The Story of Funk: One Nation Under a Groove


The Story of Funk: One Nation Under a Groove

Documentary telling the story of funk, an irresistible style of music that burst out of the American black community at a time of self-discovery, struggle and social change.


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Transcript


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This programme contains very strong language

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Funk.

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Funk is a sensation,

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a universal feeling from another dimension.

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Funk's that thump in your chest

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that just makes you want to get on up and dance.

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Funk is all about rhythm.

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It affects your movements. It affects your speech.

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It affects the way that you dress.

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Funk, in its essence, makes you dance, makes you move.

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Some kind of tribal feeling, or tribal message,

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that makes people want to dance from the core of their heart.

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Definition of funk?

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Warm, damp place to give life.

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# Shit! Goddamn! Get off your ass and jam! #

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Funk's a state of mind. It's the sound of rebellion.

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A celebration of being black.

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What's interesting about funk is that it was ours.

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It actually brought us together.

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You know what funk music is? It's unapologetic blackness.

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HE SCREAMS Owww!

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# Get up offa that thing

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# And dance till you feel better... #

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Funk spread the groove around the world.

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Without it, much of the music we love today

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would never have happened.

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There probably would not be any hip-hop without funk music.

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That's all a funk attitude.

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You know, "I'm a player, I'm a hustler."

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That's all the stuff that George Clinton and those folks

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were doing in the 1970s. It's just called hip-hop today.

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So, as we're standing on the verge of getting it on,

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let's take it to the stage and discover the story

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of how, in the 1970s, America was one nation under a groove.

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# One nation under a groove

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# Getting down just for the funk of it... #

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By the mid-1970s, black America had gone totally funky.

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The groove was in full effect.

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MUSIC: Blackbyrds' Theme by The Blackbyrds

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But just a decade earlier, it was another story.

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MUSIC: Heat Wave by Martha And The Vandellas

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In the 1960s, it was hard just to be black.

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There was prejudice, discrimination and segregation.

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The only music made by African-Americans

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that filtered through to the charts was the vanilla pop

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of labels like Motown Records.

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# Could it be a devil in me

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# Or is this the way love's supposed to be?

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# It's like a heat wave... #

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So in the early 1960s, the funk was a mere glint in Mother Nature's eye.

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But one soul artist worked out a way to start the evolution.

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WILD CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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James Brown began his career back in the 1950s as an R&B singer.

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By the mid-'60s, he'd become so influential

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and famous in black music, he was nicknamed the Godfather of Soul.

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But in 1967, James Brown left soul music behind.

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With one song called Cold Sweat, he showed the world the future.

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And that future was funk.

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# I don't care

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# About your past

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# I just want

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# Oh, our love to last... #

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Cold Sweat was the song that just blew me away. That groove...

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it was different from earlier James Brown. Something happened.

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# Ohhh, yeah! #

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I think the thing that happens with Cold Sweat is that

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that's where he really turned the whole band into a drum.

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You know, so every element in there is just kicking.

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# I break out

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# In a cold sweat... #

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That was it, when he put that break in that record.

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Yeah, and the horns, everything.

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The bass, Bootsy, the whole thing.

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Yeah, that whole... That whole vibe was...

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# I don't care... #

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-THEY MIMIC THE GROOVE

-# About your past... #

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THEY MIMIC THE GROOVE

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There was more emphasis on the bass and drum locking.

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It became harder.

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It was...

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more intense, with less.

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James Brown surrounded himself with the best musicians money could buy,

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but it was him alone who decided what was funky.

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He'd get the band members to jam together, and then,

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one by one, he'd get each of them to play

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what he was hearing in his head.

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You had to really try to understand what he was talking about, you know?

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He would say a thing like...

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HE MIMICS GROOVE

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And it wouldn't really be anything, you know?

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But a bass player could try to think something like what he's doing.

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He'd say, "No, that's not it."

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They'd do something else, he'd say, "No, that's not..."

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Then he'd... He'd say, "That's it! That's it!"

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And when he said, "That's it!", you just kept what you were doing.

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Everybody hit it!

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Come on, now!

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Good God! Uh!

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Previously with rhythm and blues, rock'n'roll and soul music,

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the emphasis had been on the second and fourth beats of the bar.

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What James Brown did was to stress the first beat.

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This became the bedrock of funk music - the rhythm of the one.

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Hey!

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Yeah!

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Yeah!

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Yeah!

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There was that emphasis on...

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MIMICS DRUM PATTERN

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You know, his drumbeats.

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Yeah.

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Beep beep!

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Beep beep!

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Beep beep!

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James really conceived of the entire band

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as bringing these strong rhythmic accents,

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emphasising that first beat again and again and again.

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I mean, you know, every beat is there,

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but there's always that accent on the one,

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which is very African, you know?

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From way back in Africa, that was that rhythm that would just...

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You know, stir the soul, as it were.

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All of a sudden, groove was more important,

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whereas in years past, the middle part was very important

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and the vocal, cos remember -

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James wasn't doing a lot of lyrical, melodic vocals.

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He was... "Hiii! Good God! Uh!"

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Because he was just basically riding and dancing on top of that groove.

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Keep it down!

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Beep beep!

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It not only kind of changed the way listeners thought about

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what dance music was, what funky music was,

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but a lot of songwriters and musicians, a lot of his peers.

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All that we know, all that we do...

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James is the father.

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You know, they ain't call him The Godfather for nothing.

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He was the man that taught us all how to be funky.

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James Brown was funk's original pioneer,

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his Cold Sweat showing the path of the revolution.

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But the funk was not yet fully formed.

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Over on the West Coast of America,

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from the heart of San Francisco's peace and love generation,

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emerged a new funk phenomenon.

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Amongst the psychedelic rock scenes

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of bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead,

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this pioneering group was about to change the groove again.

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Hey, here's Sly & The Family Stone. Owww!

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MUSIC: Dance To The Music

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# Get up and dance to the music!

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# Dance to the music

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# Dance to the music... #

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Where James Brown's funk was strictly controlled

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by the Soul Brother Number One himself,

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in Sly & The Family Stone, everyone got involved with creating the vibe.

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Although they were a multi-racial, mixed-gender group,

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they had a sense of togetherness

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that really shone through in their music.

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A lot of bands back during that time,

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they would have the singing group out front

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and the band would be the backing band.

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But we were self-contained, in that we were the band and we were

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the singers as well, and we would all contribute to the lead lines.

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Sly would sing a line, I would sing a line...

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Usually always the low, uh...

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-LOW VOICE:

-# I'm going to add some bottom... #

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# ..Add some bottom

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# So that the dancers just won't hide... #

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We all had our own musical background and experiences

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that we were allowed to contribute to the band.

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So everybody brought something to the table.

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# You might like to hear my organ

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# I said, "Ride, Sally, ride now"... #

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Although Sly was the writer,

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musically he would allow us to express ourselves,

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and I think that that really helped the band to be

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kind of like a melting pot of music, so to speak.

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It was this openness to new ideas

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that allowed Larry Graham to go wild with his bass.

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He invented a new style of playing

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that would become one of the sounds most associated with funk...

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# Looking at the devil... #

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..slap bass.

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# Grinning at his gun

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# Fingers start shaking

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# I begin to run... #

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It was a technique he'd developed playing with his mum as a kid.

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My mom decided that we weren't going to have drums any more.

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Now, I don't know if that was for economic reasons or what.

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Maybe two people could make more than dividing it up among three!

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She never told me the reason.

