Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sly and the Family Stone

Promotional photo of Sly & the Family Stone fo...Image via Wikipedia
Sly and the Family Stone was a rock band from the San Francisco Bay Area active from 1966 to 1983, who were pivotal in the development of American soul, funk, and psychedelic music. 
Led by singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist 'Sly Stone', and containing several family members and friends, they were the first major band to have a multicultural lineup that brought us hit singles like "Dance to to the Music", "I ain't got Nobody". "Everyday People", and "Family Affair".
In the beginning, The Family Stone were actually the Stewart Family, a deeply religious household from Dallas, Texas,  held together by K.C. and Alpha Stewart who indoctrinated their five children into the 'Church of God in Christ', and encouraged strong musical expression at an early age.
In the early 1950's, the family moved to Vallejo,California where Sylvester, Freddie, Rose, and Vaetta formed "The Stewart Four", and released a local 78 RPM with singles 'On the Battlefield of the Lord', and 'Walking in Jesus' Name'.
The oldest child Sylvester started a high school doo-wap band called 'The Viscaynes', where he and a Filipino friend were the only NON-white members.  In 1963 Sylvester became 'Sly Stone', a disc jockey for San Francisco R&B radio station KSOL.  He also produced for "Autumn Records' and helped launch such area bands as 'The Beau Brummels', 'The Mojo Men', and ' Bobby Freeman'.
By 1966 Sly and brother Freddie had formed separate bands, but quickly decided to merge them into one act, which became 'Sly and the Family Stone' in 1967.  Together with trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, drummer Greg Errico, saxophonist Jerry Martini, bass guitarist Larry Graham, and both Stewart sisters Rose and Vaetta...Sly, Freddie and the Family Stone released their first hit single "I ain't got Nobody'.
 Following its success, 'CBS Records" executive 'Clive Davis' signed them to the "Epic" label, which produced the Family Stone's first album 'A Whole New Thing'.  1968 brought thier ground breaking hit single "Dance to the Music", which reached #8 on the 'Billboard Hot 100'.
Sly and the Family Stone then took on American and world tours, having become well known for thier energetic performances, unique costuming, and psychedelic rock, soul, and funk music.  Those sounds became a melting pot of influences and cultures that touched the likes of 'James Brown', 'The Isley Brothers', 'Diana Ross and The Supreme's, 'The Temptations', 'Michael Jackson', 'George Clinton', 'Arrested Development', and 'The Black Eyed Peas', among others.
Following their 1969 smash hit "Everyday People", the album 'Stand', and an appearance at the famous 'Woodstock Music Festival', Sly and the Family Stone ran into numerous problems, including friction and deteriorating relationships within the band.
After moving to Los Angeles, Sly and his fellow band members became heavy drug users of cocaine and PCP, and over the next two years... they produced just two singles, "Thank You(FalettinMe Be Mice Elf Agin)" and "Everybody is a Star".
Sly's drug addiction caused him to miss a third of the band's concerts in 1970, which signaled the group's eventual demise, however,  not before releasing the hit "Family Affair" in 1971, and the album "There's a Riot Goin' on".  Drummer Greg Errico was the first to go followed by Stewart sister Rose, Greg Martini, and brother Freddie, who joined Larry Graham's group 'Graham Central Station'.
Despite losing his original rhythm section, Sly released the album "Fresh" in 1973, followed by "Small Talk" in 1974, however, Sly's sound had become more stripped down and complex.  During this time he and others would often miss gigs, refuse to play, or even pass out on stage from drug use.
Finally, in January 1975, after playing at the famous 'Radio City Music Hall' which was only one-eighth occupied, the band was forced to literally scrape together enough cash to get home. Sly and the Family Stone dissolved the next day.
Nevertheless, Sly and the Family Stone's matured, funk sound inspired superstars like 'Miles Davis', 'Stevie Wonder', 'Prince', 'Chuck D', and 'Herbie Hancock'.  Sly would go on to record five more albums including 'Back on the Right Track', before entering seclusion and drug rehabilitation in 1984.  Following a 1987 arrest and conviction for cocaine possession, Sly Stone stopped releasing music for good.
In 1993, Sly and the Family Stone were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a special Tribute album called 'Different Strokes for Different Folks' was released in 2005.  The next year brought a special tribute and trophy for  the band at the Grammy Awards Ceremony, where Slly and the group appeared and performed with fellow celebrities.
MTV news called the performance "weird", while the Associated Press labeled it "epic"...with Sly Stone 'still able to steal the show'!  Either way, there will never be another band quite like Sly and the Family Stone, who's sound will live on and on. 
Thanks so much,
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment