Clinton Gets His Grooves Back

Four Funkadelic master recordings have been returned after 15 years to George Clinton in a decision by a U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles June 2nd.

Judge Manual Real ruled that the funkmaster had been defrauded of his own work through the complicity of former employees, a member of his former management team and his lawyers.

The four albums produced and recorded by Clinton under the name of Funkadelic are One Nation Under A Groove, Hardcore Jollies, Uncle Jam Wants You and The Electric Spanking of War Babies.

Regaining the masters could prove to be very lucrative to Clinton, as it means he’ll now have control over future licensing and distribution of his music and may claim millions of dollars in past licensing fees.

Music by Funkadelic and Parliament, Clinton’s other funk outfit, has long been among the most sampled in hip-hop, and Clinton unsuccessfully sued Bridgeport Music Group over those rights in 2002.

It’s not clear whether the June 2nd ruling will provide for a new claim with Bridgeport.

But it was all good news for Clinton.

“That feels real good,” he told The New York Times. “It feels good mainly because it gives me another shot. … I just want my stuff back.”

According to a statement released on Clinton’s behalf, the dispute over the masters goes back at least 12 years, when Nene Montes filed suit in L.A. against Armen Boladian and Bridgeport Music claiming ownership of the Funkadelic masters. That case was thrown out and another similar suit was filed in New York.

In the New York case, Montes claimed his company, Tercer Mundo, and another group, the Association of Parliament-Funkadelic Members (APF), owned the masters.

That time, Boladian admitted that he signed Clinton’s name to some documents, forcing the case back to California where a settlement was reached. Montes received a large cash settlement and the masters.

Subsequently, more suits were filed and eventually APF wound up with the masters along with some $2.8 million in liens from lawyers who tried the cases.

In the current case, Montes again sued APF seeking possession of the masters and, this time, Clinton entered the action as both defendant and counter-claimant. Clinton denied ever having signed over the masters to anyone and a document examiner agreed that two of five Clinton “signatures” in question were, in fact, cut-and-paste forgeries.