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But, "We're not going to have drums any more."

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So that's when I started thumping the strings with my thumb

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to make up for not having that bass drum,

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and plucking the strings with my finger

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to make up for not having that backbeat on the snare drum,

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so it's kind of playing the drums on the bass.

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# Mama's so happy

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# Mama starts to cry... #

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After Thank You (Falettin Me)...

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That became a huge template for every bass player

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to start using the thumb slap.

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You talk about a song being written around a bass riff, that was it.

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Later on, other bands, if you were going to play some serious funk,

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you kind of had to have the bass player

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play my style of playing the bass.

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Thank You was a number one record

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that became a cornerstone of the funk.

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The way the bass riff left space for the rest of the band

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to fill in the groove showed the next generation of funkateers

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how to construct a hit song out of a jam.

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# Thank you falettin me be mice elf agin... #

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The more space sometimes that you leave between the 2 and the 4,

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and if you just play that continuously

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and let it just brew on the same groove over and over

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and over and over again, till it gets so powerful...

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that is ridiculous. That's like the kind of funk that I like.

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And then you make the ugly face. Like...

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-SHE LAUGHS

-That's funky.

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# Sing a simple song!

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# Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah... #

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Everybody helped create the sound of the band,

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but Sly was very much the head of the family.

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He wrote the songs, the lyrics, and even told them what to wear.

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Their freaky clothes and afros would define the funk look of the 1970s.

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# It's a simple song at last

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# Let me hear you say...

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# Ahhh

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# Ya-ya-ya, ya-ah-h-hhh... #

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They came as a unit. They were dressed as a unit.

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They wore the funkiest clothes.... Oh, my God.

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Bell bottoms, platform shoes, hats, jackets with fur on the side...

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It was almost like being in a dressed-up gang.

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He didn't like what I wore when I came to his house one day.

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So he looked down on the ground,

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and he had a cowskin rug down there, and he goes, "Give me a razor."

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And he got the razor, he went and cut a slit in the cowskin,

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I put it on as a poncho, and that was my outfit.

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I didn't choose that. That was hot and sweaty!

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But after that, I paid attention.

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# Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah... #

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It wasn't just the band's clothes that made them stand out.

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Back in the late-1960s,

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a mixed-race group with a black lead singer was rare.

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Just performing on live television

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was making a statement to the whole of America:

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an integrated society could work.

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But for Sly & The Family Stone,

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it was just about talented musicians making incredibly funky music.

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We just felt like a family, you know?

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I didn't really look at Greg Errico or Jerry Martini as, you know,

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the white members of the band, and I'm sure they weren't

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looking at us as the black members of the band.

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And so, the crowds that we played for,

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they looked at us like that and we looked at them like that.

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# Huh! Watch me... #

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But not everybody shared the same views.

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For black Americans, the 1960s was a daily fight for racial equality.

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There was widespread rioting and violent clashes with authorities.

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It was rough, you know?

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We had gotten used to being looked upon as second class, you know,

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and not deserving first-class treatment, and that's a bad thing.

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When people get used to being downtrodden and stepped on,

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that's a real bad thing.

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MUSIC: The Boss by James Brown

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# Paid the cost to be the boss... #

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James Brown believed he could help make a change.

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Thanks to some big funky hits in the second half of the '60s,

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he was a national superstar.

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And while he toured America, he used his fame

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to talk to local black communities,

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inspiring them to succeed in a white-run world.

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When you go to get a job, don't go just to get a good job,

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go in saying, "One of these days, I plan to own this company.

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"I'll be the general manager and build one of my own."

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# Look at me! #

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Brown believed money was the only way

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for black people to have any real power.

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He felt that the secret to the success of the black community

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hinged on being self-supportive

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and not just depending on government support

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or having to work for the white man.

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# Give it up to the funk... #

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As the 1960s drew to a close,

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James became part of a growing group of black leaders

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forcing America to wake up to the civil rights movement.

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We going to walk on this nation.

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We going to walk on this racist power structure,

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and we're going to say to the whole damn government,

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"Stick 'em up, motherfucker!

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"This is a hold-up. We've come for what's ours."

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# Give it up to the funk... #

0:16:300:16:32

But in April of 1968,

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this political push was stopped dead in its tracks.

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Dr Martin Luther King,

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the movement's figurehead, was murdered.

0:16:400:16:43

When Martin Luther King was assassinated, you look and you go,

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"Our heroes are being wiped out, one by one.

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"What can we do? Just when we...

0:16:550:16:59

"you know, we're getting some place, we get knocked back down again."

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Riots raged across America,

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and as one of the nation's most prominent black figures,

0:17:080:17:12

pressure was on James Brown to respond.

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James was pretty much the guy, you know, back then in the late '60s.

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There was pretty much nobody else that was as powerful and as strong

0:17:180:17:22

as James was, his voice and his music, and people listened to him.

0:17:220:17:26

# Uh! With your bad self... #

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James' answer was to unite African-Americans

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the best way he knew how - through the funk.

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# Say it loud

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# I'm black and I'm proud... #

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In 1968, he released one of pop music's most influential

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cultural anthems - Say it Loud - I'm Black & I'm Proud.

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# Say it loud

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# I'm black and I'm proud... #

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The single peaked at number ten on the national charts.

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Funk music was carrying a message of black empowerment

0:17:540:17:57

directly into mainstream America.

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The lyrics, everything, were right on.

0:17:590:18:02

It was perfect, you know?

0:18:020:18:04

It instilled pride in us, you know?

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It instilled a sense of purpose,

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so we could go further in life if we wanted to,

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and not to be ashamed of the fact you were black,

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because at that time, everybody was telling you, you were ashamed,

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you know, to be ashamed of yourself, or "you'll never be nothing".

0:18:190:18:22

# Say it loud

0:18:220:18:23

# I'm black and I'm proud

0:18:230:18:25

# Say it loud

0:18:260:18:27

# I'm black and I'm proud... #

0:18:270:18:30

Well, he played it live in Jersey City, Roosevelt Stadium,

0:18:300:18:35

and they had about 30,000, 40,000.

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And everybody said, "I'm black and I'm proud."

0:18:390:18:41

-"Say it loud."

-"Say it loud."

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-In fact, they had to stop the concert.

-Yeah.

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HE LAUGHS

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Cos we got excited, you know? You want to tear something up now!

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First time we played it live was in Houston, Texas.

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I'll never forget it. And James came on stage,

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and he said, "Say it loud..."

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And the whole audience...

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I tear up when I say this.

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"I'm black and I'm proud!" You know?

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It was...amazing.

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Amazing.

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The whole audience said it.

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Must have been 20,000, 30,000 people there,

0:19:120:19:15

and they all...all said, "I'm black and I'm proud."

0:19:150:19:18

# I am everyday people

0:19:190:19:24

# Yeah, yeah... #

0:19:240:19:26

While James Brown's funky protest anthem

0:19:270:19:30

plugged right into the heart of black America,

0:19:300:19:32

Sly Stone was writing some anthems of his own.

0:19:320:19:35

# We got to live together

0:19:350:19:39

# I am no better and neither are you

0:19:400:19:44

# We are the same whatever we do... #

0:19:440:19:48

He was the Family Stone's creative genius,

0:19:480:19:51

and whereas James Brown's lyrics were often about black pride,

0:19:510:19:54

Sly's message was about bringing people together.

0:19:540:19:57

# I am everyday people... #

0:19:570:20:02

More important than anything, to me, is he was naturally funky,

0:20:020:20:08

and everybody in the band was funky, even me.

