Home Music Music News

How Parliament’s ‘Mothership Connection’ Gave Up the Funk for a Whole Generation

George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and other P-Funkateers reflect on how they tore the roof off the sucker in the latest episode of our Amazon Original podcast Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums

Parliament-Funkadelic pose for a portrait in circa 1975.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

At the beginning of 1975, Gerald Ford was president, the United States and Soviet Union were approaching a détente in the Space Race, and a wildly imaginative barber turned singer named George Clinton was redefining the possibilities of funk music with his bands Funkadelic and Parliament.

That year, Parliament put out two albums — Chocolate City, on which he dared to imagine Muhammad Ali as president and Aretha Franklin as First Lady, and the iconic Mothership Connection, which played off another one of Clinton’s fantasies, sending Black people to space. Clinton felt it was up to him to paint a new tableau of Afrofuturism with music he guaranteed would “put a dip in your hip and a glide in your stride.” Songs like “P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up),” “Mothership Connection (Star Child),” and the group’s first gold single, “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)” were instant dance-floor anthems — and part of funk’s biggest crossover moment to date.

In the latest episode of our Amazon Original podcast Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, Clinton and many of his collaborators on Mothership Connection — including bass icon Bootsy Collins and trombonist-arranger Fred Wesley — talk Rolling Stone Senior Writer Kory Grow through the drugs, diapers, and free-form camaraderie that fueled this psychedelic masterpiece.

In 2003, Rolling Stone published its definitive countdown of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the most popular and most argued-over list in the magazine’s history. In 2020, we completely remade the list, adding more than 150 new titles. With the Amazon Original podcast Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, we’re delving further into the making and meaning of many of the records that made the cut, with exclusive insights from the artists who created them — and those who know them and their music best. Parliament’s Mothership Connection placed at Number 363 in the latest ranking.

Hosted by RS Senior Writer Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums appears exclusively on Amazon Music, with a new episode rolling out each week. Check out the Mothership Connection episode above.

From Rolling Stone US