Larry Graham

Last updated

Larry Graham
Larry Graham.jpg
Graham in 2011
Background information
Birth nameLarry Graham Jr.
Born (1946-08-14) August 14, 1946 (age 73)
Beaumont, Texas, U.S.
Genres Funk, soul, R&B
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, producer
InstrumentsVocals, bass, guitar, keyboards, organ, harmonica
Years active1961–present
Labels Epic, Warner Bros., NPG, Rhino, Sphinx
Associated acts Sly and the Family Stone, Prince, Graham Central Station, Drake
Website larrygraham.com

Larry Graham Jr. (born August 14, 1946) is an American bassist and singer, both with the psychedelic soul/funk band Sly and the Family Stone, and as the founder and frontman of Graham Central Station. [1] He is credited with the invention of the slapping technique on the electric bass guitar, which radically expanded the tonal palette of the bass, although he himself refers to the technique as "thumpin' and pluckin'". [2]

Contents

Life and career

Born in Beaumont, Texas, United States, [1] to successful musicians, Graham played bass in the funk band Sly and the Family Stone from 1966 to 1972. It is said that he pioneered the art of slap-pop playing on the electric bass, in part to provide percussive and rhythmic elements in addition to the notes of the bass line when his mother decided to no longer have a drummer in her band, while Graham also admits in a BBC documentary on funk music that he is unsure if it was done on economical grounds [3] ; the slap of the thumb being used to emulate a bass drum and the pop of the index or middle finger as a snare drum. [2] This style has become archetypal of modern funk. Slap-pop playing couples a percussive thumb-slapping technique of the lower strings with an aggressive finger-snap of the higher strings, often in rhythmic alternation. The slap and pop technique incorporates a large ratio of muted or "dead" notes to normal notes, which adds to the rhythmic effect.

This "slap" bass style was later used by such artists as Bootsy Collins (P-Funk), Bernard Edwards (Chic), Louis Johnson, [4] Mark King, Keni Burke, Victor Wooten, Kim Clarke of Defunkt, Marcus Miller, and Stanley Clarke.

After Sly and the Family Stone, Graham formed his own band Graham Central Station. The name is a pun on Grand Central Station, the train station located in Manhattan, New York City. Graham Central Station had several hits in the 1970s, including "Hair".

In the mid-1970s, Larry Graham worked with Betty Davis, the second ex-wife of jazz legend Miles Davis. Betty Davis' band included members of the Tower of Power horns and the Pointer Sisters, and she recorded three albums to critical acclaim but limited commercial success.

In 1975, Graham became a member of Jehovah's Witnesses. [5] Eventually, he was credited with introducing Prince to the faith. In the early 1980s, Graham recorded five solo albums and had several solo hits on the R&B charts. His biggest hit was "One in a Million You", a crossover hit, which reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980.

He reformed Graham Central Station in the early 1990s and performed with the band for several years during which they released two live albums. One was recorded in Japan in 1992, and the other, recorded in London in 1996, had only 1000 copies printed and was exclusively sold at concerts.

In 1998, he recorded a solo album under the name Graham Central Station GCS 2000 . It was a collaboration between Larry Graham and Prince. While Graham wrote all the songs, except one co-written by Prince, the album was co-arranged and co-produced by Prince, and most of the instruments and vocals were recorded by both Graham and Prince. Graham also played bass on tours with Prince from 1997 to 2000. He appeared in Prince's 1998 VHS Beautiful Strange and 1999 DVD Rave Un2 the Year 2000 . He has since appeared with Prince at various international venues.

Graham and Graham Central Station performed internationally with a world tour in 2010 and the "Funk Around The World" international tour in 2011. He appeared as a special guest at Jim James' "Rock N' Soul Dance Party Superjam" at the 2013 Bonnaroo Music Festival.[ citation needed ]

Graham is the father of singer-songwriter and producer Darric Graham. He is also the uncle of Canadian rapper and actor Aubrey Drake Graham, better known as Drake. [6]