0:20:080:20:10

But his lyrics were the most important things that he ever did.

0:20:100:20:14

He is so brilliant.

0:20:140:20:16

I mean, even songs like Stand, if you listen to Stand,

0:20:160:20:20

it was about the times.

0:20:200:20:22

# Stand for the things you know are right

0:20:220:20:28

# It's the truth that the truth makes them so uptight

0:20:280:20:32

# Stand... #

0:20:320:20:33

There was no talk about violence.

0:20:330:20:36

He doesn't talk about "get your weapons

0:20:360:20:39

"and stand up against something", you know what I'm saying?

0:20:390:20:42

It is just stand FOR it.

0:20:420:20:43

# ..Stand

0:20:430:20:45

# Stand. #

0:20:450:20:47

Sly & The Family Stone's sing-a-long songs

0:20:490:20:52

and hippy attitude appealed to both black and white record buyers.

0:20:520:20:55

By the time the band played Woodstock Festival,

0:20:560:20:59

they'd already had two huge number one singles.

0:20:590:21:02

If they could go down well in front of half a million rock fans,

0:21:020:21:05

the funk would truly have crossed over.

0:21:050:21:08

# Hey, hey, hey, hey!

0:21:120:21:15

# Feeling's getting stronger

0:21:150:21:19

# Music's getting longer too... #

0:21:190:21:23

But arriving on stage at 3am, they had their work cut out.

0:21:230:21:27

# ..I want to take you higher... #

0:21:270:21:29

About three or four songs into our set, people started getting into it

0:21:320:21:36

and coming out of their tents because it had been raining.

0:21:360:21:39

It was amazing.

0:21:390:21:42

But the energy coming from the audience...

0:21:420:21:44

So it was this whole thing that was driving...

0:21:440:21:47

They were driving us and we were driving them.

0:21:470:21:49

And it was like a snowball effect.

0:21:490:21:52

It was pretty powerful.

0:21:520:21:53

# ..I want to take you higher. #

0:21:540:21:58

The roar of half a million people

0:21:590:22:01

going, "Yeeeeah,"

0:22:010:22:04

I mean,

0:22:040:22:06

that was something that we had never heard before or felt before,

0:22:060:22:12

that kind of energy.

0:22:120:22:14

-# ..Want to take you higher

-Higher

0:22:140:22:16

-# Want to take you higher

-Higher

0:22:160:22:19

-# Want to take you higher

-Higher

0:22:190:22:22

-# Higher!

-Higher!

-Higher!

-Higher! #

0:22:220:22:25

It was just a turning point for us, to be seen by that many people,

0:22:300:22:37

for it to be written about

0:22:370:22:39

by as many writers as wrote about the Woodstock event.

0:22:390:22:43

It just changed the lives of a lot of entertainers.

0:22:430:22:48

Both Sly Stone and James Brown

0:22:520:22:54

had engineered the genetic make-up of funk.

0:22:540:22:57

By the early 1970s, it became infectious,

0:22:570:23:00

and soon the funk DNA was spreading all around the world,

0:23:000:23:04

spawning a wave of new music.

0:23:040:23:06

# Can't get enough

0:23:080:23:10

# Of that funky stuff. #

0:23:120:23:14

There's just funk everywhere, it became the music of young people.

0:23:140:23:19

Funk had become the new hot music in the black community,

0:23:190:23:22

and amongst dance music fans.

0:23:220:23:25

It was...it was the new shit.

0:23:250:23:27

# Fire!

0:23:270:23:29

# Fire! #

0:23:310:23:34

Ohio Players, the Commodores, Kool & The Gang, Tower Of Power...

0:23:340:23:38

Funk was everywhere, everyone had a band,

0:23:380:23:40

everybody wanted to make music that was funky.

0:23:400:23:42

You had Soul Train, you had "Soul!",

0:23:510:23:53

which were national TV shows that represented black music,

0:23:530:23:56

black culture, so people were having it brought into their living room.

0:23:560:23:59

# See how I'm walking See how I'm talking, Mamma

0:23:590:24:03

# Notice everything in me

0:24:030:24:05

# Your hand in mine And love me all the time

0:24:050:24:09

# The truth you will plainly see

0:24:090:24:12

# Come on and feel it. #

0:24:120:24:14

Even if you look at the Jackson 5,

0:24:140:24:17

at a certain point they broke away from the Motown model

0:24:170:24:19

they were given and they made Dancing Machine,

0:24:190:24:22

which was funk-influenced as well - they wanted to make music

0:24:220:24:24

that was funkier cos that's what was all around them.

0:24:240:24:27

# Dancing, dancing, dancing

0:24:270:24:30

# She's a dancing machine

0:24:300:24:33

# Oh, baby, move it, baby. #

0:24:330:24:36

The Jackson 5 weren't the only act from the Motown family

0:24:360:24:39

to embrace the music.

0:24:390:24:40

Although the Detroit record label was initially reluctant

0:24:400:24:43

to let its stars join the party, the only ones who would survive

0:24:430:24:46

into the 1970s were those who could keep up with the funk.

0:24:460:24:50

Little Stevie Wonder grew up from a child pop star

0:24:510:24:55

into a fully-grown songwriter

0:24:550:24:56

with a run of albums that featured some seriously funky cuts.

0:24:560:25:00

# Very superstitious

0:25:000:25:03

# Writings on the wall

0:25:040:25:06

# Very superstitious

0:25:090:25:12

# Ladders 'bout to fall. #

0:25:130:25:15

And it wasn't long before British bands got their funk on too.

0:25:150:25:19

Having begun their careers nicking riffs from African-American

0:25:220:25:25

blues artists, English rock bands like The Rolling Stones

0:25:250:25:28

and Led Zeppelin borrowed a few funk ones too,

0:25:280:25:31

working a couple of tracks onto their multimillion-selling albums.

0:25:310:25:35

# He sure is a good friend

0:25:350:25:36

# And I ain't going to tell you where he comes from, no. #

0:25:360:25:42

But it was a Scottish band who had

0:25:420:25:44

the funkiest sound in 1970s Britain.

0:25:440:25:47

Average White Band started out as a covers group

0:25:470:25:49

obsessed with James Brown's funk records.

0:25:490:25:51

They honed their chops on the London live circuit

0:25:510:25:54

and then put out their own monster slice of funk

0:25:540:25:57

called Pick Up The Pieces. It topped the American charts.

0:25:570:26:00

MUSIC: Pick Up The Pieces by The Average White Band

0:26:000:26:03

The record sounded so authentic, there were a few surprises

0:26:060:26:09

when the band took to the road.

0:26:090:26:11

A lot of audiences assumed we were black

0:26:110:26:13

because they'd heard the record on the radio,

0:26:130:26:16

and they would turn up and it was like...

0:26:160:26:18

-when we came on!

-Yeah.

0:26:180:26:20

And then as soon as we started to play, it was like, "Ah, OK."

0:26:200:26:24

# Pick up the pieces Pick up the pieces

0:26:250:26:28

# Pick up the pieces

0:26:290:26:31

# Pick up the pieces... #

0:26:310:26:33

They were so funky, even James Brown and his band

0:26:340:26:37

came to one of their shows to check out white funk in action.

0:26:370:26:41

He said, "Yeah, you guys, I like you guys' groove."

0:26:410:26:45

You know, it was the ultimate compliment.

