Sly & the Family Stone

Sly & the Family Stone

Infobox musical artist 2
Name = Sly & the Family Stone
Background = group_or_band

Img_capt=Sly & the Family Stone in 1969. Clockwise from top: Larry Graham, Freddie Stone, Gregg Errico, Sly Stone, Rose Stone, Cynthia Robinson, and Jerry Martini. A similar photograph was used as the cover of "Rolling Stone" #54 (March 19 1970).
Origin = San Francisco, California, USA
Genre = Funk
Years_active = 1966–1975, 1976–1983
Label = Epic, Warner Bros.
Associated_acts = Little Sister
URL = []
Past_members = Sly Stone
Freddie Stone
Rose Stone
Cynthia Robinson
Gregg Errico
Jerry Martini
Larry Graham

Vet Stone
Mary McCreary
Elva Mouton
Gerry Gibson
Rusty Allen
Pat Rizzo
Andy Newmark
Bill Lordan
Vicki Blackwell
Jim Strassburg

Sly & the Family Stone is an American funk, soul and rock band from San Francisco, California. Originally active from 1966 [ [ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] and [ Sly Stone Book] ] to 1983, the band was pivotal in the development of soul, funk, and psychedelic music. Headed by singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone, and containing several of his family members and friends, the band was the first major American rock band to have an integrated lineup in both race and gender.cite web | title = Sly & the Family Stone | work = 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees | publisher = Rock and Roll Hall of Fame | year= 1993 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-17 ]

Brothers Sly and singer/guitarist Freddie Stone combined their bands ("Sly & the Stoners" and "Freddie & the Stone Souls") at the end of 1966. Sly and Freddie Stone, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, drummer Gregg Errico, saxophonist Jerry Martini, and bassist Larry Graham completed the original lineup; Sly and Freddie's sister, singer/keyboardist Rose Stone, joined within a year. This collective recorded five Top 10 hits and four groundbreaking albums, which greatly influenced the sound of American pop music, soul, R&B, funk, and hip hop music. In the preface of his 1998 book "For the Record: Sly and the Family Stone: An Oral History", Joel Selvin sums up the importance of Sly & the Family Stone's influence on African American music by stating "there are two types of black music: black music before Sly Stone, and black music after Sly Stone".Selvin, Joel (1998), p. xi.] The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

During the early 1970s, the band switched to a grittier funk sound, which was as influential on the music industry as their earlier work. The band began to fall apart during this period because of drug abuse and ego clashes; consequently, the fortunes and reliability of the band deteriorated, leading to its dissolution in 1975. [Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. xi-xix.] Sly Stone continued to record albums and tour with a new rotating lineup under the "Sly & the Family Stone" name from 1975 to 1983. In 1987, Sly Stone was arrested and sentenced for cocaine use, after which he went into effective retirement.

As of 2008, Sly & the Family Stone had reunited for a series of shows beginning with several dates at the House of Blues in Anaheim and West Hollywood, California.


Early years

The Stewart family was a deeply-religious middle-class household from Denton, Texas. K.C. and Alpha Stewart held the family together under the doctrines of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and encouraged musical expression in the household. [Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 1–4.] After the Stewarts moved to Vallejo, California, the youngest four children (Sylvester, Freddie, Rose, and Vaetta) formed "The Stewart Four", who released a local 78 rpm single, "On the Battlefield of the Lord" b/w "Walking in Jesus' Name", in 1952. The eldest sister, Loretta, was the only Stewart child not to pursue a musical career.

While attending high school, Sylvester and Freddie joined student bands. One of Sylvester's high school musical groups was a doo-wop act called The Viscaynes, in which he and a Filipino teenager were the only non-white members. The Viscaynes released a few local singles, and Sylvester recorded several solo singles under the name "Danny Stewart".

By 1964, Sylvester had become Sly Stone, a disc jockey for San Francisco R&B radio station KSOL, where he included white performers such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones into his playlists. During the same period, he worked as a record producer for Autumn Records, producing for San Francisco-area bands such as The Beau Brummels and The Mojo Men. One of the Sylvester Stewart-produced Autumn singles, Bobby Freeman's "C'mon and Swim", was a national hit record. [Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 12.] Stewart recorded unsuccessful solo singles while at Autumn. [Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 8–9.]


