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Sly and the Family Stone

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  • Sly and the Family Stone

  • Sly and the Family Stone

  • Sly and the Family Stone

  • Sly and the Family Stone

  • Sly and the Family Stone


Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

Group Members: Larry Graham, Rose Stone, Sly Stone, Dennis Marcellino and Mark Stefani

All Music Guide:

Sly & the Family Stone harnessed all of the disparate musical and social trends of the late '60s, creating a wild, brilliant fusion of soul, rock, R&B, psychedelia, and funk that broke boundaries down without a second thought. Led by Sly Stone, the Family Stone was comprised of men and women, and blacks and whites, making the band the first fully integrated group in rock's history. That integration shone through the music, as well as the group's message. Before Stone, very few soul and R&B groups delved into political and social commentary; after him, it became a tradition in soul, funk, and hip-hop. And, along with James Brown, Stone brought hard funk into the mainstream. The Family Stone's arrangements were ingenious, filled with unexpected group vocals, syncopated rhythms, punchy horns, and pop melodies. Their music was joyous, but as the '60s ended, so did the good times. Stone became disillusioned with the ideals he had been preaching in his music, becoming addicted to a variety of drugs in the process. His music gradually grew slower and darker, culminating in 1971's There's a Riot Going On, which set the pace for '70s funk with its elastic bass, slurred vocals, and militant Black Power stance. Stone was able to turn out one more modern funk classic, 1973's Fresh, before slowly succumbing to his addictions, which gradually sapped him of his once prodigious talents. Nevertheless, his music continued to provide the basic template for urban soul, funk, and even hip-hop well into the '90s.

Sly Stone (born Sylvester Stewart, March 15, 1944) and his family moved from his home state of Texas to San Francisco in the '50s. He had already begun to express an interest in music, and when he was 16, he had a regional hit with "Long Time Away." Stone studied music composition, theory, and trumpet at Vallejo Junior College in the early '60s; simultaneously, he began playing in several groups on the Bay Area scene, often with his brother Fred. Soon, he had become a disc jockey at the R&B station KSOL, later switching to KDIA. The radio appearances led to a job producing records for Autumn Records. While at Autumn, he worked with a number of San Franciscan garage and psychedelic bands, including the Beau Brummels, the Great Society, Bobby Freeman, and the Mojo Men.

During 1966, Stone formed the Stoners, which featured trumpeter Cynthia Robinson. Though the Stoners didn't last long, he brought Robinson along as one of the core members of his next group, Sly & the Family Stone. Formed in early 1967, the Family Stone also featured Fred Stewart (guitar, vocals), Larry Graham, Jr. (bass, vocals), Greg Errico (drums), Jerry Martini (saxophone), and Rosie Stone (piano), who all were of different racial backgrounds. The group's eclectic music and multiracial composition made them distinctive from the numerous flower-power bands in San Francisco, and their first single, "I Ain't Got Nobody," became a regional hit for the local label Loadstone. The band signed with Epic Records shortly afterward, releasing their debut album, A Whole New Thing, by the end of the year. The record stiffed, but the follow-up, Dance to the Music, generated a Top Ten pop and R&B hit with its title track early in 1968. Life followed later in 1968, but the record failed to capitalize on its predecessor's success. "Everyday People," released late in 1968, turned their fortunes back around, rocketing to the top of the pop and R&B charts and setting the stage for the breakthrough success of 1969's Stand!

Featuring "Everyday People," "Sing a Simple Song," "Stand," and "I Want to Take You Higher," Stand! became the Family Stone's first genuine hit album, climbing to number 13 and spending over 100 weeks on the charts. Stand! also marked the emergence of the political bent in Stone's songwriting ("Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey"), as well as the development of hard-edged, improvisational funk like "Sex Machine." The Family Stone quickly became known as one of the best live bands of the late '60s, and their performance at Woodstock was widely hailed as one of the festival's best. The non-LP singles "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" b/w "Everybody Is a Star" became hits, reaching number two and number one respectively in late 1969/early 1970. Both singles were included on Greatest Hits, which became a number two record upon its fall 1970 release. While the group was at the height of its popularity, Sly was beginning to unravel behind the scenes. Developing a debilitating addiction to narcotics, Stone soon became notorious for arriving late for concerts, frequently missing the shows all together.