0:26:450:26:47

Of course we went to the bar after that

0:26:470:26:49

and we were hanging with some of the guys,

0:26:490:26:51

and they were saying, "Man, when your record came out,

0:26:510:26:54

"when Pick Up The Pieces came out,

0:26:540:26:55

"everyone was coming up to us and saying,

0:26:550:26:57

" 'Man, we love your new record!' And we're going, 'It ain't us!

0:26:570:27:01

" 'It ain't us, it's some SCAHTTISH band from SCAHTLAND!' "

0:27:010:27:07

Funk was taking over planet Earth,

0:27:090:27:11

but another funkateer was already orbiting our atmosphere,

0:27:110:27:15

who would take the music into another dimension.

0:27:150:27:17

Armed with laser-guided melodies, atomic grooves

0:27:270:27:30

and rhythmic devastation,

0:27:300:27:32

this intergalactic funkonaut came from another planet.

0:27:320:27:36

His name was George Clinton.

0:27:360:27:38

By the end of the 1970s, Clinton had built a musical empire

0:27:440:27:48

that turned funk into a way of life.

0:27:480:27:50

# Make my funk the P-Funk

0:27:520:27:53

# Uncut funk

0:27:530:27:55

# I want my funk funked up

0:27:550:27:56

# P-Funk

0:27:560:27:57

# Make my funk the P-Funk

0:27:570:27:59

# Uncut

0:27:590:28:00

# I want to get funked up. #

0:28:000:28:03

It all began back in the 1950s,

0:28:030:28:05

when George Clinton led a barber-shop singing group

0:28:050:28:08

called The Parliaments.

0:28:080:28:10

I remember them as being a stand-up group,

0:28:100:28:13

wearing powder-blue suits, like The Temptations.

0:28:130:28:17

And they had a song called I Just Wanna Testify.

0:28:170:28:19

# And don't you know that I just want to testify

0:28:190:28:24

# What your love has done for me... #

0:28:240:28:27

But suits and smart haircuts wasn't George Clinton's thing.

0:28:270:28:31

He had the funk inside of him and it just had to burst out.

0:28:310:28:36

From there, things really start to

0:28:360:28:39

unravel, because as George has said,

0:28:390:28:42

they could not keep it smooth,

0:28:420:28:44

keep it together, like those Motown acts.

0:28:440:28:48

He said, "Yeah, we just sweated too much.

0:28:480:28:50

"Guys started ripping off their shirts

0:28:500:28:53

"and choreography got messed up."

0:28:530:28:55

# Free your mind and your ass will follow... #

0:28:550:29:00

George walks in and he's got this mohawk,

0:29:000:29:04

cut his hair down here,

0:29:040:29:06

and he had colour over here. I said, "What's up, George?"

0:29:060:29:10

"Man, I'm taking this thing in another direction."

0:29:100:29:13

# ..Free your mind and your ass will follow

0:29:130:29:18

# The kingdom of heaven is within. #

0:29:180:29:22

George's plan was to find a new platform for the funk.

0:29:230:29:27

Although rock had developed out of the blues and R&B

0:29:270:29:30

created by African-Americans,

0:29:300:29:32

apart from Jimi Hendrix, there were virtually no black rock artists.

0:29:320:29:36

So in 1969, George Clinton set out to change that.

0:29:360:29:40

He took the funk and married it with psychedelic rock.

0:29:400:29:43

He called it Funkadelic, and that's exactly what it was -

0:29:430:29:46

acid rock with a huge dose of funk.

0:29:460:29:49

# ..Well, I discovered that this life that was given to me

0:29:490:29:53

# Was not really mine

0:29:530:29:55

# Free your mind

0:29:550:29:57

# If it were mine I would have fun all the time. #

0:29:570:30:01

We were late, so we had to catch up with the psychedelic.

0:30:010:30:04

So, of course, we just

0:30:040:30:06

turned everything up, had all the Marshalls in the world...

0:30:060:30:10

went into the studio

0:30:100:30:11

and did Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow all in one day,

0:30:110:30:14

tripping on acid.

0:30:140:30:16

# Yeah, yeah, yeah

0:30:160:30:19

# Yeah, yeah, yeah

0:30:190:30:21

# If you and your folks love me and my folks

0:30:220:30:25

# Like me and my folks love you and your folks

0:30:250:30:28

# If there ever was folks That ever, ever was poor. #

0:30:280:30:33

Those first four or five Funkadelic records are the most esoteric,

0:30:330:30:40

bizarre, experimental takes on what R&B could be imaginable.

0:30:400:30:47

Cos they are full of parody and full of satire,

0:30:470:30:50

but then they are full of this amazing musicianship.

0:30:500:30:53

So it's not just guys kind of, you know,

0:30:530:30:58

taking the piss out of the R&B tradition

0:30:580:31:01

and the discipline of that,

0:31:010:31:03

but guys who actually know that discipline, know all the rules

0:31:030:31:07

and they know how to just completely abstract and...um, demolished it.

0:31:070:31:14

Although cult hits, Funkadelic's acid-drenched funk-rock albums

0:31:180:31:22

of the early '70s barely made the top 100 -

0:31:220:31:25

their experimental sound too challenging

0:31:250:31:27

for both white and black audiences.

0:31:270:31:29

But George Clinton was already moving on.

0:31:290:31:32

When everybody thinks they have them pegged, you know,

0:31:320:31:37

as these LSD-tripping, half-naked, performing...funk circus,

0:31:370:31:43

they revive Parliament,

0:31:430:31:46

but this time as... just this amazingly

0:31:460:31:51

spectacular, theatrical, dance-oriented act.

0:31:510:31:56

And George keeps some of the kind of conceptual...

0:31:560:32:01

um, headroom of Funkadelic in the thing,

0:32:010:32:04

but it is really masked by the beat.

0:32:040:32:07

# Get up for the down stroke

0:32:070:32:10

# Everybody get up

0:32:100:32:12

# Get up for the down stroke

0:32:120:32:15

# Everybody get up

0:32:150:32:17

# Get up for the down stroke

0:32:170:32:21

# Everybody get up. #

0:32:210:32:23

George wanted Parliament to be the group

0:32:230:32:25

that got HIS funk into the pop charts.

0:32:250:32:27

He looked to James Brown's band for help.

0:32:270:32:30

Bass player Bootsy Collins, his guitarist brother Catfish,

0:32:300:32:33

and most of the horn section were tired of Brown's control-freakery.

0:32:330:32:37

They jumped ship to join Parliament, bringing with them

0:32:370:32:40

Brown's theory of keeping it on the one.

0:32:400:32:42

But with George, they could go as wild and as funky as they wanted.

0:32:430:32:47

James Brown wanted, "Just like this, just like that."

0:32:490:32:52

Just like he said, everything had to be just like he said.

0:32:520:32:57

But George Clinton would take anything that you did

0:32:570:33:00

initially, but he would either mix it out or mix it in,

0:33:000:33:04

he would choose whether to use it or not.

0:33:040:33:07

I did some stuff that was so crazy

0:33:070:33:09

that George would say, "Did you mean that?"

0:33:090:33:10

And I would say, "Yes, I meant that." And he would use it.

0:33:100:33:14

It was freedom, freedom, you could do whatever you wanted.

0:33:140:33:18

You could make any kind of music that was in your heart,

0:33:180:33:23

that you could imagine you can do.

0:33:230:33:25

There were no rules.

0:33:250:33:26

# Tear the roof off

0:33:260:33:28

# We're gonna tear the roof off the mother, sucker

0:33:280:33:30

# Tear the roof off the sucker. #

0:33:300:33:32

With George Clinton in charge, it was pure creative freedom,

0:33:320:33:35

whether in the studio or on stage.