In 1966, Sly Stone formed a band called "Sly & the Stoners", which included acquaintance Cynthia Robinson on trumpet. Around the same time, Freddie founded a band called "Freddie & the Stone Souls", which included Gregg Errico on drums. At the suggestion of Stone's friend, saxophonist Jerry Martini, Sly and Freddie combined their bands, creating Sly & the Family Stone at the end of 1966. Since both Sly and Freddie were guitarists, Sly appointed Freddie the official guitarist for the Family Stone, and taught himself to play the electronic organ. Meanwhile, Sly recruited Larry Graham to play bass guitar.

Vaetta Stewart wanted to join the band as well. She and her friends, Mary McCreary and Elva Mouton, had a gospel group called "The Heavenly Tones". Sly recruited the teenagers directly out of high school to become Little Sister, Sly & the Family Stone's background vocalists. [Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 88; interview with Elva "Tiny" Moulton.] CBS Records executive David Kapralik signed the group to CBS' Epic Records label. The Family Stone's first album, "A Whole New Thing", was released in october 1967 to critical acclaim, particularly from musicians such as Mose Allison and Tony Bennett. Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 59–60; interviews with David Kapralik and Jerry Martini.]

Kapralik suggested that Sly try to write and record a hit record, and he and the band reluctantly provided the single "Dance to the Music".Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 60; interview with Jerry Martini.] Upon its december 1967 release, "Dance to the Music" became a widespread ground-breaking hit, and was the band's first charting single, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Sly & the Family Stone: Billboard Singles | work = | publisher = All Media Guide, LLC. | year= 2006 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-01-26 ] Just before the release of "Dance to the Music", Rose Stone joined the group as a vocalist and a keyboardist. Rose's brothers had invited her to join the band from the beginning, but she initially had been reluctant to leave her steady job at a local record store.Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 60; interview with Jerry Martini.]

Sly & the Family Stone began to tour across the country, and were well-known for their energetic performances and unique costuming.Kaliss, Jeff. " [ Sly and the Family Stone: 'Different strokes for different folks.'] " "". Retrieved on 2007-01-18.] The "Dance to the Music" album went on to decent sales, but the follow-up, "Life", was not as successful commercially .Erlewine, Stephen Thomas . [ Review for "Life" by Sly & the Family Stone] . "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-01-17.] In September 1968, the band embarked on its first overseas tour, to England. That tour was cut short after Graham was arrested for possession of marijuana, and also because of disagreements with concert promoters. [Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 68; interview with Jerry Martini.]

Sound, philosophies, and influence of early years

Sly Stone had produced for and performed with both blacks and whites during his early career, and he integrated music by white artists into black radio station KSOL's playlist as a D.J. Similarly, the Sly & the Family Stone sound was a melting pot of many influences and cultures, including James Brown proto-funk, Motown pop, Stax soul, Broadway showtunes, and psychedelic rock music. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas . " [ Sly & the Family Stone] ". All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-01-18.] Wah-wah guitars, distorted fuzz basslines, church-styled organ lines, and horn riffs provided the musical backdrop for the vocals of the band's four lead singers.Erlewine, Stephen Thomas . [ Review for "Stand!" by Sly & the Family Stone] . "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-02-05.] Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Larry Graham, and Rose Stone traded off on various bars of each verse, a style of vocal arrangement unusual and revolutionary at that time in popular music.Williams and Romanowski (1988), pp. 138–139. Williams discusses Sly & the Family Stone's impact on the R&B industry, and how the group's multiple lead vocals and psychedelic sound inspired "Cloud Nine" and other such Temptations recordings.] Cynthia Robinson shouted ad-libbed vocal directions to the audience and the band; for example, urging everyone to "get on up and 'Dance to the Music'" and demanding that "all the squares go home!" [Sly & the Family Stone (performers), Sylvester Stewart (author). (1968). "Dance to the Music" (Vinyl recording). New York: Epic/CBS Records.]

The lyrics for the band's songs were usually pleas for peace, love, and understanding among people. These rallies against vices such as racism, discrimination, and self-hate were underscored by the lineup for and onstage appearance of the band. European Americans Gregg Errico and Jerry Martini were members of the band at a time when integrated performance bands were virtually unheard of; integration had only recently become enforced by law. Females Cynthia Robinson and Rosie Stone played instruments onstage, rather than just providing vocals or serving as visual accompaniment for the male members." [ Sly and the Family Stone] ". "". Retrieved on 2007-01-18.] The band's gospel-styled singing endeared them to black audiences; their rock music elements and wild costuming—including Sly's large Afro and tight leather outfits, Rose's blond wig, and the other members' loud psychedelic clothing—caught the attention of mainstream audiences.