Discography

With Sly and the Family Stone

With Graham Central Station

Solo albums

All Warner Bros. releases
NPG Records release
Self-released

Singles

YearTitleAlbum U.S. Hot 100 U.S. R&B UK Singles Chart [7]
1974"Can You Handle It?" ('70s hits as Graham Central Station) Graham Central Station 49
1975"Your Love" Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It 38
1975"It's Alright" Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It 92
1976"The Jam" Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It 63
1980"One in a Million You"One in a Million You91
1980"When We Get Married"One in a Million You769
1981"Guess Who"Just Be My Lady69
1981"Just Be My Lady"Just Be My Lady674
1982"Don't Stop When You're Hot"/
"Sooner or Later"
Sooner or Later102
110
16
27
54
1983"I Never Forget Your Eyes"Victory34

Related Research Articles

Funk is a music genre that originated in African-American communities in the mid-1960s when musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul music, jazz, and rhythm and blues (R&B). Funk de-emphasizes melody and chord progressions and focuses on a strong rhythmic groove of a bassline played by an electric bassist and a drum part played by a drummer, often at slower tempos than other popular music. Like much of African-inspired music, funk typically consists of a complex groove with rhythm instruments playing interlocking grooves that created a "hypnotic" and "danceable feel". Funk uses the same richly colored extended chords found in bebop jazz, such as minor chords with added sevenths and elevenths, or dominant seventh chords with altered ninths and thirteenths.

<i>The Electric Spanking of War Babies</i> 1981 studio album by Funkadelic

The Electric Spanking of War Babies is the 13th studio album by the American funk band Funkadelic, released in April 1981 on Warner Bros. Records. The title is an allusion to the Vietnam War and baby boomers. Sly Stone contributed to the recording sessions, singing lead vocals on "Funk Gets Stronger ".

Sly and the Family Stone American band

Sly and the Family Stone was an American band from San Francisco. Active from 1966 to 1983, it was pivotal in the development of funk, soul, rock, and psychedelic music. Its core line-up was led by singer-songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone, and included Stone's brother and singer/guitarist Freddie Stone, sister and singer/keyboardist Rose Stone, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, drummer Greg Errico, saxophonist Jerry Martini, and bassist Larry Graham. It was the first major American rock group to have a racially integrated, male and female lineup.

Sly Stone American musician

Sly Stone is an American musician, songwriter, and record producer who is most famous for his role as frontman for Sly and the Family Stone, playing a critical role in the development of soul, funk, rock, and psychedelia in the 1960s and 1970s.

Slapping (music) Musical technique

Slapping and popping are ways to produce percussive sounds on a stringed instrument. It is primarily used on the double bass or bass guitar. Slapping on bass guitar involves using the edge of one's knuckle, where it is particularly bony, to quickly strike the string against the fretboard. On bass guitars, this is commonly done with the thumb, while on upright bass, the edge of the hand or index finger may be used. Popping refers to pulling the string away from the fretboard and quickly releasing it so it snaps back against the fretboard. On bass guitar, the two techniques are commonly used together in alternation, though either may be used separately.

Graham Central Station

Graham Central Station was an American funk band named after founder Larry Graham. The name is a pun on New York City's Grand Central Terminal, often colloquially called Grand Central Station.

Guitar solo

A guitar solo is a melodic passage, instrumental section, or entire piece of music written for a classical guitar, electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. In 20th and 21st century traditional music and popular music such as blues, swing, jazz, jazz fusion, rock and metal, guitar solos often contain virtuoso techniques and varying degrees of improvisation. Guitar solos on classical guitar, which are typically written in musical notation, are also used in classical music forms such as chamber music and concertos.

Everyday People single

"Everyday People" is a 1968 song composed by Sly Stone and first recorded by his band, Sly and the Family Stone. It was the first single by the band to go to number one on the Soul singles chart and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. It held that position on the Hot 100 for four weeks, from February 9 to March 8, 1969, and is remembered as one of the most popular songs of the 1960s. Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song of 1969.

<i>Stand!</i> 1969 studio album by Sly and the Family Stone

Stand! is the fourth album by soul/funk band Sly and the Family Stone, released on May 3, 1969. Written and produced by lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone, Stand! is considered an artistic high-point of the band's career. Released by Epic Records, just before the group's celebrated performance at the Woodstock festival, it became the band's most commercially successful album to date. It includes several well-known songs, among them hit singles, such as "Sing a Simple Song", "I Want to Take You Higher", "Stand!", and "Everyday People". The album was reissued in 1990 on compact disc and vinyl, and again in 2007 as a remastered numbered edition digipack CD with bonus tracks and, in the UK, as only a CD with bonus tracks.

Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band band

Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band is an American soul and funk band. Formed in the early 1960s, they had the most visibility from 1967 to 1973 when the band had 9 singles reach Billboard's pop and/or rhythm and blues charts, such as "Do Your Thing", "Till You Get Enough", and "Love Land". They are best known for their biggest hit on Warner Bros. Records, 1970's "Express Yourself", a song that has been sampled by rap group N.W.A and others.

Cynthia Robinson was an American musician, best known for being the trumpeter and vocalist in Sly and the Family Stone. Her voice and presence were featured in the hit "Dance to the Music".

Rustee Allen is an American musician best known as the bass guitar player for the influential funk band Sly and the Family Stone from 1972 to 1975. Allen replaced founding Family Stone member Larry Graham, who was forced out of the band and went on to start his own, Graham Central Station.

<i>Dance to the Music</i> (Sly and the Family Stone album) 1968 studio album by Sly and the Family Stone

Dance to the Music is the second studio album by funk/soul band Sly and the Family Stone, released April 27, 1968 on Epic/CBS Records. It contains the Top Ten hit single of the same name, which was influential in the formation and popularization of the musical subgenre of psychedelic soul and helped lay the groundwork for the development of funk music.

Dance to the Music (song) 1968 single by Sly and the Family Stone

"Dance to the Music" is a 1967 hit single by soul/funk/rock band Sly and the Family Stone for the Epic/CBS Records label. It was the first single by the band to reach the Billboard Pop Singles Top 10, peaking at #8 and the first to popularize the band's sound, which would be emulated throughout the black music industry and dubbed "psychedelic soul". It was later ranked #223 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The Time (band) American funk and dance-pop ensemble

The Time, also known as Morris Day and the Time and The Original 7ven, is an American musical group that was created in Minneapolis in 1981 by Prince. Their work has been a part of the formation of the Minneapolis sound, featuring a mix of soul music and dance music with funk, rock n roll, and more. Led by singer-songwriter Morris Day, the band members are known for having been close Prince associates, and are arguably the most successful artists who have worked with him, achieving particular popularity with R&B fans with tracks such as "Jerk Out" and "Jungle Love". Former members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis went on to a prominent production career after they left the band in 1983, while Day and guitarist Jesse Johnson recorded solo material in addition to their work with the Time.

Louis Johnson (bassist) American musician

Louis Johnson was an American bass guitarist. Johnson was best known for his group The Brothers Johnson and his session playing on several hit albums of the 1970s and 1980s, including the best selling album of all time, Thriller.

<i>Come 2 My House</i> 1998 studio album by Chaka Khan

Come 2 My House is the ninth studio album by American R&B/funk singer Chaka Khan released on the NPG Records label in 1998.

<i>GCS 2000</i> 1998 studio album by Graham Central Station

GCS 2000 is a studio album by funk group Graham Central Station released on July 21, 1998, on NPG Records. It was their first new album in America since 1979's Star Walk.

<i>Graham Central Station</i> (album) 1974 studio album by Graham Central Station

Graham Central Station is the self-titled debut album by former Sly and the Family Stone bass player Larry Graham's new band, "Graham Central Station".

"Sooner or Later" is a song recorded by American guitarist, singer-songwriter and music producer Larry Graham. The song, written and produced by Larry Graham, was released in 1982 by Warner Bros. Records. The song is included in his album of the same name.

References

  1. 1 2 Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 539. ISBN   1-85227-745-9.
  2. 1 2 "Larry Graham: Trunk of the Funk Tree", Bass Player magazine, April 2007.
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KI5anltI2eA
  4. "George Johnson". Andresmusictalk.wordpress.com. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
  5. Awake! magazine, February 22, 1989, p. 15.
  6. A.J. Miller (June 17, 2011). "Larry Graham Talks about his family ties to Drake with Lenny Green" via YouTube.
  7. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 233. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.