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Sly & The Family Stone

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 N**ger, 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. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Higher!

Disc 1

8. Higher

9. Underdog

10. Bad Risk

11. Let Me Hear It From You

12. Advice

13. If This Room Could Talk

14. I Cannot Make It

15. Trip To Your Heart

16. I Hate To Love Her

17. Silent Communications

19. I Remember

Disc 2

1. What's That Got To Do With Me

2. Fortune And Fame

3. What Would I Do

4. Only One Way Out Of This Mess

5. I Know What You Came To Say

6. Dance To The Music

7. Ride The Rhythm

8. Color Me True

9. Are You Ready

10. Don't Burn Baby

11. We Love All

12. Danse A La Musique

13. Small Fries

14. Chicken

15. Into My Own Thing

16. Life

17. Love City

18. M'lady

19. Dynamite!

20. Undercat

Disc 3

1. Everyday People

2. Sing A Simple Song

3. I Get High On You

4. Wonderful World Of Color (Instrumental)

5. Pressure

6. I Want To Take You Higher

7. Seven More Days

8. Feathers (Instrumental)

9. Somebody's Watching You

10. Sex Machine

11. Hot Fun In The Summertime

12. Everybody Is A Star

13. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

14. Stand! (Live From The Isle Of Wight Festival)

15. You Can Make It If You Try (Live From The Isle Of Wight Festival)

16. Dance To The Music (Live From The Isle Of Wight Festival)

17. I Want To Take You Higher - Music Lover (Live From The Isle Of Wight Festival)

Disc 4

2. Family Affair

6. Spaced Cowboy

8. In Time

9. If You Want Me To Stay

10. Frisky

11. Skin I'm In

12. If It Were Left Up To Me

13. Time For Livin'

14. Can't Strain My Brain

15. Loose Booty

17. Crossword Puzzle

18. Family Again

x

Track List: The Collection (Box Set)

Disc 1

1. Underdog

2. If This Room Could Talk

3. Run Run Run

4. Turn Me Loose

5. Let Me Hear It From You

6. Advice

7. I Cannot Make It

8. Trip To Your Heart

9. I Hate To Love Her

10. Bad Risk

11. That Kind Of Person

12. Dog

Disc 2

1. Dance To The Music

2. Higher

3. I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real)

5. Ride The Rhythm

6. Color Me True

7. Are You Ready

8. Don't Burn Baby

9. I'll Never Fall In Love Again

Disc 3

1. Dynamite

2. Chicken

3. Plastic Jim

4. Fun

5. Into My Own Thing

6. Harmony

7. Life

8. Love City

9. I'm An Animal

10. M'lady

11. Jane Is A Groupee

Disc 4

1. Stand

2. Don't Call Me N**ger, Whitey

3. I Want To Take You Higher

4. Somebody's Watching You

5. Sing A Simple Song

6. Everyday People

7. Sex Machine

8. You Can Make It If You Try

Disc 5

1. Luv N' Haight

2. Just Like A Baby

3. Poet

4. Family Affair

5. Africa Talks To You "The Asphalt Jungle"

7. Brave & Strong

8. (You Caught Me) Smilin'

9. Time

10. Spaced Cowboy

11. Runnin' Away

12. Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa

Disc 6

1. In Time

2. If You Want Me To Stay

3. Let Me Have It All

4. Frisky

5. Thankful N' Thoughtful

6. Skin I'm In

7. I Don't Know (Satisfaction)

8. Keep On Dancin'

9. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)

10. If It Were Left Up To Me

11. Babies Makin' Babies

Disc 7

1. Small Talk

2. Say You Will

3. Mother Beautiful

4. Time For Livin'

5. Can't Strain My Brain

6. Loose Booty

7. Holdin' On

8. Wishful Thinkin'

9. Better Thee Than Me

11. This Is Love

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. I Want To Take You Higher

2. Everybody Is A Star

3. Stand!

4. Life

5. Fun

6. You Can Make It If You Try

7. Dance To The Music

8. Everyday People

9. Hot Fun In The Summertime

10. M'Lady

11. Sing A Simple Song

12. Thank You

x

Track List: In The Still Of The Night

1. In The Still Of The Night

2. Searchin'

3. Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

4. Ain't That Lovin' You Baby

5. Swim

6. Every Dog Has Is Day

7. Suki Suki Pt 1

8. Suki Suki Pt 2

9. Seventh Son

10. I Can't Turn You Loose

11. Take My Advice

12. Watermelon Man

13. If In't Got Nobody

14. If You Were Blue

15. Rock Dirge

16. Hi Love

17. Life Of Fortune And Fame

x

Track List: Anthology

1. Dance To The Music

2. M'lady

3. Life

4. Fun

5. Sing A Simple Song

6. Everyday People

7. Stand!

8. I Want To Take You Higher

10. You Can Make It If You Try

11. Hot Fun In The Summertime

12. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

13. Everybody Is A Star

14. Family Affair

15. Runnin' Away

16. (You Caught Me) Smilin'

17. Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa

18. Babies Makin' Babies

19. If You Want Me To Stay

20. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)

x

Track List: Fresh

1. In Time

2. If You Want Me To Stay

3. Let Me Have It All

4. Frisky

5. Thankful N' Thoughtful

6. Skin I'm In

7. I Don't Know (Satisfaction)

8. Keep On Dancin'

9. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)

10. If It Were Left Up To Me

11. Babies Makin' Babies

x

Track List: There's A Riot Goin' On

1. Luv N' Haight

2. Just Like A Baby

3. Poet

4. Family Affair

6. Brave & Strong

7. (You Caught Me) Smilin'

8. Time

9. Spaced Cowboy

10. Runnin' Away

11. Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa

x

Track List: Stand!

1. Stand!

2. Don't Call me N**ger, Whitey

3. I Want To Take You Higher

4. Somebody's Watching You

5. Sing A Simple Song

6. Everyday People

7. Sex Machine

8. You Can Make It If You Try

x

Track List: Dance To The Music (Remastered)

1. Dance To The Music

2. Higher

3. I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real)

5. Ride The Rhythm

6. Color Me True

7. Are You Ready

8. Don't Burn Baby

9. I'll Never Fall In Love Again

12. Soul Clappin'

13. We Love All

14. I Can't Turn You Loose

Comments

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What's up sweets
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Thank you for letting be myself, again...
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One the old school jam
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pure-dee-fun k


Philly loves You !
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My first crush❤️
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Still the man sly...
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mysteriousst r a n g e r s 8 6
❤❤❤❤❤
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Here i Go Again , ~ " ~ ;
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Here u go
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I saw their last show ever, together. I think it was 2008. Santa Rosa, CA. Sly arrived late, and left early (with all the money), but what a show.
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The best... His stuff is still solid and fun-KKy
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awilayto
For a brief period of time in the late 60's, Sly had the greatest live show evah!
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Love you so much you keep me dancing still miss griffin
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What a talented musical group...one of my old school favorites... . .
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Thanks for all the contribution s you all have made to music! I'll never forget them!
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I can see you dancing in my mind
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nanjerbear
Still THE JAM!!! Can't help but dance in your seat!!
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Trumpet trail blazer Cynthia Robinson has died. She was 71. She helped Sly keep his family stone cold funky. The chorus of angels has a new sound. Big, brassy and fun to move to. God bless and God speed!
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All squares go home...Cynth i a on the throne!!!
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I'm thankful for good old school Funk!
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it's all about where one comes from.....Thi s man comes from a hard life, and yet he still makes music like this.....Goo d on ya Lad.....
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I would love to see a couple rap artist sample this song and do a hip-hop remix of this funky track.
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Sly &The Family Stone ushered in a new approach and style to soul music,Curtis Mayfield,Ste v i e Wonder,Marvi n Gaye,Shuggie Otis,Rick James,right on up to Prince etc
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Was privileged to see Sly and the Family Stone in 69, during my college years, which was more memorable than graduation day. He served us that day...
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This is FUNK SOUL MUSIC 4 real. Thanks sly.
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They encouraged me to STAND
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dkonstantyjr
Life, Heard you missed me? It appears there are more comps than original albums in the selected discography, completely uncalled for.
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dkonstantyjr
Why don't they have A Whole New Thing? Underrated - no, completely unlisted.
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Dance to the music all night long........
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Seen them at a free concert. In the early 70's.
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beautyofnatu r e . l g
Thank You for Lettin' Me Be Myself (to all who do)
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tracypatrick 8
Still remember good music
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Sly is an icon
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Thank you for bringing people of all colors together!
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I want to take u higher
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sat at the roundtable with SLY IN THE c
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This mans music brings back so many really great memories & feelings. Thank you Sly for teaching a young S.F. mission boy to be himself & just enjoy life! Peace to all!
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dragonlady60 8 8
Sly....."!!" ! " ! !!""!
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annvaughn79
Awesome therapy
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annvaughn79
Love this!
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power_jam12
I MET SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE COMING INTO LOVE FIELD AIRPORT IN DALLAS TEXAS WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL MY FONDEST MEMORY
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power_jam12
I'm so THANKFUL THAT SLY HAS RECIEVED SOME JUSTICE DUE!!! GOD IS GREAT AND I'M THANKFUL
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Slythefamily s t 9 n e
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The baddest funk band ever! They took you to church at every concert! I saw them once and once was enough! They were the bomb!!
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Love you allways
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dam songs just bring me back loving it
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immykee
Great funk!
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david.ellis2 3 1
I want to hear sex machine
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If this doesn't get you moving, I don't know what will.
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Pioneers of fusion and funk. Sly is always family!
Show more

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