For all the myth surrounding Parliament, Funkadelic and George Clinton, the P-Funk mob rise to freaky fame and fortune in the mid-70s was less the result of cosmic slop than a long, hard road of bad deals and slim payoffs made only through relentless persistence. Clinton had been going at it with his doo-wop quartet The Parliaments since 1955, when he formed the vocal group to play school dances and rec center hops. He released his first single in 1958 (it bombed), and auditioned for Berry Gordy's Motown in 1962-- they didn't get signed.
Clinton's one lucky break came when Gordy's wife hired him as a staff songwriter, and even then he was sacked when the Gordy pair split up. However, by the time of Clinton's unfortunate release, The Jackson 5 and Diana Ross recorded a couple of his songs, and he was able to produce some sessions for other artists in Detroit.
By the mid-60s, during the day, Clinton was working at a barbershop, and going to Detroit on the weekends to gig with The Parliaments (by that point, adding a rhythm section). In the summer of 1967, the band released the single "(I Wanna) Testify" on Revilot, and it was their first hit: #20 Pop, #3 R&B.; "Testify" allowed them to quit their day jobs, and the group were soon headlining The Apollo Theater, and touring with rock acts like The Amboy Dukes and Mitch Ryder.