Stone's growing personal problems, as well as his dismay with the slow death of the civil rights movement and other political causes, surfaced on There's a Riot Goin' On. Though the album shot to number one upon its fall 1971 release, the record -- including "Family Affair," Stone's last number one single -- was dark, hazy, and paranoid, and his audience began to shrink slightly. During 1972, several key members of the Family Stone, including Graham and Errico, left the band; they were replaced by Rusty Allen and Andy Newmark, respectively. The relatively lighter Fresh appeared in the summer of 1973, and it went into the Top Ten on the strength of the Top Ten R&B hit "If You Want Me to Stay." Released the following year, Small Talk was a moderate hit, reaching number 15 on the charts and going gold, but it failed to generate a big hit single. High on You, released in late 1975 and credited only to Sly Stone, confirmed that his power and popularity had faded. "I Get High on You" reached the R&B Top Ten, but the album made no lasting impact.

Disco had overtaken funk in terms of popularity, and even if Sly wanted to compete with disco, he wasn't in shape to make music. He had become addicted to cocaine, his health was frequently poor, and he was often in trouble with the law. His recordings had slowed to a trickle, and Epic decided to close out his contract in 1979 with Ten Years Too Soon, a compilation of previously released material that had the original funky rhythm tracks replaced with disco beats. Stone signed with Warner Brothers that same year, crafting the comeback effort Back on the Right Track with several original members of the Family Stone, but the record was critically panned and a commercial failure. In light of the album's lack of success, Stone retreated even further, eventually joining forces with George Clinton on Funkadelic's 1981 album The Electric Spanking of War Babies. Following the album's release, Stone toured with Clinton's P-Funk All-Stars, which led him to embark on his own tour, as well as a stint with Bobby Womack. The culmination of this burst of activity was 1983's Ain't but the One Way, an album that was ignored. Later that year, Stone was arrested for cocaine possession; the following year, he entered rehab.

Stone appeared on Jesse Johnson's 1986 R&B hit "Crazay." The following year, he dueted with Martha Davis on "Love & Affection" for the Soul Man soundtrack; he also he recorded "Eek-a-Bo-Static," a single that didn't chart. Stone was arrested and imprisoned for cocaine possession by the end of 1987, and he was never able to recover from the final arrest. Stone continued to battle his addiction, with varying degrees of success. By his 1993 induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he had disappeared from public view. Avenue Records gave Stone a recording contract in 1995, but nothing would be recorded.


Sly and the Family Stone was an American band from San Francisco. Active from 1967 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, multi-gender" lineup.

Brothers Sly Stone and singer/guitarist Freddie Stone combined their bands (Sly & the Stoners and Freddie & the Stone Souls) in 1967. Sly and Freddie Stone, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, drummer Gregg Errico, saxophonist Jerry Martini, and bassist Larry Graham comprised the original lineup; Sly and Freddie's sister, singer/keyboardist Rose Stone, joined within a year. They recorded five Billboard Hot 100 hits which reached the top 10, and four ground-breaking albums, which greatly influenced the sound of American pop, 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 and 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". 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. Sly Stone continued to record albums and tour with a new rotating lineup under the "Sly and 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.

^ Henderson, Lol; Stacey, Lee, eds. (2013). "Rock Music". Encyclopedia of Music in the 20th Century. Routledge. ISBN 1-5795-8079-3. ^ "Sly and the Family Stone". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. Retrieved May 20, 2010. ^ Errico's first name is Greg, but it was spelled Gregg on all Sly and the Family Stone releases.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. xi.^ Cite error: The named reference ErlewineSly was invoked but never defined (see the help page).^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. xi–xix.


Career1.1 Early years1.1.1 Sound, philosophies, and influence1.2 Stand! (1969)1.3 Internal problems and a change of direction1.4 1970–1971 interregnum1.5 There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)1.6 Fresh (1973) and Small Talk (1974)1.7 Dissolution


Sly Stone was a member of a deeply religious middle-class household from Dallas, 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. 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.

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 and a disc jockey for San Francisco R&B radio station KSOL, where he included white performers such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in 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. Stewart recorded unsuccessful solo singles while at Autumn.

Early years[edit]

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, and Ronnie Crawford on saxophone. At the suggestion of Stone's friend, saxophonist Jerry Martini, Sly and Freddie combined their bands, creating Sly and the Family Stone in March 1967. 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 and the Family Stone's background vocalists.