0:33:350:33:38

From the mid-1970s onwards, Clinton joined Parliament

0:33:380:33:41

and Funkadelic into one big touring circus.

0:33:410:33:44

He called the whole thing P-Funk

0:33:440:33:47

and turned the concerts into total theatre.

0:33:470:33:50

# We want the funk, come on

0:33:500:33:52

# Get up off your ass now! #

0:33:520:33:55

P-Funk shows were like going to the circus, it had everything.

0:33:550:34:01

It was just like watching images like this, like, what's going on?

0:34:010:34:08

# Do you want to fly this evening?

0:34:080:34:11

# Do you want to ride

0:34:140:34:15

# On the mother ship? #

0:34:150:34:17

First of all, there's a little tiny spaceship

0:34:180:34:21

coming in from the back of the hall, all the way to the front.

0:34:210:34:27

And then the mother ship just comes down.

0:34:280:34:31

And then George comes up out of the floor...

0:34:370:34:41

It was incredible.

0:34:440:34:46

# Everybody say goddamn!

0:34:460:34:48

# Get off your ass!

0:34:480:34:50

# Goddamn! #

0:34:510:34:52

It was one continuous song. It never stopped.

0:34:540:34:57

I think they would have to pull the plug to tell them to get offstage.

0:34:570:35:01

They played for two, three, four hours at a time,

0:35:010:35:04

and just keep playing

0:35:040:35:05

until it was like, "Cut! We've got to turn the lights off!"

0:35:050:35:09

# Give it up, y'all! #

0:35:100:35:13

There could be over 30 musicians on stage,

0:35:130:35:15

but they all knew how to play together,

0:35:150:35:17

keeping it all on the rhythm of the one.

0:35:170:35:20

The funk had become a spiritual experience.

0:35:200:35:23

It's that tribal thing, and what it is is listening to a heartbeat.

0:35:230:35:27

Everyone listening to the same heartbeat.

0:35:270:35:29

Boom, boom, ba-ba, boom, boom. Boom, boom, ba-ba.

0:35:290:35:34

You started hearing that.

0:35:340:35:35

And you get the people feeling more tribal,

0:35:350:35:38

and when you become tribal it brings together unity to the music.

0:35:380:35:44

MUSIC: Night Of The Thumpasorus People

0:35:440:35:46

It was this sense of unity that was bringing thousands

0:35:500:35:53

of black P-Funk fans together at huge concerts all over America.

0:35:530:35:57

This was the first time a black act had rivalled

0:35:570:36:00

the big live shows of the 1970s' white rock bands.

0:36:000:36:03

And for many African-American teenagers,

0:36:030:36:06

this was THEIR stadium rock experience.

0:36:060:36:09

P-Funk always had a humongous black audience,

0:36:090:36:13

so they were playing sold-out stadiums full of black people.

0:36:130:36:17

Like, if you went to a P-Funk concert in DC,

0:36:170:36:21

you know, as I did, like, in the '70s,

0:36:210:36:24

you never saw any white people there.

0:36:240:36:26

And it was black America buying the records,

0:36:300:36:33

taking monster P-Funk jams like One Nation Under A Groove

0:36:330:36:36

and Flashlight to the top of the R&B charts.

0:36:360:36:40

# Flashlight... #

0:36:400:36:41

As the money started rolling in,

0:36:440:36:46

George Clinton turned P-Funk into an empire.

0:36:460:36:50

I figured the best way to keep the dream alive is get as many

0:36:500:36:54

deals as you could. One group, you have one chance to make it.

0:36:540:36:59

Two groups, you've got two chances. And Bootsy made it three.

0:36:590:37:03

Then I realised everybody around you wants to be a star.

0:37:030:37:07

And we all helped each other -

0:37:070:37:09

it was the same people on everybody's record,

0:37:090:37:12

just another person got out front.

0:37:120:37:13

We did Bootsy, Fred Wesley And The Horny Horns,

0:37:130:37:18

Eddie Hazel,

0:37:180:37:20

Bernie Worrell...

0:37:200:37:22

We did everything, we even recorded the roadies.

0:37:220:37:25

Cos most roadies are musicians too.

0:37:250:37:27

# Well, all right, gotcha... #

0:37:290:37:32

At the height of its success,

0:37:320:37:34

there were nearly 100 musicians in the P-Funk gang.

0:37:340:37:37

It may have seemed like a crazy army of funk,

0:37:370:37:40

but just like James Brown and Sly Stone,

0:37:400:37:42

there was meaning behind the music.

0:37:420:37:45

They were very serious about their message.

0:37:450:37:47

Their whole vibe was black and about black empowerment

0:37:470:37:51

in different ways, and so I think that people

0:37:510:37:53

who don't understand that

0:37:530:37:55

don't really understand funk music, don't understand P-Funk.

0:37:550:37:57

The thing was to make you think.

0:37:570:38:00

We'd say stuff off the wall, but you have to ponder it.

0:38:000:38:04

"What the hell is he talking about?"

0:38:040:38:05

Might not be talking about nothing, but it leads you into thinking,

0:38:050:38:10

and when you tell somebody no, you REALLY turn them on to thinking.

0:38:100:38:15

So we would do a lot of things that we know people would say,

0:38:150:38:18

"No, don't do that."

0:38:180:38:20

Like, if you will suck my soul, I will lick your funky emotions.

0:38:200:38:24

# If you will suck my soul

0:38:250:38:29

# I will lick your funky emotions... #

0:38:290:38:35

You don't know why, but that just don't sound like

0:38:350:38:37

something you were supposed to say.

0:38:370:38:39

You know, and that makes you think, "What are they saying?"

0:38:390:38:41

# ..What's happening, CC?

0:38:410:38:43

# They still call it the White House

0:38:430:38:44

# But that's a temporary condition

0:38:440:38:46

# Can you dig it, CC? #

0:38:460:38:48

The P-Funk philosophy inspired black people to believe in themselves

0:38:480:38:52

and told them they could achieve the unachievable in 1970s America.

0:38:520:38:57

We had to get a lot of black people up off their knees,

0:38:570:38:59

who were thinking they COULDN'T do these things,

0:38:590:39:02

who were ashamed of being black, ashamed of being a Negro,

0:39:020:39:05

ashamed of being everything. They did not know what they wanted

0:39:050:39:08

to be called cos it was built into you to be ashamed of yourself.

0:39:080:39:11

You're told your options are limited,

0:39:110:39:13

you're told not to think about a life beyond the givens,

0:39:130:39:19

and here are these guys saying, you can be astronauts,

0:39:190:39:23

you can be aliens, you can be Ancient Egyptian mad scientists.

0:39:230:39:28

When they talk about black folks in outer space,

0:39:280:39:30

we didn't think black folks would be in outer space

0:39:300:39:32

unless we smoked weed or something.

0:39:320:39:34

So they were saying, "No, you can actually do this."

0:39:340:39:36

Parliament, Funkadelic, George Clinton,

0:39:360:39:38

they are liberators of the black imagination in 20th-century America.

0:39:380:39:42

That is the revolution they kind of fought and won.

0:39:420:39:46

But funk's power to free the black imagination

0:39:460:39:48

was reaching outside of the music business too.

0:39:480:39:52

In the 1970s, a wave of action films

0:39:520:39:54

were produced BY black people FOR black people.