Although "Dance to the Music" was the band's only hit single until late 1968, the influences of that single and the "Dance to the Music" and "Life" albums were heard across the music industry. The smooth, piano-based "Motown sound" was out; "psychedelic soul" was in. Rock-styled guitar lines similar to the ones Freddie Stone played began appearing in the music of artists such as The Isley Brothers ("It's Your Thing") and Diana Ross & the Supremes ("Love Child"). Larry Graham invented the "slapping" technique of bass guitar playing, which became synonymous with funk music.cite web | last = Ankeny | first = Jason | title = Larry Graham | publisher = All Music Guide | year= 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2007-02-01 ] Some musicians changed their sound completely to co-opt that of Sly & the Family Stone, most notably Motown in-house producer Norman Whitfield, who took his main act The Temptations into "psychedelic soul" territory starting with the Grammy-winning "Cloud Nine" in 1968.cite web | title = The Temptations | work = 1989 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees | publisher = Rock and Roll Hall of Fame | year= 1989 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-23 ] The early work of "Sly & the Family Stone" was also a significant influence on the music of Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, The Undisputed Truth, George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic, Arrested Development, and The Black Eyed Peas. [Planer, Lindsay. [ Review for "Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5" by The Jackson 5] . "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-01-18.
* Liner notes from "Smiling Faces: The Best of Undisputed Truth". New York: Universal/Motown Records. Excerpt: "'Undisputed Truth was one of Motown's boldest acts. They were the brainchild of legendary producer Norman Whitfield, who described them as 'a perfect cross between Sly & the Family Stone and the 5th Dimension.'"
* Erlewine, Stephen Thomas . " [ Sly & the Family Stone] ". "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-01-18. Sly Stone later toured and recorded with Funkadelic in the late 1970s/early 1980s
* Huey, Steve. " [ Arrested Development] ". "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-01-18.

"Stand!" (1969)

In late 1968, Sly & the Family Stone released the single "Everyday People," which became the band's first number-one hit. "Everyday People" was a protest against prejudices of all kinds, [Greenwald, Matthew. " [ Review of "Everyday People" by Sly & the Family Stone] ". Retrieved on 2007-02-03.] and popularized the catch phrase "different strokes for different folks."Kaliss, Jeff. " [ Sly and the Family Stone: 'Different strokes for different folks.'] " "". Retrieved on 2007-01-18] With its b-side "Sing a Simple Song", it served as the lead single for the band's fourth album, "Stand!", which was released on May 3, 1969. The "Stand!" album became the band's first top twenty hit record and eventually sold more than three million copies; its title track peaked at number 22 in the U.S. "Stand!" is considered one of the artistic high points of the band's career; it contained the above three tracks as well as the songs "I Want to Take You Higher", which also appeared on the b-side of the "Stand!" single, "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey", "Sex Machine", and "You Can Make It If You Try".

The success of "Stand!" secured Sly & the Family Stone a performance slot at the landmark Woodstock Music and Art Festival. The band performed their set during the early-morning hours of August 17 1969; their performance was said to be one of the best shows of the festival. [Fotenot, Robert. " [ Profile: Sly & the Family Stone] ". "". Retrieved on 2007-01-18.] A new non-album single, "Hot Fun in the Summertime"/"Fun," was released the same month and went to number two on the U.S. pop charts (peaking in October, after the summer of 1969 had already ended). In 1970, following the release of the "Woodstock" film documentary, the single of "Stand!" and "I Want to Take You Higher" was reissued with the latter song now the a-side; it reached the Top 40.

Internal problems and a change of direction

With the band's newfound fame and success came numerous problems. Relationships within the band were deteriorating; there was friction in particular between the Stone brothers and Larry Graham. [ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 107, 146–152] Epic requested more product. The Black Panther Party demanded that Sly make his music more militant and more reflective of the black power movement, replace Greg Errico and Jerry Martini with black instrumentalists, and replace manager David Kapralik. [ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 89; interview with David Kapralik.]