After a gig at the Winchester Cathedral, a night club in Redwood City, CA, CBS Records executive David Kapralik signed the group to CBS's Epic Records label. The Family Stone's first album, A Whole New Thing, was released in 1967 to critical acclaim, particularly from musicians such as Mose Allison and Tony Bennett. However, the album's low sales restricted their playing venues to small clubs, and caused Clive Davis and the record label to intervene. Some musicologists believe the Abaco Dream single "Life And Death In G & A", recorded for A&M Records in 1967 and peaking at #74 in September 1969, was performed by Sly and the Family Stone.

Davis talked Sly into writing and recording a record, and he and the band reluctantly provided the single "Dance to the Music". Upon its February 1968 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. 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.

The Dance to the Music album went on to decent sales, but the follow-up, Life, was not as successful commercially . In September 1968, the band embarked on its first overseas tour, to England. It was cut short after Graham was arrested for possession of marijuana and because of disagreements with concert promoters.

Sound, philosophies, and influence[edit]

Sly Stone had produced for and performed with black and white musicians 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 and 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. 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. 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. 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!"

The lyrics for the band's songs were often pleas for peace, love, and understanding among people. These calls against prejudice and self-hate were underscored by the band's on-stage appearance. Caucasians Gregg Errico and Jerry Martini were members of the band at a time when integrated performance bands were virtually unknown; 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. 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 impact of that single and the Dance to the Music and Life albums reverberated 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. Some musicians changed their sound completely to co-opt that of Sly and 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. The early work of Sly and the Family Stone was also a significant influence on the music of Michael Jackson & The Jackson 5 and soul/hip-hop groups such as George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic, Arrested Development, and The Black Eyed Peas.

Stand! (1969)[edit]

In late 1968, Sly and the Family Stone released the single "Everyday People", which became their first #1 hit. "Everyday People" was a protest against prejudice of all kinds and popularized the catchphrase "different strokes for different folks." 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 eventually sold more than three million copies; its title track peaked at #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 was 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 and the Family Stone a performance slot at the landmark Woodstock Music and Art Festival. They 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. A new non-album single, "Hot Fun in the Summertime", was released the same month and went to #2 on the U.S. pop chart (peaking in October, after the summer of 1969 had already ended). In 1970, following the release of the Woodstock 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[edit]

With the band's new-found fame and success came numerous problems. Relationships within the band were deteriorating; there was friction in particular between the Stone brothers and Larry Graham. Epic requested more marketable output. The Black Panther Party demanded that Sly replace Gregg Errico and Jerry Martini with black instrumentalists and fire manager David Kapralik.

After moving to the Los Angeles area in fall 1969, Sly Stone and his fellow band members became heavy users of illegal drugs, primarily cocaine and PCP. As the members became increasingly focused on drug use and partying (Sly Stone carried a violin case filled with illegal drugs wherever he went), 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. "Thank You" reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1970.

1970–1971 interregnum[edit]

In 1970, Sly Stone spent most of his waking hours on drugs. He became erratic and moody, and missed nearly a third of the band's concerts that year. The band did close out the Strawberry Fields Festival near Toronto, Ontario in August but live appearances on television talk shows such as The Mike Douglas Show and The Dick Cavett Show went unpredictably. Meanwhile, Sly hired his streetwise cohorts, 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. A rift developed between Sly and the rest of the band; in early 1971, drummer 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, who 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 the first popular recording to feature the use of a drum machine for its rhythm track.

There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)[edit]

In 1971, Sly and 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 There's a Riot Goin' On. The album 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 an urban blues, filled with dark instrumentation, filtered drum machine tracks, and plaintive vocals representing the hopelessness Sly and many other people were feeling in the early 1970s. The album is characterized by a significant amount of tape hiss – the result of Sly's extensive re-recording and overdubbing during production. 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. "(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. 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. 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 and the Family Stone. Graham was replaced in the interim by Bobby Womack, and then by nineteen-year-old Rusty Allen.

Fresh (1973) and Small Talk (1974)[edit]

Despite the loss of the original rhythm section and Sly's escalating cocaine use, the band's next album, Fresh, was released in 1973. By this time, Sly's sound had become more stripped down, yet more syncopated and rhythmically complex. Sly obsessively overdubbed the masters, as he had done with Riot. 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. The first Small Talk single, "Time For Livin'", became the band's final Top 40 hit single. "Loose Booty", the second single, peaked at No. 84.


