George Clinton’s “The Cinderella Theory”: One Funk Fits All!

George Clinton 2014 Courtesy of Getty

In 1986, Parliament-Funkadelic guru George Clinton was at a crossroad of sorts. His contract with Capitol Records, the label that had released his lone number one hit “Atomic Dog” 4 years earlier, was terminated. In fact, none of his other bands had label deals anywhere else. Outside of some random guest spots on other performers’ albums (Nona Hendryx and Warren Zevon to name a few), his Funk was in a directionless rut. But by 1988, there were signs of hope. Warner Bros. Records, a label that once swore never to do any further business with Dr. Funkenstein after 1981, surprisingly released his latest P-Funk spin-off act: the Incorporated Thang Band, fronted by members Lige Curry and Andre Foxxe. But an even more meaningful form of assistance would come out of the city of Minneapolis.

Related: “This Boot Is Made for Fonk’n'”

Pop music legend Prince formed Paisley Park Records in 1985, following the massive success of the movie/album Purple Rain. Prince expressed admiration in numerous print interviews for Clinton and his once sprawling P-Funk empire. Clinton once remembered telling the Purple One, “Why don’t I cut something, I’ll pee on it, send it to you, you pee on it and send it back. And…that’s what we did.” The result was The Cinderella Theory an album that simultaneously feeds off numerous themes present in 1980’s P-Funk, while also displaying the slight influence of his new label boss.

Released to mixed reviews on August 2nd, 1989,ย  the album still displays moments of Funk- induced magic. The album’s high points include:


Written by George’s son Tracey Lewis (Trey Lewd), “Airbound” salutes the glories of flight from the perspective of pilots. Exquisite group vocals by over 25 background singers turn this flight of Funk fancy into a soaring masterpiece.


Mixing the themes of boombox radio glory with the tragedy of neighborhood violence, “Tweakin'” features keyboardist David Spradley and sound engineer Bob Bishop along with Rap legends Chuck D and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy.

“Why Should I Dog You Out?”

The album’s first single takes up where “Atomic Dog” left off, with fresh canine shenanigans. The track’s video features a “who’s who” of Golden Era rap and R&B, including Ice T, Daddy-O from Stetsasonic, Afrika Bambaataa, MC Hammer, Kool G Rap and Polo, Run DMC, and Al B. Sure.

“Rita Bewitched”

One of two CD-only tracks, father Clinton and his son Tracey collaborate to wax philosophic about a woman with witch-like qualities, manipulating thoughts and actions almost to her advantage. Her old Black magic got the Doctor in a spell.

Related: “Nicky (Wonder) Was My Favorite Guitar Player Ever”

While The Cinderella Theory was in no way a success, it did launch what might be the longest comeback in popular music history. George, along with The P-Funk All-Stars toured the U.S., Europe, and Japan after the album’s release and still tour to this day.ย  Simultaneously, rappers would engage in heavy sampling of the P-Funk catalog, which in turn resulted in their entire back catalog being reissued on CD. A second George Clinton album, Hey Man, Smell My Finger, would be released in 1993 and would be one of the last releases on the Paisley Park label, which ceased production in 1994. The Cinderella Theory proved among other thangs, that Funk ain’t going nowhere. It’s forever coming.

-Tim Kinley

Photo: George Clinton in 2014/Getty Images

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7 comments on “George Clinton’s “The Cinderella Theory”: One Funk Fits All!

  1. Thank you, Tim Kinley, for all you do! “Where’d you get yo’ FUNK from”?๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

  2. Bustin Bob

    What struck me about this record is the singles never charted at all. Donโ€™t you find that odd? The funkiest thing on it is โ€œKredit Kardโ€.

  3. Fred Henry

    The quote about “peeing on it” is actually about Paradigm, a song Clinton and Prince recorded a decade later. Prince had no involvement in The Cinderella Theory.

    • Prince’s involvement on the Cinderella Theory went largely uncredited. The Pee reference was definitely related to the Cinderella Theory album, not Paradigm.

  4. Fred Henry

    Thank you for your reply. As far as research has shown so far (on the Prince side, at least), there was zero involvement by Prince on TCT safe for the Tweakin’ single remixes. The only thing I’m aware of is George being quoted by Yahoo saying “he (Prince) didnโ€™t work too much on that one”, which suggests SOME work, but it’s unclear what, if anything but the aforementioned remixes. If you happen to have any sourced information about Prince’s involvement and which songs he can be heard on, believe me, you would make a lot of people happy, myself included, so please, by all means let us know. As for the quote about peeing, it was definitely used about Paradigm, as it’s written on the song’s 2001 release on a CD-R (a picture of which can be found on Discogs). Another occurrence (from the same Yahoo interview) is, however, referencing a tape from soon after George left Capitol (which may or may not be an early draft of Paradigm). I suspect George may have used the quote several times about several songs. But again, if it was used about TCT specifically, a source would be super welcome. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    • The “pee” reference was done before George secured a contract on Paisley Park Records. So it definitely wasn’t in reference to Paradigm. In an interview broadcast on Yo! MTV Raps, George indirectly states that Prince was involved in the recording of Tweakin’.

      • fred henry

        Thanks for the reply and clarification. Sadly I couldn’t find this interview online, I would have been curious to see if this could possibly mean the Tweakin’ 12” mixes Prince got credit for, or unambiguously the album version. Hopefully, Duane Tudahl or some other Prince researcher will eventually get to the bottom of this ๐Ÿ™‚

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