By the late 1960s Clinton had assembled a touring band to back up the Parliaments, the first stable lineup of which included Billy Bass Nelson (bass), Eddie Hazel (lead guitarist), Tawl Ross (guitarist), Tiki Fulwood (drums), and Mickey Atkins (keyboards). After a contractual dispute in which Clinton temporarily lost the rights to the name "The Parliaments," Clinton brought the backing musicians forward and christened them Funkadelic, a guitar-based raw funk band with heavy psychedelic rock influences. Clinton signed Funkadelic to Westbound Records, and the five Parliaments singers were credited as "guests" while the five musicians were listed as the main group members. The debut album Funkadelic was released in 1970.
Meanwhile, Clinton regained the rights to the name "The Parliaments" and initiated another new entity, now known as Parliament, with the same five singers and five musicians but this time as a smoother R&B-based funk ensemble that Clinton positioned as a counterpoint to the more rock-oriented Funkadelic. Parliament recorded Osmium for Invictus Records in 1970, and after a hiatus in which Clinton focused on Funkadelic, Parliament was signed to Casablanca Records and released its debut for that label Up for the Down Stroke in 1974. The two bands began to tour together under the collective name "Parliament-Funkadelic."
By this time the original ten-member lineup of Parliament-Funkadelic had begun to splinter, but many others joined for various album releases by either band, leading to a collective with a fluid and rapidly expanding membership. Notable members to join during this period include keyboardist Bernie Worrell, bassist Bootsy Collins, guitarist Garry Shider, and The Horny Horns.
In the 1975-1979 period, both Parliament and Funkadelic achieved several high-charting albums and singles on both the R&B and Pop charts. Many members of the collective began to branch out into side bands and solo projects under George Clinton's tutelage, including Bootsy's Rubber Band, Parlet, and The Brides of Funkenstein, while longtime members like Eddie Hazel recorded solo albums with songwriting and studio help from the collective. The Parliament albums of this period had become concept albums with themes from science fiction and afro-futurism, elaborate political and sociological themes, and an evolving storyline with recurring fictional characters. Parliament-Funkadelic stage shows (particularly the P-Funk Earth Tour of 1976) were expanded to include imagery from science fiction and a stage prop known as the Mothership. These concepts came to be known as the P-Funk mythology. Fanart Banner