mention of Edward Hazel the baddest guitar player the Funkadelics ever had games Dames and guitar things California Dreaming

  16. Avatar
    Todd Thomas

    What’s a Cell Phone Bill???

  17. Avatar
    Oliver Hinkle

    having junie morrison join the established P-Funk monster put them over the top…baddest band on the planet????????????????????????????

  18. Avatar
    Pierre(Wizard) Williams

    You did a great job with the mentioning if the more commerical Funk Songs, there’s so much more to research that’s Pure Funk and nothing but the Funk.I know so many people still Funkin, it’s a way of Life. Funkin Forever.
    Let the Funk Live Forever.

  19. Avatar
    Keith Brown

    Been knee deep in funk since around 1975/ 76.Went to my first P Funk show at the Summit in Houston in 78. I still have the the ticket stub. I have rarely missed a P Funk show since. I
    Have been buying their music and almost anything P Funk related since. It’s just in my DNA. P Funk for life!

  20. Avatar
    Robert Youngblood

    Bootsy “There are no walls beyond the sky so we must fly on”!
    Translation. Keep on keeping on.
    R. Youngblood.

  21. Avatar
    Stevie Del Ray

    You might as well pay attention, you can’t afford free speech…

  22. Avatar
    Ronnie blaze

    The funk runs through my veins

  23. Avatar

    Yeah man this is the apex right here. Then the music industry basically yanked the rug out from under them. Too radical. Rowdy. Underground. You know what I wonder? What would they have sounded like if the original Parliaments had not walked out Summer 77. Can you imagine them being on the Flashlight Tour, or Motor Booty the following year?

  24. Avatar
    antoinne jennings

    6TH row center madison square garden 1976…landing of the Mothership…opening act…frankie beverly and maze then bootsy and the rubber band….greatest concert EVER….seen them in concert about 15 times

    • Avatar

      ONLY 15 times? LOL. I lost track back in the early 90s at more than 30 P-Funk concerts since the original landings of the Holy Mothership (…the Bar-Kays were their opening act when I attended), although have only seen Bootsy in concert about 5 or 6 times between 1977 and 2011 on his “Tha Funk Capitol of The World” tour. Sadly, Bootsy stopped touring before I had the chance to see him perform with his new & improved Space Bass.

      Like so many, I promised to Funk the Whole Funk, and nothing but The Funk way back in my early teens. Funkateer for Life!

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