During the 1970s, Sly or one of the band members would often miss the gig, refuse to play, or pass out from drug use. This had an adverse effect on their ability to demand money for live bookings; live bookings also declined as a result. At many gigs, concert-goers rioted if the band failed to appear or if Sly walked out before finishing his set. Ken Roberts became the group's promoter, and later their general manager, when other representatives wouldn't work with the band because of their erratic attendance. 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. Following the Radio City engagement, the band was dissolved.

Rose Stone was pulled out of the band by Bubba Banks, who was 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. Little Sister was also dissolved; Mary McCreary married Leon Russell and worked with him on music projects. Andy Newmark became a successful session drummer, playing with Roxy Music, B. B. King, Steve Winwood and others.

^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 1–4.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 12.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 8–9.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 88; interview with Elva "Tiny" Moulton.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 59–60; interviews with David Kapralik and Jerry Martini.^ Fotenot, Robert. Profile: Sly and the Family Stone. About.com. Retrieved on 2007-01-18.^ Top Pop Singles 1955–1999. Joel Whitburn. 2000. Record Research Inc. p. 3. ISBN 0-89820-139-X^ Santiago, Eddie. (2008) Sly: The Lives of Sylvester Stewart and Sly Stone. ISBN 1-4357-0987-X, 9781435709874. page 70.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 60; interview with Jerry Martini.^ "Sly and the Family Stone: Billboard Singles". All Media Guide, LLC. 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-26. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas . Review for Life by Sly and the Family Stone. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 68; interview with Jerry Martini.^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas . Sly and the Family Stone. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-01-18.^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas . Review for Stand! by Sly and the Family Stone. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-02-05.^ Williams and Romanowski (1988), pp. 138–139. Williams discusses Sly and 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.^ Sly and the Family Stone (performers), Sylvester Stewart (author). (1968). Dance to the Music (Vinyl recording). New York: Epic/CBS Records.^ Vincent, Rickey (1996). Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-312-13499-1. ^ Kaliss, Jeff. Sly and the Family Stone: 'Different strokes for different folks.' There1.com. Retrieved on 2007-01-18^ Ankeny, Jason. "Larry Graham". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-02-01. ^ "The Temptations". 1989 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1989. Archived from the original on November 23, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-23. ^ 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 and the Family Stone and the 5th Dimension.'" * Erlewine, Stephen Thomas . Sly and 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.^ Greenwald, Matthew. Review of "Everyday People" by Sly and the Family Stone. Allmusic.com. Retrieved on 2007-02-03.^ Lewis, Miles (2006), p. 57.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 107, 146–152.^ Lewis, Miles (2006), pp. 24–25.^ Lewis, Miles (2006), p. 85.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 89; interview with David Kapralik.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 94–98.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 122.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 113–115.^ Aswad, Jem (February 10, 2006). "Who, Exactly, Is Sly Stone? (That Weird Guy with the Mohawk at the Grammys)". MTV. Retrieved 2006-02-11. ^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 120–122.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 99–100, 150–152.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 146–147.^ Lewis, Miles (2006), p. 74.^ Lewis, Miles (2006), pp. 74–75.^ Marcus, Greil (1997) [1975]. Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock'n'Roll Music (4 ed.). New York: Plume. p. 72. ISBN 0-452-27836-8. ^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 115–117.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 115; interview with Stephen Paley.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 134.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 150–154.^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Review for Fresh by Sly and the Family Stone. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-01-18.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 164–167.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 174.^ Sly and the Family Stone: Billboard Singles. All Media Guide, LLC. (2006). Retrieved on 2007-02-04.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 141–145.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 186–189.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 188–191.^ Ankeny, Jason. Leon Russell. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-02-05.^ Credits for Andy Newmark. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-02-05.

Later impact and influence[edit]

The work of the later version of Sly and 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. Herbie Hancock was inspired by Sly's new funk sound to move towards a more electric sound with his material, resulting in Head Hunters (1973). Miles Davis was similarly inspired by the band and worked with Sly Stone on his recordings, resulting in On the Corner; the sartorial and band lineup changes hallmarked jazz fusion. Artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince, Chuck D, and John Mayer have also shown significant inspiration from the post-1970 work of Sly and the Family Stone.