After moving to the Los Angeles area in fall 1969, Sly Stone and his bandmates became heavy users of illegal drugs, primarily cocaine and PCP. [Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 94–98] As the members became increasingly focused on drug use and partying (Sly Stone carried a violin case filled with illegal drugs wherever he went), [Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 122] recording slowed significantly. Between summer 1969 and fall 1971, the band released only one single, "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" / "Everybody Is a Star", released in December 1969. Although "Star" was another positive song in the vein of "Everyday People," the single's lead side featured an angry, bitter Sly & the Family Stone, who declared in unison that they could no longer pretend to be something they were not (peaceful, loving, and happy) and disrespectfully thanked the audience "for letting me be myself again." [ Hoskyns, Barney (2006-03-26). " [,,1927427,00.html Looking at the Devil] ". "Guardian Unlimited". Jan. 23, 2007.] "Thank You" reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1970.

1970–1971 interim

In 1970, Sly Stone spent most of his waking hours on drugs.Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 113–115] He became erratic and moody, and missed nearly a third of the band's concerts that year.cite news| last=Aswad| first=Jem| date=2006-02-10 | url= | title= Who, Exactly, Is Sly Stone? (That Weird Guy With The Mohawk At The Grammys)|| accessdate= 2006-02-11] Live appearances on television talk shows such as "The Mike Douglas Show" and "The Dick Cavett Show" went unpredictably. [Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 120–122] Meanwhile, Sly hired his streetwise friends, Hamp "Bubba" Banks and J.B. Brown, as his personal managers; they in turn brought in gangsters such as Edward "Eddie Chin" Elliott and Mafioso J.R. Valtrano to be Sly's bodyguards. Sly enlisted these individuals to handle his business dealings, to retrieve drugs, and to protect him from those he considered his enemies, some of whom were his own bandmates and staff. [Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 99–100, 150–152] A rift developed between Sly and the rest of the band; [Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 146–147] in early 1971, drummer Gregg Errico became the first to leave the band for other ventures. He was replaced with a succession of drummers until Sly settled on Gerry Gibson. Gibson only remained with the band for a year before being replaced by Andy Newmark in 1973.

To appease fan demand for new songs, Epic began re-releasing material. "A Whole New Thing" was reissued with a new cover, and several of the Family Stone's most popular recordings were packaged into the band's first "Greatest Hits" album. "Greatest Hits" reached number two on The Billboard 200 in 1970.

During this period, Sly Stone negotiated a production deal with Atlantic Records, resulting in his own imprint, Stone Flower Productions. Stone Flower released four singles, including one by R&B artist Joe Hicks, one by a group called 6IX, and two pop Top 40/R&B Top 10 singles by Little Sister: "You're the One" and "Somebody's Watching You", a cover of a song from "Stand!". For unclear reasons, Sly gradually withdrew his attention from Stone Flower, and the label was closed in 1971. Little Sister's "Somebody's Watching You" is one of the first popular recordings to feature the use of a drum machine for its rhythm track. [Stewart, Vaetta. " [ Introduction to Sly's Lil Sis Site] ". "Sly's Lil Sis/Little Sister Website". Retrieved on 2007-01-18.]

"There's a Riot Goin' On" (1971)

In the fall of 1971, Sly & the Family Stone returned with a new single, "Family Affair", which became a number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100. "Family Affair" was the lead single from the band's long-awaited fifth album, "There's a Riot Goin' On", which debuted at number-one on the "Billboard" album charts upon its November 1971 release. Instead of the bright, cheery rock-laced soul that had represented the optimistic 1960s, "There's a Riot Goin' On" was filled with dark instrumentation, filtered drum machine tracks, and plaintive vocals representing the hopelessness many people were feeling in the early 1970s. [" [ Sly and the Family Stone] ". "". Retrieved on 2007-01-18.] The album is characterized by a significant amount of tape hiss - the result of Sly's extensive re-recording and overdubbing during production. [ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 115–117] Allegedly, most of the album's instrumentation is performed by Sly alone, who enlisted the Family Stone for some of the additional instrumental parts and friends such as Billy Preston, Ike Turner, and Bobby Womack for others. [Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 115; interview with Stephen Paley.] "(You Caught Me) Smilin'" and "Runnin' Away" were also released as singles, and performed well on the charts.