0:39:540:39:57

Now known as Blaxploitation films, they were often

0:39:570:40:00

cartoon and sometimes controversial characterisations

0:40:000:40:02

of African-American life, or spoofs of classic Hollywood movies.

0:40:020:40:07

But they all drew from 1970s black culture -

0:40:090:40:12

the fashion, the language, and of course, the music.

0:40:120:40:15

Every movie had a funky soundtrack.

0:40:150:40:17

You were getting these artists who had an opportunity to score movies.

0:40:170:40:25

# Ain't I clean? Bad machine

0:40:250:40:27

# Super cool, super mean

0:40:270:40:29

# Dealin' good, for The Man

0:40:290:40:30

# Superfly, here I stand... #

0:40:300:40:33

Music made the film and the film made the music.

0:40:330:40:36

# ..I'm your pusherman... #

0:40:360:40:39

Freeze!

0:40:390:40:40

Blaxploitation movies gave African-American actors

0:40:420:40:45

the opportunity to star in leading roles,

0:40:450:40:48

something 1970s Hollywood was denying them.

0:40:480:40:51

-OK, Tom, used up your minute - get out!

-Don't "Tom" me, man.

0:40:510:40:54

MACHINE GUN FIRE

0:40:540:40:56

With funk music very much in the foreground of the

0:40:560:40:59

movie soundtracks, the films had an unapologetically black swagger.

0:40:590:41:03

A feeling that was directly taken from the funk.

0:41:030:41:06

I can't tell you how empowering it was for us to see

0:41:060:41:08

ourselves on screen that way,

0:41:080:41:10

and it was literally people that we saw in our communities with

0:41:100:41:13

the big Afros, the colourful shirts, medallions, necklaces...

0:41:130:41:17

They were walking like you walked, when you were

0:41:170:41:19

walking down 63rd Street.

0:41:190:41:21

They didn't just walk - they swaggered down.

0:41:210:41:23

They had style.

0:41:230:41:25

They were wearing the kind of clothes that you were wearing.

0:41:250:41:28

It was just a wonderful time for a lot of actors

0:41:280:41:32

that couldn't buy a part... to play in a movie.

0:41:320:41:35

And I just felt that was fantastic that our people got to work.

0:41:350:41:40

A lot of our people got a chance to get a payday.

0:41:400:41:44

Funk music was at the centre of a cultural shift where,

0:41:460:41:49

for the first time, African-Americans were able

0:41:490:41:51

to proudly display their blackness.

0:41:510:41:53

They no longer had to deny their African heritage

0:41:530:41:56

and were empowered to explore a history

0:41:560:41:58

the American education system had wilfully ignored.

0:41:580:42:01

It was necessary for us to recognise our identity,

0:42:010:42:05

because it was taken away from us and denied us for so long.

0:42:050:42:09

And suppressed. It was necessary for us to have that reinforced.

0:42:090:42:15

A lot of people became more aware

0:42:230:42:25

of our background, where we came from,

0:42:250:42:29

and I think that they were very proud of where us

0:42:290:42:36

and a lot of our ancestors came from.

0:42:360:42:40

The strength that it took to endure a lot of the things that had to

0:42:400:42:44

be endured just to survive.

0:42:440:42:46

And it started to be expressed musically, but also in fashion.

0:42:460:42:53

-ALL:

-Beautiful people know true beauty is natural.

0:42:530:42:55

-Wear their naturals proudly.

-Wear their naturals proudly.

0:42:550:42:59

-As a symbol of pride in blackness.

-As a symbol of pride in blackness.

0:42:590:43:03

Funk was at the forefront of this new wave of black pride,

0:43:050:43:08

with many musicians adopting African imagery.

0:43:080:43:11

# Mama ko mama sa maka makoosa

0:43:110:43:13

# Mama ko mama sa maka makoosa... #

0:43:130:43:15

When Kool & The Gang looked back to Africa,

0:43:150:43:18

it gave them their first big hit records.

0:43:180:43:20

They took spiritual and rhythmic themes from African artists like

0:43:200:43:24

Manu Dibango and transformed them into funk.

0:43:240:43:28

Our producer at that time, Gene Redd, said,

0:43:280:43:30

"I want you to record Soul Makossa."

0:43:300:43:33

"We don't really need to make a copy,"

0:43:330:43:38

because we felt that our music was creative enough.

0:43:380:43:41

So we make up our own Soul Makossa.

0:43:410:43:43

So we went in the studio, made it up in the morning, right? At Baggy's.

0:43:430:43:47

Funky Stuff, Holywood Swinging and Jungle Boogie.

0:43:470:43:50

So we stumbled upon our first gold records by not doing Soul Makossa.

0:43:500:43:55

-Mm-hm.

-We thought we'd make our own jungle music.

0:43:550:43:58

# Jungle boogie

0:43:580:44:00

# Jungle boogie

0:44:000:44:02

# Get it on

0:44:020:44:03

# Jungle boogie

0:44:030:44:04

-# Jungle boogie

-Get it on

0:44:040:44:07

-# Jungle boogie

-Get up with the boogie... #

0:44:070:44:10

Kool & The Gang were just one of many funk groups

0:44:100:44:12

who were all over the charts in the 1970s.

0:44:120:44:14

But emerging from this scene was one band that would eclipse them all.

0:44:160:44:21

# Yeah

0:44:270:44:29

# Hey

0:44:290:44:31

# When you wish upon a star

0:44:330:44:35

# Your dreams will take you very far, yeah... #

0:44:370:44:40

In the second half of the 1970s, Earth, Wind & Fire

0:44:410:44:44

beamed their precision funk into the homes of millions.

0:44:440:44:48

Started by funky drummer Maurice White,

0:44:480:44:50

this nine-piece band brought with them a meticulous level

0:44:500:44:53

of musicianship that made funk more popular than ever.

0:44:530:44:57

# ..You're a shining star

0:44:570:44:59

# No matter who you are

0:44:590:45:02

# Shining bright to see

0:45:020:45:04

-# What you can truly be

-What you can truly be! #

0:45:040:45:07

They used the same elements,

0:45:070:45:09

in terms of gospel, funk, jazz, soul -

0:45:090:45:15

all of that was in their music in the same way

0:45:150:45:17

it was in George Clinton's music,

0:45:170:45:19

it's just it was more polished.

0:45:190:45:21

Do you believe in love this evening?

0:45:210:45:23

AUDIENCE SCREAMS

0:45:230:45:25

Do you believe love was written in the stone?

0:45:250:45:28

CHEERING

0:45:280:45:30

George Clinton's music was a harder sounding funk.

0:45:300:45:34

The long jams, psychedelic freak-outs

0:45:340:45:36

and lyrical in-jokes could sometimes alienate audiences.

0:45:360:45:40

Earth, Wind & Fire was a lighter style, using the rhythms

0:45:410:45:44

and grooves to make catchy pop songs with a universal appeal.

0:45:440:45:48

# I found that love provides the key

0:45:490:45:52

# Unlocks the heart and souls of you and me... #

0:45:520:45:56

There were people for whom Funkadelic was just too weird.

0:45:560:46:00

Earth, Wind & Fire, their agenda was definitely to make

0:46:000:46:03

a black sound that also kind of reached into

0:46:030:46:06

mainstream Middle America as well.

0:46:060:46:09

# Come to see victory

0:46:090:46:12

# In a land called fantasy... #

0:46:120:46:15

Earth, Wind & Fire's funk-lite was not just more appealing to whites,

0:46:150:46:19

but also to the black middle classes, whose numbers were

0:46:190:46:22

significantly rising in the late 1970s.

