F1 — Funkadelic
It’s not easy to unravel the outlandish, tripped-out, tangled world of Funkadelic — they always played by their own rules, and did things in their own sweet funkin’ way.
Not so much a band as a revolving door of musicians led by George Clinton and Bernie Worrell, well over 30 people contributed to the project over a period of around 15 years.
From the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, Funkadelic served up an ever-evolving melange of psychedelic rock, soul and funk, R&B, and trippy electronic music — though they’d originally started out as a doo wop outfit. In their several incarnations, they were variously called The Parliaments, Funkadelic, Parliament and P-Funk, and although there was a certain kind of logic to where one ended and the next began, the lines were blurred to say the least.
So it will come as no surprise to learn that Funkadelic were far from consistent when it came to their band logo. The only guideline here was that there were no guidelines. In fact, their first four albums sported completely different renderings of the word ‘Funkadelic’.
But the fourth, ‘America Eats Its Young’ (1972) came complete with a cosmic fold-out poster by designer Kathy Abel. This featured a naked woman bestriding the Earth, looking upwards towards a foetus floating in a strange, swirling purple cloud. And running across the bottom of the poster, was a new version of the Funkadelic logo — the one that finally stuck*.
The logo uses joined outline capitals and drop shadows, in a curved, semi-3D composition, making the letters in the middle appear slightly further away than those at either end. The i is dotted with a skull sporting a Little Richard ‘conk’ hairstyle. Over the years, there were many variants of the basic logo, some rough-and-ready, others more polished, in different colourways and finishes. The skull design was also modified and played with.
The logo was skilfully woven in to the astonishing ‘more is more’ sleeve artwork created by artist Pedro Bell, who worked on ‘Cosmic Slop’, ‘Standing on the Verge of Getting It On’, ‘Let's Take It to the ‘Tales of Kidd Funkadelic’, ‘Hardcore Jollies’, ‘One Nation Under a ‘Uncle Jam Wants You’ (inside and back cover), and ‘The Electric Spanking of War Babies’.
George Clinton described Bell’s work as “invert[ing] psychedelia through the ghetto like an urban Hieronymus Bosch”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
*We’re not entirely sure whether Kathy Abel designed the Funkadelic logo or not. But we have a Funkadelic insider on the case. Ronald P Edwards (aka Stozo The Clown), who created cover art for the P-Funk All Stars, George Clinton and many more, is investigating on behalf of BLJB.