After the release of "Riot", additional lineup changes took place. In early 1972, Jerry Martini inquired to Sly and his managers about monies due to him; saxophonist Pat Rizzo was hired as a potential replacement for Martini if he ever became suspicious of the band's business practices again.Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 134] Both Rizzo and Martini remained in the band. Later that year, the tension between Sly Stone and Larry Graham reached its peak. A post-concert brawl broke out between Graham's entourage and Sly's entourage; Bubba Banks and Eddie Chin, having heard that Larry had hired a hit man to kill Sly, assaulted Graham's associates.Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 150–154] Graham and his wife climbed out of a hotel window to escape, and Pat Rizzo gave them a ride to safety. Unable to continue working with Sly, Graham immediately quit the Family Stone and went on to start Graham Central Station, a successful band in the same vein as Sly & the Family Stone. After a brief period with Bobby Womack as a stand-in bass player, Graham's place in the band was filled by nineteen-year-old Rusty Allen.

"Fresh" (1973) and "Small Talk" (1974)

Despite the loss of the original rhythm section and Sly's escalating cocaine use, the next Sly & the Family Stone album, "Fresh", was released in 1973. By this time, Sly's sound had become more stripped down and used less instrumentation, yet was more syncopated and rhythmically complex.Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. [ Review for "Fresh" by Sly & the Family Stone] . "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-01-18.] Sly obsessively overdubbed the masters, as he had done with "Riot". [Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 164–167.] Although the record received mixed reviews at its release and did not receive the attention that the band's earlier work had, "Fresh" has become recognized as one of the most important funk albums ever made. Rose Stone sang lead on a gospel-styled cover of Doris Day's "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)", and the single "If You Want Me to Stay" became a Top 20 hit in the U.S.

Its follow-up, "Small Talk", was released in 1974 to mixed reviews and low sales. [Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 174 ] [ [ Sly & the Family Stone: Billboard Singles] . All Media Guide, LLC. (2006). Retrieved on 2007-02-04.] The first "Small Talk" single, "Time For Livin'", became the band's final Top 40 hit single. "Loose Booty", the second single, peaked at number 84.


Live bookings for Sly & the Family Stone had steadily dropped since 1970, because promoters were afraid that Sly or one of the band members might miss the gig, refuse to play, or pass out from drug use.Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 141–145 ] These issues were regular occurrences for the band during the 1970s, and had an adverse effect on their ability to demand money for live bookings. At many of these gigs, concert-goers rioted if the band failed to show up, or if Sly walked out before finishing his set. Ken Roberts became the group's promoter, and later their general manager, when no other representatives would work with the band because of their erratic gig attendance record. [Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 186–189.] In January 1975, the band booked itself at Radio City Music Hall. The famed music hall was only one-eighth occupied, and Sly and company had to scrape together money to return home.Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 188–191.] Following the Radio City engagement, the band was dissolved.

Rose Stone was pulled out of the band by Bubba Banks, who was by then her husband. She began a solo career, recording a Motown-style album under the name Rose Banks in 1976. Freddie Stone joined Larry Graham's group, Graham Central Station, for a time; after collaborating with his brother one last time in 1979 for "Back on the Right Track", he retired from the music industry and eventually became the pastor of the Evangelist Temple Fellowship Center in Vallejo, California. Little Sister was also dissolved; Mary McCrary married Leon Russell and worked with him on music projects. [Ankeny, Jason. " [ Leon Russell] ". "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-02-05.] Andy Newmark became a successful session drummer, playing with Roxy Music, B. B. King, Steve Winwood and others. [ [ Credits for Andy Newmark] . "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-02-05.]

Impact and influence of later material

The work of the later version of Sly & the Family Stone was as influential as the band's early work. "There's a Riot Goin' On", "Fresh", and "Small Talk" are considered among the first and best examples of the matured version of funk music, after prototypical instances of the sound in the band's 1960s work. [Rosen, Dave. Review for "There's a Riot Goin' On". "Ink Blot Magazine". The band had a huge impact on The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Retrieved from m on 2007-01-18] Jazz musician Herbie Hancock was inspired by Sly's new funk sound to move towards a more electric sound with his material, [Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. [ Review for "Head Hunters" by Herbie Hancock] . "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-01-18.] resulting in "Head Hunters" (1973). Miles Davis was similarly inspired by Sly & the Family Stone, resulting in changes to his sound heard on the record "On the Corner" and sartorial and band lineup changes that hallmarked jazz fusion. [Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 163] Artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Prince, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chuck D, John Mayer and John Butler of the John Butler Trio have also shown significant inspiration from the post-1970 work of Sly & the Family Stone.Kaliss, Jeff. " [ Sly and the Family Stone: 'Different strokes for different folks.'] " "". Retrieved on 2007-01-18 [ "Different Strokes by Different Folks"] [audio podcast—2 episodes] . New York: Sony Music Entertainment. Retrieved on 2007-01-18. Michael Jackson, Prince, and Stevie Wonder's inspirations from Sly & the Family Stone are mentioned in this article. The other artists listed are among those who participated in the 2006 Sly & the Family Stone tribute album "Different Strokes by Different Strokes", and discuss their participation in the podcast.]

Sly's later career

Sly recorded two more albums for Epic: "High on You" (1975) and "Heard You Missed Me, Well I'm Back" (1976). "High On You" was billed as a Sly Stone solo album; "Heard You Missed Me" was a Sly & the Family Stone album in name only. Although Sly continued to collaborate with some of the original Family Stone members on occasion, the actual band no longer existed. Sly played most of the instruments on the record himself; he maintained a band to support him for live shows. Among his main collaborators were Cynthia Robinson and Pat Rizzo from the Family Stone, and background vocalists Lynn Mabry and Dawn Silva, who parted with Sly in 1976 and formed The Brides of Funkenstein in 1978. Epic released Stone from his contract in 1977, and in 1979 released "10 Years Too Soon", a remix album featuring disco versions of the 1960s Family Stone hits.

Sly was signed by Warner Bros. Records and recorded "Back On The Right Track" (1979). Although the album featured contributions from Freddie and Rose Stone, Sly remained unable to return to the success of his late '60s and early '70s fame. He toured with George Clinton and Funkadelic during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and also appeared on the 1981 Funkadelic album "The Electric Spanking of War Babies". That year, Clinton and Sly began work on a new Sly Stone album; however, recording halted when Clinton and Funkadelic disputed with and left Warner Bros. Records in late 1981.Birchmeier, Jason. " [ Review of "Ain't But the One Way" by Sly & the Family Stone] ". "All Music Guide". Retrieved on 2007-02-04.] When Sly disappeared into self-seclusion, producer Stewart Levine completed the album, which was released as "Ain't But the One Way" in 1983. The album sold poorly and received mixed critical reception. Overcome by drug addictions, Sly Stone disappeared from the limelight and, at the insistence of his old friend Bobby Womack,cite news | last = Wilkinson | first = Peter | title = Sly's Strange Comeback | publisher = Rolling Stone | date = 2006-02-24 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-23] entered drug rehabilitation in 1984. Sly continued sporadically releasing new singles and collaborations until a 1987 arrest and conviction for cocaine possession and use. After being released from prison, Sly stopped releasing music altogether.


Since the mid-1990s, various Family Stone members have collaborated on projects with other members of the band. On May 25 1997, Sinbad's Soul Music Festival was held in Aruba. One of the performances reunited four members of the Family Stone: Larry Graham, Rose Stone, Cynthia Robinson, and Jerry Martini. Robinson and Martini joined Graham Central Station when Larry Graham revived it later that same year, and the band toured with Prince, a noted admirer of Sly & the Family Stone. On her own, Rose Stone provided guest vocals to Fishbone's 2000 cover of "Everybody Is a Star", which also features vocals by Gwen Stefani. The cover was included on the album "Fishbone & the Familyhood Nextperience Present: The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx", released on March 21, 2000.

In 2003, the members of the original Family Stone, except Sly Stone and Larry Graham, reunited to record a sixteen-song studio album. By 2005, Vet Stone, Cynthia Robinson, and Rose Stone's daughter Lisa Stone were in a band simply called "Family Stone", whose debut album is being produced by Sly Stone. The band was formerly called "Phunk Phamily Affair" and was renamed by Sly in December 2005. Jerry Martini also maintained a band called FamilyStoneExperience. Several Sly & The Family Stone alumni joined the tour, including Greg Errico, Cynthia Robinson, Dawn Silva, and Gail Muldrow. FamilyStoneExperience joined several festivals with James Brown and George Clinton. Both acts served to carry on the legacy of Sly & the Family Stone, and performed both Family Stone songs and original material as parts of their respective repertoires.

Following the Grammy performance, Rose Stone, Cynthia Robinson, and Jerry Martini decided the time was right for a reunion tour. Together with modern funk musicians, they took the stage as "The Original Family Stone". [ [ The Original Family Stone: Founding Members of Sly & the Family Stone.] Retrieved on 2007-02-12.] Their tour was scheduled through 2007, and has taken them to over seventy-five cities through Europe and the U.S.