^ Cite error: The named reference ErlewineSly was invoked but never defined (see the help page).^ Rosen, Dave. Review for There's a Riot Goin' On. Ink Blot Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-01-18^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Review for Head Hunters by Herbie Hancock. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-01-18.^ Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 163.^ Kaliss, Jeff. Sly and the Family Stone: 'Different strokes for different folks.' There1.com. 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 and the Family Stone are mentioned in this article. The other artists listed are among those who participated in the 2006 Sly and the Family Stone tribute album Different Strokes by Different Strokes, and discuss their participation in the podcast.

Sly Stone's later career[edit]

Main article: Sly Stone

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 and 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 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 signed with Warner Bros. 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. When Sly disappeared into self-seclusion, producer Stewart Levine completed the album, which was released as Ain't But the One Way in 1982. The album sold poorly and received mixed critical reception, but Sly made an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman that year. Overcome by drug addictions, Sly Stone disappeared from the limelight and entered drug rehabilitation in 1984, at the insistence of his old friend Bobby Womack. Sly continued sporadically releasing new singles and collaborations until a 1987 arrest and conviction for cocaine possession and use. Afterwards, he stopped releasing music.

In 1992, Sly and the Family Stone appeared on the Red Hot Organization's dance compilation album, Red Hot + Dance, contributing an original track,"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (Todds CD Mix)." The album attempted to raise awareness and money in support of the AIDS epidemic, and all proceeds were donated to AIDS charities.

On August 16, 2011, the album I'm Back! Family & Friends was released. The album features re-recorded versions of Sly and the Family Stone's greatest hits with guest appearances from Jeff Beck, Ray Manzarek, Bootsy Collins, Ann Wilson, Carmine Appice, and Johnny Winter, as well as three previously unreleased songs.

One month later, on September 25, 2011, the New York Post reported that Sly Stone was now homeless and living out of a white camper-van in Los Angeles: "The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where 'Boyz n the Hood' was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house."

^ Cite error: The named reference ErlewineSly was invoked but never defined (see the help page).^ Birchmeier, Jason. Review of Ain't But the One Way by Sly and the Family Stone. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-02-04.^ Wilkinson, Peter (February 24, 2006). "Sly's Strange Comeback". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-01-23. ^ Alkema, Willem. "Funk legend Sly Stone homeless and living in a van in LA". New York Post. Retrieved July 23, 2012. 

Awards and tributes[edit]

Sly and the Family Stone were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. The original members of the Family Stone were in attendance, except Sly. Just as the band took the podium to receive their awards, Sly suddenly appeared. He accepted his award, made some very brief remarks ("See you soon"), and disappeared from public view. In December 2001, Sly and the Family Stone were 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.

A Sly and 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 ("Everyday People"), John Legend, Joss Stone & Van Hunt ("Family Affair"); the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am ("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 (Faletinme Be Mice Elf Again)") was released on February 7, 2006. The version of "Family Affair" won the 2007 R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Grammy.

The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2007.

2006 Grammy Awards tribute[edit]

A Sly and 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 and 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.

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"; will.i.am performing "Dance to the Music"; and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith with Robert Randolph performing "I Want to Take You Higher".

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 much less complimentary: "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." Another AP report stated that "nineteen years after his last live performance, Sly Stone proved he's still able to steal the show."

^ Bradbury, Andrew Paine (August 18, 2005). "Sly Stone Joins Family". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-11-14. ^ "The Immortals: The First Fifty". Rolling Stone Issue 946. Retrieved 2007-02-16. ^ 49th Annual Grammy Awards Winners List. Grammy.com. Retrieved on 2007-02-17.^ Sly and the Family Stone in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame^ Coyle, Jake (February 8, 2006). "Reclusive Sly Stone Steps Out at Grammys". MSN.com. Retrieved 2007-02-01. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2006). Review of the Sly and the Family Stone compilation tribute album Different Strokes by Different Folks. Allmusic.com. Retrieved on 2007-02-01.^ Aswad, Jem (February 10, 2006). "Who, Exactly, Is Sly Stone? (That Weird Guy with the Mohawk at the Grammys)". MTV. Retrieved 2006-02-11. ^ Associated Press (February 9, 2006). "Sly Stone Steals Show At Grammys". CBS5.com. Archived from the original on June 26, 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 