0:46:220:46:24

Moving into white areas,

0:46:260:46:28

these newly affluent African-Americans were keen to

0:46:280:46:31

portray an image of black sophistication

0:46:310:46:33

that Earth, Wind & Fire represented.

0:46:330:46:35

The music is in some ways kind of leading that charge...

0:46:390:46:43

of segments of black America being able to move out of the hood

0:46:430:46:49

and into these areas with nicer homes, nicer schools, nicer lawns.

0:46:490:46:55

So there's a sociological parallel.

0:46:550:46:57

It was a new audience for the funk,

0:46:590:47:01

and they bought Earth, Wind & Fire's records in their millions.

0:47:010:47:05

In the late 1970s, the group scored five top ten albums,

0:47:050:47:08

selling out huge stadiums all over America.

0:47:080:47:12

They were one of the biggest bands on the planet,

0:47:120:47:14

and the funk was at the height of its powers.

0:47:140:47:17

# Gonna tell the story Morning glory

0:47:170:47:21

# All about the serpentine fire

0:47:210:47:24

# Gonna tell the story Morning glory

0:47:240:47:28

# All about the serpentine fire

0:47:280:47:31

# Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, oh, yeah... #

0:47:330:47:39

Earth, Wind & Fire's phenomenal record sales allowed them

0:47:390:47:42

to take P-Funk's live show concepts to the next level.

0:47:420:47:45

While they belted out their perfectionist funk,

0:47:480:47:51

they stunned their audiences with extravagant costumes,

0:47:510:47:54

choreographed dances and elaborate magic tricks.

0:47:540:47:57

This may have been the funk at its most commercial,

0:48:010:48:04

but at the end of the '70s, it was the greatest show on Earth.

0:48:040:48:07

One of Maurice's visions, brilliant, was that as well as having

0:48:070:48:13

a well-honed and toned band, musically,

0:48:130:48:18

let's give the people a feast for their eyes as well as their ears.

0:48:180:48:21

We were kind of into Egyptology at the time, the pyramids and the

0:48:250:48:29

Sphinx and all that,

0:48:290:48:31

it was part of our...our persona, part of our show.

0:48:310:48:36

CHEERING

0:48:380:48:40

People thought we could levitate! People thought we could...

0:48:460:48:51

I mean, they really thought we were magicians after a while.

0:48:510:48:54

They were doing tricks, disappearing, the drums

0:49:010:49:05

were moving, they were moving and different elements on stage.

0:49:050:49:09

It was crazy, it was like a magic show/fashion show, a dance-off.

0:49:090:49:16

I mean, I was exhausted, I felt like I had performed.

0:49:160:49:19

I was so busy screaming and yelling,

0:49:190:49:21

"Aah, I love that song! Aah!" You know?

0:49:210:49:24

But just as it seemed the funk was fully evolved,

0:49:240:49:28

a rival groove was working its way into our atmosphere.

0:49:280:49:31

Once it broke through, it would take over our entire planet.

0:49:310:49:35

The funk was under serious threat.

0:49:350:49:37

# Shake, shake, shake

0:49:370:49:39

# Shake, shake, shake

0:49:390:49:41

# Shake your booty

0:49:410:49:42

# Shake your booty... #

0:49:420:49:45

When disco came in, uh...things started changing.

0:49:450:49:50

Almost overnight.

0:49:500:49:53

And it was unfortunate for a lot of those funk acts,

0:49:530:49:56

cos it just sort of killed them dead in their tracks.

0:49:560:50:01

Disco was so big, they was having them in grocery stores at night.

0:50:010:50:05

Funeral parlours moved the caskets out the way, turned it into a disco.

0:50:050:50:09

They was in demand.

0:50:090:50:11

Although disco retained elements of the funk,

0:50:130:50:16

something vital was missing.

0:50:160:50:18

Funk's heartbeat - the rhythm of the one - had gone up in smoke.

0:50:180:50:22

# Burn, baby, burn

0:50:220:50:24

# Disco inferno

0:50:240:50:25

# Burn, baby, burn

0:50:250:50:27

# Burn that mother down, y'all... #

0:50:270:50:30

The beat went to four on the floor.

0:50:300:50:33

It became boom-boom-boom-boom, no syncopation,

0:50:330:50:38

so you just had this boom-boom-boom-boom.

0:50:380:50:41

And funk is bump, tacky-ticky-tack - syncopated beat.

0:50:420:50:47

So the beat went to boom-boom-boom.

0:50:470:50:49

# Ooh, it's so good, it's so good

0:50:490:50:54

# It's so good, it's so good

0:50:540:50:56

# It's so good... #

0:50:560:50:59

In the clubs, I guess, disco is easier to dance to.

0:50:590:51:03

It was a straight beat.

0:51:030:51:04

But one beat, to do everything with that beat is like making love

0:51:040:51:08

with the same stroke.

0:51:080:51:10

One stroke, get on your nerves so bad, you won't be able to come,

0:51:100:51:13

it's like not being able to come.

0:51:130:51:15

The natural rhythms of funk that made it so human

0:51:150:51:18

were being replaced by the computerised precision

0:51:180:51:21

of electronic instruments.

0:51:210:51:24

I remember having conversations with many drummers

0:51:240:51:27

and percussion players to say,

0:51:270:51:29

"Oh, my God, what's going to happen,

0:51:290:51:31

"are we going to have a job any more, are we going to be able to play?

0:51:310:51:34

"Who's going to hire us?

0:51:340:51:35

"Because now it's all about drum machine and technology."

0:51:350:51:37

The funk had to adapt to survive.

0:51:410:51:44

Earth, Wind & Fire tackled disco head-on by switching their groove

0:51:440:51:47

and punching into the charts with one of their biggest hit records.

0:51:470:51:50

# Dance

0:51:520:51:54

# Boogie wonderland

0:51:550:51:57

# Dance!

0:52:000:52:02

# Boogie wonderland

0:52:020:52:07

# Midnight creeps so slowly into hearts of men

0:52:070:52:12

# Who need more than they get... #

0:52:120:52:14

Many of the '70s' bands were posed with a dilemma -

0:52:140:52:17

get down with the disco beat,

0:52:170:52:19

or stay true to the funk and lose your record deal.

0:52:190:52:22

The reality is, Maurice didn't want to do Boogie Wonderland.

0:52:220:52:25

And Verdine and I said, "We should do it."

0:52:250:52:28

When it started shooting up the charts, Maurice was like,

0:52:280:52:31

"Yeah, yeah." You know?

0:52:310:52:33

So there's a slippery slope you have to walk between so-called

0:52:330:52:39

staying current and staying true to what got you current.

0:52:390:52:43

# Yes, it's ladies' night and the feeling's right

0:52:430:52:47

# Oh, yes, it's ladies' night, oh, what a night... #

0:52:470:52:51

Other funk bands realised it was time to change too.

0:52:510:52:54

Kool & The Gang - formerly an instrumental group -

0:52:540:52:57

introduced a singer, adapted the beat

0:52:570:52:59

and enjoyed the most successful hits of their career.

0:52:590:53:02

Ladies' Night wasn't straight-up disco, Ladies' Night was nice

0:53:020:53:05

because you still heard the Kool & The Gang style

0:53:050:53:08

-with them horns and where the groove was.

-Watered down, of course, but...

0:53:080:53:12

But our die-hard funk fans, they did NOT like that.