During a series of European dates in July 2007, Sly Stone himself joined the Family Stone on tour, although he only briefly appeared onstage during the performances. [cite web | url= | title=Sly Stone Performance Turns Into Tour] . The line up for the European shows in July included four original members of the "Fresh" era line-up: Sly Stone, Cynthia Robinson, Pat Rizzo, and Sly's sister Vet Stone. During the tour, Sly seemed to improve his performances and a Paris concert was the first one to get positive reviews from critics.

Awards and tributes


Sly & the Family Stone was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. The original founding members of the Family Stone were in attendance, except Sly. Just as the band took the podium to receive their awards, Sly suddenly appeared, to thunderous applause. He accepted his award, gave a quick speech, and disappeared from public view. In December 2001, Sly & the Family Stone was awarded the R&B Foundation Pioneer Award. Two Family Stone songs, "Dance to the Music" and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)", are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 2004, "Rolling Stone" magazine ranked them 43rd on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. [cite web| title = The Immortals: The First Fifty| work = Rolling Stone Issue 946| publisher = Rolling Stone| url =]

A Sly & The Family Stone tribute album, "Different Strokes By Different Folks", was released on July 12, 2005 by Starbucks' Hear Music label. The project features cover versions of the band's songs, songs which sample the original recordings, and songs that do both. The artists included The Roots ("Star", which samples "Everybody Is a Star"), Maroon 5, Arrested Development ("Everyday People"), John Legend, Joss Stone & Van Hunt ("Family Affair"); the Black Eyed Peas' ("Dance to the Music"), and Steven Tyler and Robert Randolph ("I Want to Take You Higher"). Epic Records' version of the tribute album (with two additional covers: "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey" and "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Again)") was released on February 7, 2006. The version of "Family Affair" included on the album won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. [ " [] ". "49th Annual Grammy Awards Winners List". Retrieved on 2007-02-17.]

Sony BMG, the current owners of the Epic Records catalog, commemorated Sly & the Family Stone's 40th anniversary in 2007 by re-issuing the band's first seven albums in limited print runs on compact disc, remastered and expanded with bonus tracks, leaving their late '70s material, still without reissue.Jones, Steve (Apr 10, 2007). " [ New Day for Sly & the Family Stone] ". "USA Today". Digital version retrieved on April 29, 2007.] The remastered albums were made available for purchase both separately and as part of a boxed set entitled "The Collection", and can also be purchased through digital download as well.

Grammy Awards tribute

A Sly & the Family Stone tribute took place at the 2006 Grammy Awards on February 8, 2006. The original plan, to have been a surprise for audiences, was to feature a reunion performance by the original Sly & the Family Stone lineup as the highlight of the tribute. However, the Grammy Award show's producers were worried that Sly Stone, who missed some of the rehearsals and belatedly arrived for others, would miss the show.cite news| last=Coyle| first=Jake| date= 2006-02-08 | url= | title= Reclusive Sly Stone Steps Out at Grammys| | accessdate=2007-02-01]

The tribute began halfway through the Grammy Awards ceremony, and was introduced by comedian Dave Chappelle. It featured Nile Rodgers, Joss Stone, Van Hunt, and John Legend performing "Family Affair"; Fantasia and Devin Lima performing "If You Want Me to Stay"; Adam Levine and Ciara performing "Everyday People"; performing "Dance to the Music"; and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith with Robert Randolph performing "I Want to Take You Higher". [Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2006). " [ Review of the Sly & the Family Stone compilation tribute album "Different Strokes by Different Folks"] . Retrieved on 2007-02-01.]

After the first half of "I Want to Take You Higher", the Family Stone took the stage alongside the other musicians, and Tyler called backstage "Hey, Sly; let's do it the way we used to do it!" Sporting a blonde mohawk hairdo, sunglasses, and a silver lamé suit, Sly Stone emerged and contributed vocals and keyboards to a continuation of "I Want To Take You Higher." Three minutes into the performance, Sly tossed a wave to the audience and exited the stage, leaving the Family Stone and the guest performers to complete the number alone.