This listing features the lineup from 1967 to 1975. After 1975, the lineup changed with each of the last four Sly and 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) (1967–1975): vocals, organ, guitar, bass guitar, piano, harmonica, and moreFreddie Stone (Frederick Stewart) (1967–1975): vocals, guitarCynthia Robinson (1967–1975): trumpet, vocal ad libsJerry Martini (1967–1975): saxophoneLittle Sister; Vet Stone (Vaetta Stewart), Mary McCreary, and Elva Mouton (1966–1975): background vocalsLarry Graham (1967–1972): vocals, bass guitarGregg Errico (1967–1971): drumsRose Stone (Rosemary Stewart) (1968–1975): vocals, piano, electric pianoGerry Gibson (1971–1972): drums; replaced Gregg ErricoPat Rizzo (1972–1975): saxophoneMax Kerr (1972): bass; gigging stand-in between Larry Graham and Rusty AllenRustee Allen (1972–1975): bass; replaced Larry GrahamAndy Newmark (1973–1974): drums; replaced Gerry GibsonBill Lordan (1974): drums; replaced Andy NewmarkSid Page (1973–1974): violinVicki Blackwell (1974–1975): violinJim Strassburg (1974): drums; replaced Bill LordanAdam Veaner (1975): drums; replaced Jim StrassburgDennis Marcellino (1975): saxophone; replaced Pat Rizzo


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eMusic Features


Icon: Sly and The Family Stone

By Michelangelo Matos, Contributor

Maybe the most startling thing about Sly & the Family Stone's peak is how short it was. A mere four years elapsed from the Bay Area funk-rock septet's debut, A Whole New Thing, to the radical masterpiece, There's a Riot Goin 'On, which was recorded mostly by Sly alone. Granted, this arc coincided with the greatest mass-societal changes of 20th-century America, but it tells us plenty about Stone's singularity nevertheless. As a top-rated Bay Area DJ… more »


Icon: Sly and The Family Stone

By Michelangelo Matos, Contributor

Maybe the most startling thing about Sly & the Family Stone's peak is how short it was. A mere four years elapsed from the Bay Area funk-rock septet's debut, A Whole New Thing, to the radical masterpiece, There's a Riot Goin 'On, which was recorded mostly by Sly alone. Granted, this arc coincided with the greatest mass-societal changes of 20th-century America, but it tells us plenty about Stone's singularity nevertheless. As a top-rated Bay Area DJ… more »


Six Degrees of Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On

By J. Edward Keyes, Editor-in-Chief

It used to be easier to pretend that an album was its own perfectly self-contained artifact. The great records certainly feel that way. But albums are more permeable than solid, their motivations, executions and inspirations informed by, and often stolen from, their peers and forbearers. It all sounds awfully formal, but it's not. It's the very nature of music — of art, even. The Six Degrees features examine the relationships between classic records and five… more »


Six Degrees of Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On

By J. Edward Keyes, Editor-in-Chief

It used to be easier to pretend that an album was its own perfectly self-contained artifact. The great records certainly feel that way. But albums are more permeable than solid, their motivations, executions and inspirations informed by, and often stolen from, their peers and forbearers. It all sounds awfully formal, but it's not. It's the very nature of music — of art, even. The Six Degrees features examine the relationships between classic records and five… more »

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  • 02.07.15 RT @NovenaCarmel: Me n my daddy on Saturday at the Love City convention. Winning smile$ 😁 http://t.co/0VZAlDcrRC
  • 01.29.15 RT @FredStoneCisum: He's my brother and he heavy. #StoneCisum #SlyStone #FamilyAffair #SlyAndTheFamilyStone @FoxOakland 2015 http://t.co/PG…
  • 12.10.13 Learned to play chess. Ibelieve my game fits my personal style. any two players that u know i will beat at least one of them 4/4
  • 06.23.13 When I realized that something.must be done and theres nothing I can I had to do somethin cause I cant do nuthin again
  • 01.27.13 RT @NovenaCarmel: Dad aka Sly Stone. Saturday, January 26th, 2013. Folks ask me how he's doing all the time... How's he look? http://t.c ...
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  • 07.25.12 RT @derekgtaylor: @NelsonGeorge @HigherSlyStone @NovenaCarmel #findingthefunk #familyaffair http://t.co/8E4DgNH2
  • 06.26.12 I don't like the word happiness anymore.
  • 01.08.12 we look gooood! RT @NovenaCarmel me, my dad, and a few ninja turtles http://t.co/DoxSot6K
  • 01.04.12 It's not the teaching, it's the learning.