Tear The MF’ing Roof Off!

New documentary on the wild and dangerous times of Parliament Funkadelic Tear The Roof Off debuts in Chicago.

Growing up, I knew more about Parliament/Funkadelic than I knew about their music. Outside of “Give Up The Funk” showing up in K-Tel compilations, the only time you heard P-Funk on the radio after their heyday was a cut-out clipped-up riff here or there in the early days of sampling. (There’s probably a whole generation – and not a young one either – that knows the signature riff from “(Not Just) Knee Deep” as “that De La Soul joint…”)

Now I know the music better than I ever wanted to know about the seedier side of the organization. A few years ago, stories about George Clinton having lost the rights to his music evoked outrage among fans but eyerolls among some of his former bandmates. Some folks have trouble reconciling these two aspects of the P-Funk story. It’s almost certainly no easier for those who were at the eye of the storm.

A new documentary holds the promise of shaking some sense out of the whole of the Parliament/Funkadelic explosion – working with the greatest musicians in the world, creating new genres with throwaway b-sides and barely escaping in one piece and with the clothes on your back. “Tear The Roof Off” is a new documentary by Bobby J. Brown that purports to tell “the untold stories of Parliament Funkadelic.” Packed in the two minute trailer are allegations of forgery and presumed fraud, sexual assault, pimping and more.

“The stories of high life and wild ways are de rigueur for the rock scene,” the show notes read, “but the meat of this tale is an unraveling saga of Clinton’s ruthless manipulation and exploitation of band members, leaving some of his original collaborators bewildered and betrayed.”

Well then!

The film receives its Chicago premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center this August 12 and August 13 as part of the 22nd Black Harvest Film Festival, with panel discussions as follows:

AUGUST 12 & 13: Director Bobby J. Brown plus Dawn Silva, Jeanette Perkins, Billy “Bass” Nelson, and “Shady” Grady Thomas, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame former members of Parliament Funkadelic, along with Robert Mittelman, George Clinton’s manager at the pinnacle of the band’s success during the Mothership Connection Earth Tour, will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

AUGUST 12: Gary Kuzminski, Marketing Director of CIMMFest whose group JaGoFF has performed with members of P-Funk, will moderate the post-screening discussion.

AUGUST 13: Local filmmaker and writer Ytasha Womack, author of Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-fi and Fantasy and director of the upcoming Afrofuturist film BAR STAR CITY, will moderate the post-screening discussion. After the Q&A, guests are invited to a “funk” dance party courtesy of DJ I.N.C.