George Clinton, also known as Dr. Funkenstein, the Maggot Overlord and Uncle Jam, started the vocal group The Parliaments with several friends while working in a barbershop in Plainfield, New Jersey. After several hits, Clinton formed a second band called Funkadelic, which played more experimental music. The same singers and band members made up both bands, and the band eventually took on the name of Parliament-Funkadelic.
By the early 1960s, Ray Davis, Clarence Haskins, Calvin Simon and Grady Thomas replaced the original members of The Parliaments, joining Clinton in the five-man lineup. The band saw little success in the 50s and early 60s. Clinton moved to Detroit, and while writing and producing for Motown Records, the Parliaments recorded their first hit in 1967 with the song "(I Wanna) Testify."
In the same year, Clinton temporarily lost the right to use the name The Parliaments in a legal dispute. Clinton decided to form the band Funkadelic, which consisted of the same singers as The Parliaments, but recorded music that was more funk with strong psychedelic rock influences. Funkadelic signed with Westbound Records and released an album in 1970.
Meanwhile, Clinton regained the rights to The Parliaments and continued to write R&B inspired funk ensemble music for the band using the same musicians who recorded the Funkadelic album. Clinton changed the name to Parliament, and the band released an album in 1974. Clinton and the rest of the band began performing concerts playing both Parliament and Funkadelic music until the two technically different bands merged into one.