Sly's unusual appearance and brief performance garnered highly mixed reviews and was covered throughout the press. An Associated Press report referred to Sly as the "J. D. Salinger of funk" and simply referred to the performance as being "bizarre". MTV News was less positive about the tribute performance: "The Grammy performance—Sly's first with the original Family Stone since 1971—was a halting, confused affair and a complete disservice to his music."cite news| last=Aswad| first=Jem | date= 2006-02-10 | url= | title= Who, Exactly, Is Sly Stone? (That Weird Guy With The Mohawk At The Grammys)| | accessdate= 2006-02-11] Several people, however, were more positive about the performance, including another AP report, which stated that "nineteen years after his last live performance, Sly Stone proved he's still able to steal the show."cite news | author=Associated Press| date= 2006-02-09 | url= | title= Sly Stone Steals Show At Grammys | publisher=| accessdate= 2006-02-12]


This listing features the lineup from 1966 to 1975. After 1975, the lineup changed with each of the last four Sly & the Family Stone LPs. Personnel appearing on these recordings are credited in the individual album articles for "High on You", "Heard You Missed Me, Well I'm Back", "Back on the Right Track", and "Ain't But the One Way".

* Sly Stone (Sylvester Stewart) (1966–1975): vocals, organ, guitar, bass guitar, piano, harmonica, and more
* Freddie Stone (Frederick Stewart) (1966–1975): vocals, guitar
* Larry Graham (1966–1972): vocals, bass guitar
* Rose Stone (Rosemary Stewart) (1968–1975): vocals, piano, electric piano
* Cynthia Robinson (1966–1975): trumpet, vocal ad libs
* Jerry Martini (1966–1975): saxophone
* Gregg Errico (1966–1971): drums
* Little Sister; Vet Stone (Vaetta Stewart), Mary McCreary, and Elva Mouton (1966–1975): background vocals
* Gerry Gibson (1971–1972): drums; replaced Gregg Errico
* Pat Rizzo (1972–1975): saxophone
* Rusty Allen (1972–1975): bass; replaced Larry Graham
* Andy Newmark (1973–1974): drums; replaced Gerry Gibson
* Bill Lordan (1974): drums; replaced Andy Newmark
* Vicki Blackwell (1974–1975): violin
* Jim Strassburg (1974–1975): drums; replaced Bill Lordan


* 1967: "A Whole New Thing"
* 1968: "Dance to the Music"
* 1968: "Life"
* 1969: "Stand!"
* 1970: "Greatest Hits"
* 1971: "There's a Riot Goin' On"
* 1973: "Fresh"
* 1974: "Small Talk"
* 1975: "High on You" (credited only to "Sly Stone")
* 1976: "Heard You Missed Me, Well I'm Back"
* 1979: "Back on the Right Track"
* 1983: "Ain't But the One Way"


The rights to Sly & The Family Stone songs are owned by Michael Jackson and published by MiJac Music.



* Aronowitz, Al (Nov. 1, 2002). [ "The Preacher"] . "The Blacklisted Journal".
* Ankeny, Jason (2005). " [ "Sylvester 'Sly Stone' Stewart"] "" Retrieved March 29, 2005.
* Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2005). [ "Sly & the Family Stone"] . "". Retrieved March 29, 2005.
* Kaliss, Jeff (2008). I Want to Take You Higher: The Life and Times of Sly & the Family Stone. New York: Hal Leonard/Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-879-30934-2.
*Lewis, Miles Marshall (2006). "There's a Riot Goin' On". New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-826-41744-2.
*cite book| last=Selvin | first= Joel| year= 1998| title= For the Record: Sly and the Family Stone: An Oral History | location=New York | publisher= Quill Publishing| id=ISBN 0-380-79377-6
*Williams, Otis and Romanowski, Patricia (1988, updated 2002). "Temptations". Lanham, MD: Cooper Square. ISBN 081-541218-5
* (2003) [ "Sly and the Family Stone"] . "". Retrieved March 29, 2005.
* Edwin & Arno Konings []

External links

* [ Official Sony BMG Sly & the Family Stone website]
*musicbrainz artist|id=b7ec4c54-1f93-4bf2-957f-7b9921ab84ea|name=Sly & the Family Stone
* [ The Family Stone Project]
* [ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame page on Sly & the Family Stone]
* [ SlyAndTheFamilyStone.Net]
* [ "Dance To The Music", upcoming documentary about Sly & the Family Stone]
* [ "", News site on Sly & The family Stone]

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