0:53:120:53:16

They hated it.

0:53:160:53:17

No, they said, "They sold out, they crossed over,

0:53:170:53:21

-"they doing songs like Joanna."

-We did.

0:53:210:53:24

-We sold out...of every record in the store.

-We could sell.

0:53:240:53:29

-The record company didn't have no problem with that.

-Nah, no problem.

0:53:290:53:32

But the original pioneers struggled to survive as disco took over.

0:53:360:53:40

James Brown, once such an innovator of black music,

0:53:400:53:43

was now playing catch up, his new watered-down sound failing to sell.

0:53:430:53:47

By the end of the 1970s, Sly & The Family Stone had disbanded,

0:53:510:53:54

with Sly practically disappearing

0:53:540:53:57

from public life due to a serious drug problem.

0:53:570:53:59

And as the clubs and dance floors of America were getting down to

0:54:030:54:06

that four to the floor...

0:54:060:54:07

..George Clinton's empire was in tatters,

0:54:090:54:11

as he battled record label disputes

0:54:110:54:13

and the spiralling costs of running his army of P-Funk musicians.

0:54:130:54:17

With a new decade on the horizon, how could the funk continue?

0:54:190:54:23

The answer, once again,

0:54:300:54:31

came straight out of the African-American community.

0:54:310:54:34

# Left my wallet in El Segundo

0:54:340:54:37

# Left my wallet in El Segundo... #

0:54:370:54:39

Just like funk, this new music form

0:54:390:54:41

was a direct reflection of black life.

0:54:410:54:44

They called it hip-hop,

0:54:440:54:46

and thanks to sampling technology, at its heart was funk.

0:54:460:54:49

# Just me, myself and I... #

0:54:490:54:51

There probably would not be any hip-hop without funk music.

0:54:530:54:56

James Brown, the most sampled artist in music history -

0:54:560:54:59

pioneer of funk music.

0:54:590:55:01

Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton -

0:55:010:55:04

second most sampled artist in pop music history.

0:55:040:55:08

Foundation for hip-hop.

0:55:080:55:09

# Yo, pretty ladies around the world... #

0:55:090:55:12

While hip-hop raided funk's back catalogue,

0:55:120:55:15

other graduates of the 1970s

0:55:150:55:17

school of funk were keeping the groove alive.

0:55:170:55:19

A wave of 1980s bands used digital production to keep funk

0:55:190:55:23

relevant for the next generation.

0:55:230:55:25

# Word up

0:55:250:55:27

# Everybody say... #

0:55:270:55:29

As did one man from Minnesota who spent his childhood

0:55:290:55:32

worshipping at the church of Brown, Stone and Clinton.

0:55:320:55:35

# Controversy... #

0:55:410:55:44

Prince began his career in funk, but by the mid-1980s, he'd moved on

0:55:440:55:48

to rock, pop and whatever else tickled his purple fancy.

0:55:480:55:52

# Do you get high?

0:55:520:55:54

# Does your daddy cry?

0:55:540:55:56

# Controversy... #

0:55:590:56:00

He made himself into a superstar in the process,

0:56:000:56:03

but that irresistible groove has always underpinned his music...

0:56:030:56:07

# Let's funk

0:56:070:56:10

# Uh, let's roll... #

0:56:100:56:12

..his recent records a celebration of his funk roots.

0:56:130:56:16

# ..Let's funk. #

0:56:160:56:19

The last 20 years have seen the beats, breaks

0:56:190:56:22

and bass-lines of funk embedded into popular music.

0:56:220:56:25

As George Clinton would say, it's in the DNA.

0:56:250:56:29

# And that's why I'm gon' take a good girl

0:56:290:56:32

# I know you want it, I know you want it... #

0:56:320:56:36

Blurred Lines, the big hit by Robin Thicke during the last year that

0:56:360:56:39

was produced by Pharrell, multiple rhythms, that's funk music, man.

0:56:390:56:43

What Pharrell Williams is doing, that's all funk.

0:56:430:56:46

Daft Punk - definitely a funk album.

0:56:460:56:48

-# Lose yourself to dance

-Come on, come on, come on

0:56:480:56:53

-# Lose yourself to dance

-Come on, come on, come on

0:56:530:56:57

-# Lose yourself to dance

-Come on, come on, come on.... #

0:56:570:57:00

While the funk continues to mutate and survive in the 21st century,

0:57:000:57:03

the original funkateers who pioneered this music

0:57:030:57:07

in the 1970s are still keeping the groove alive today.

0:57:070:57:10

# You're a shining star No matter who you are

0:57:110:57:15

# Shining bright to see

0:57:150:57:17

# What you can truly be

0:57:170:57:19

# You can truly be... #

0:57:190:57:20

When you look at the black music that's booked and appears all over

0:57:240:57:28

the world - Larry Graham in China,

0:57:280:57:30

there's a huge funk market in Japan -

0:57:300:57:32

this music has become an international language.

0:57:320:57:35

# Red-hot momma from Louisiana

0:57:350:57:38

# Thumbin' her way to Savannah

0:57:380:57:40

# She's been cooped up too long... #

0:57:400:57:42

George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic

0:57:420:57:44

are still out on the road doing their thing,

0:57:440:57:46

Bootsy's still doing his thing, Fred Wesley, Maisie-o,

0:57:460:57:50

all of these veterans are still out here keeping it alive.

0:57:500:57:53

# ..Ride on, red-hot momma You sure look good to me

0:57:530:57:59

# Ride on, red hot mama You sure look good to me

0:57:590:58:03

# Ride on, red-hot momma You sure look good to me

0:58:040:58:07

# Ride on, red-hot momma You sure look good to me... #

0:58:090:58:13

Funk will never die, funk will be here for ever,

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because as long as there's things like oppression

0:58:160:58:19

and discrimination, and people feeling marginalised,

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there's always going to be a need for people

0:58:220:58:24

to create some sort of multi-rhythm music that's

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so different than everything you will ever hear on the radio.

0:58:260:58:29

That's funk music.

0:58:290:58:30

# ..Ride on, red-hot momma You sure look good to me

0:58:320:58:34

# Ride on, red-hot momma You sure look good to me

0:58:350:58:39

# Ride on, red-hot momma You sure look good to me

0:58:390:58:44

# Ride on, red-hot momma You sure look good to me

0:58:450:58:51

-# Ride on

-Yeah, yeah, yeah. #

0:58:510:58:57

Yeah.

0:58:570:58:59

In the 1970s, America was one nation under a groove as an irresistible new style of music took hold of the country - funk. The music burst out of the black community at a time of self-discovery, struggle and social change. Funk reflected all of that. It has produced some of the most famous, eccentric and best-loved acts in the world - James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, George Clinton's Funkadelic and Parliament, Kool & the Gang and Earth, Wind & Fire.

During the 1970s this fun, futuristic and freaky music changed the streets of America with its outrageous fashion, space-age vision and streetwise slang. But more than that, funk was a celebration of being black, providing a platform for a new philosophy, belief system and lifestyle that was able to unite young black Americans into taking pride in who they were.

Today, like blues and jazz, it is looked on as one of the great American musical cultures, its rhythms and hooks reverberating throughout popular music. Without it hip-hop wouldn't have happened. Dance music would have no groove. This documentary tells that story, exploring the music and artists who created a positive soundtrack at a negative time for African-Americans.

Includes new interviews with George Clinton, Sly & the Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, War, Cameo, Ray Parker Jnr and trombonist Fred Wesley.


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