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B-Sides: George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider and others on the search for the Mothership

george clintonGeorge Clinton continues to bring the funk, but without the original Mothership. (Ade Johnson-AFP/Getty Images)

By Chris Richards

For today's Washington Post story about the search for Parliament-Funkadelic's lost Mothership, I called on members of the band to see if they knew where I might locate the crash site. They didn't have the answers I was looking for, but they still had plenty to say. Here are some interview excerpts that were left on the cutting room floor.

George Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic leader

Do you know where the Mothership is today?

It's still all over D.C. We had to store it there and the people that were taking care of it were doing a good job but they started stripping it down. It was parked in a garage or a gas station or something... We wanted to do a contest for the fans. Anyone that could bring in a piece of the Mothership would get a free copy of the new album.

What was the inspiration to do such an over-the-top live show in 1976?

We wanted the biggest production that a black group [could have]. It was the biggest production in anything.

You lived in Washington D.C. for a short time when you were very young. What do you remember the most from your time here?

I lived in Northeast... I was four or five years old, maybe. I can remember the blackouts. We had just dropped the bomb on Japan and you'd look outside and you couldn't see the sky from the planes. Rows and rows and rows of planes.

(Read more interview excerpts, after the jump)

Bernie Worrell, former Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist

Do you know where the original Mothership is today?

I heard it was stored in the Greek Theater in L.A. There's a Greek Theater there, right? Whatever road that is, there's a studio out there... Next thing I heard was that George had it back and it was somewhere in Tallahassee. Final thing was that it was sold -- or taken for money owed.

What was it like when the Mothership came down in concert?

There were screams, yelling, a big rush of energy coming from the audience. We had the energy from the ship, from the band and the audience energy -- three sources of energy.


Garry Shider, Parliament-Funkedlic guitarist

What was it like when the Mothership came down?

Pandemonium. That's what I remember. It was a new era. You could see a new era starting up... Nobody ever landed no spaceship on stage.

What do you remember about the troubled years Parliament-Funkadelic faced in the early '80s?

It was business as usual to me. That's how rock-and-roll goes. You go up and you come down. It was just time to revamp.

You told me you moved to the Washington area in the early-'90s. Do people here recognize you on the street?

Oh, yeah. It's all, "Hey, Diaper Man!"


Darryll Brooks, the band's tour producer and promoter

What made the Mothership such a powerful visual image?

They never thought about us in space. They didn't put us in cowboy pictures. Walt Disney didn't give us that. Hell, they didn't give us a black princess until 2009. But back in '77 a brother could get out of a spaceship? What a great day for a brother!

Did you feel bad about junking the Mothership?

You don't understand. When you're in a corner, if it's gotta go, it's gotta go. I feel bad, but what are you gonna do about it?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum didn't exist yet, but did you ever think about trying to donate the Mothership to some sort of organization?

That was not the frame of mind of anyone in my vicinity. I'm sorry.

Are fans angry with you?

I don't walk around with a shirt that says "I'm the one!"


Carol Kirkendall, the band's tour producer and promoter

(On tour in Houston, Kirkendall had a major problem on her hands: her tech crew had disappeared and she needed someone to land the Mothership. So she called on her then 17-year-old son Poncho, who was handy with machines, to come save the day...)

So what happened?

The tech crew that been with George since the beginning were the only ones who knew how to land the Mothership. And there was some kind of discord. George ran a pretty tight budget and there was some disagreement about money and the guys got mad and walked off. I got panicked... So I called home and arranged to get Poncho a ticket into Houston... He figured it out!... It landed a little crooked. Not badly, but there was a little tilt to it... His father just loved this. [Poncho is in school] and I'm flying him off to fix the Mothership.

By Chris Richards  |  April 12, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  B-sides  | Tags: Bernie Worrell, Garry Shider, George Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic  
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Next: In concert: Cham at the Crossroads


I really enjoyed reading this article. I live in Prince George's County and would qualify as "old school". It really brought back memories of their concerts at the Capital Centre. I remember the Mothership landing, and just couldn't believe it was happening. That was big time back then. I was having lunch at a local McDonalds reading the article and immediately drove over to the site where the Mothership was abandoned. It used to be called George Palmer Highway back then. I didn't get out of the car, but, just imagined that part of the history took place right at this spot. I had know idea that the band had such local roots. It feels good to know that the Mothership might be right here in Prince George's County. It would be good to see it. If Stanley truly knows the whereabouts of the Mothership, he shouldn't keep that much history to himself. It should be shared with others who could also appreciate it. It would not be difficult at all to raise funds to restore it and to find a local home within the County for such a treasure so that all could enjoy.

Posted by: RoyalRe1 | April 12, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

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