The history of popular music is filled with the names of men and women who made, and then promptly lost, tons of money. The reasons they’ve gone broke are varied and range from drug habits and profligate spending to legal issues and fraud. Further, many musicians have signed contracts that greatly favor the record producer over the musician, leaving the performer with pennies while the record companies make millions.
According to Playback, one such musician is George Clinton, the “father of funk.” The larger-than-life character has been providing his audiences with an eclectic brand of funk-inspired music for decades, and he’s been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, per the museum’s website. He’s also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys, according to his website. Despite this, Clinton made considerably less money than he likely should have. Indeed, at one point in his career, a bankruptcy petition was filed in his name, although Clinton claims that the filing was fraudulent.
George Clinton signed an exceptionally bad deal
Beginning in the early 1980s, “sampling” became a thing, and it’s still a part of the fabric of rap/hip-hop and other forms of popular music, per a 2001 Los Angeles Times report. George Clinton’s music was and is eminently sample-able, and had he signed the right deal, he could have made tens of millions from licensing his music catalog to be sampled by other artists. However, the company that owned the rights to his music said that it didn’t owe Clinton any money, and even if it did, the amount would be trivial — a few million, tops.
By 2001, Clinton was buried in legal fees and touring in small clubs 200 nights per year just to stay afloat. According to Playback, Clinton even filed for bankruptcy. But filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean that you’re destitute — it just means that you have more debts than assets. In addition, Clinton claimed that the bankruptcy filing was fraudulent and that he never put his signature on the paperwork.
How broke is George Clinton?
It’s probably a bit of a stretch — indeed, a lot of a stretch — to suggest that George Clinton is destitute. Things were likely pretty tight for him at one time, and he once even crowdfunded to raise money to rent studio time, according to Playback. According to a 2015 Blurt report, he was selling paintings for $10,000 or more and offering fans other swag at lower price points, such as stage outfits for $500 or online music or art lessons for $350.
However, two websites that estimate the net worth of public figures both suggest that Clinton is, at the very least, a millionaire. According to TheRichest, he’s worth approximately $1.8 million, while Celebrity Net Worth claims he’s worth $4 million. It bears noting that in L.A., where many celebrities live, that kind of money isn’t really all that much. However, according to Flamingo Magazine, as of 2018, he was living in Tallahassee, Florida, where he had lived for the previous 20 years. Notably, the city has a considerably lower cost of living than coastal cities such as L.A. or New York.
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