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 72)
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 bass guitar player and singer, both with the psychedelic soul/funk band Sly and the Family Stone, and as the founder and frontman of Graham Central Station. He is credited with the invention of the slapping technique, which radically expanded the tonal palette of the bass, although he himself refers to the technique as "thumpin' and pluckin'". [1]

The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric or an acoustic guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and typically four to six strings or courses.

Psychedelic soul, sometimes called black rock, is a music genre that emerged in the late 1960s that saw soul musicians embrace elements of psychedelic rock, including its production techniques, instrumentation, effects units and drug influences. It came to prominence in the late 1960s and continued into the 1970s, playing a major role in the development of funk and disco. Pioneering acts included Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and the Temptations. Mainstream acts that developed a psychedelic sound included the Supremes and Stevie Wonder. Acts that achieved notability with the sound included the Chambers Brothers, the 5th Dimension, Edwin Starr, and George Clinton's Funkadelic and Parliament ensembles.

Funk is a music genre that originated in African-American communities in the mid-1960s when African-American 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 bass line 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.

Contents

Life and career

Born in Beaumont, Texas, to successful musicians, Graham played bass in the highly successful and influential 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's band lacked a drummer; 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. [1] 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.

Beaumont, Texas City in Texas, United States

Beaumont is a city in and the county seat of Jefferson County, Texas, in the United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. Located in Southeast Texas on the Neches River about 85 miles (137 km) east of Houston, Beaumont had a population of 117,267 at the time of the 2010 census, making it the thirtieth-most populous city in the state of Texas.

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, 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.

Bass drum percussion instrument

A bass drum, or kick drum, is a large drum that produces a note of low definite or indefinite pitch. A bass drum is typically cylindrical, with the drum's diameter much greater than the drum's depth. There is normally a struck head at both ends of the cylinder. The heads may be made of calf skin or plastic. There is normally a means of adjusting the tension either by threaded taps or by strings. Bass drums are built in a variety of sizes, but size has little to do with the volume produced by the drum. The size chosen being based on convenience and aesthetics. Bass drums are percussion instruments and vary in size and are used in several musical genres. Three major types of bass drums can be distinguished.

This "slap" bass style was later used by such artists as Bootsy Collins (P-Funk), Bernard Edwards (Chic), Louis Johnson, [2] Mark King, Keni Burke, Victor Wooten, Kim Clarke of Defunkt, Marcus Miller, and Stanley Clarke.

Bootsy Collins American musician

William Earl "Bootsy" Collins is an American musician and singer-songwriter.

P-Funk band

P-Funk refers to the repertoire, musical style, and/or group of performers associated with George Clinton. The term is variously known as an abbreviation of Parliament-Funkadelic, Psychedelic Funk, Pure Funk, or Plainfield Funk.

Bernard Edwards was an American bass player, singer, songwriter and record producer, known primarily for his work in disco music with guitarist Nile Rodgers, with whom he co-founded Chic. In 2017, Edwards was selected as the 53rd greatest bassist of all time by Bass Player magazine.

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".

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.

Grand Central Terminal Railway terminal in New York City

Grand Central Terminal is a commuter rail terminal located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Grand Central is the southern terminus of the Metro-North Railroad's Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines, serving the northern parts of the New York metropolitan area. It also contains a connection to the New York City Subway at Grand Central–42nd Street. The terminal is the third-busiest train station in North America, after New York Penn Station and Toronto Union Station.

Manhattan Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

Manhattan, often referred to locally as the City, is the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City and its economic and administrative center, cultural identifier, and historical birthplace. The borough is coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state of New York. The borough consists mostly of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East, and Harlem rivers; several small adjacent islands; and Marble Hill, a small neighborhood now on the U.S. mainland, physically connected to the Bronx and separated from the rest of Manhattan by the Harlem River. Manhattan Island is divided into three informally bounded components, each aligned with the borough's long axis: Lower, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan.

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.

Betty Davis is an American funk and soul singer. She is known as one of the most influential voices of the funk era and a performer who was known for her memorable live shows.

Miles Davis American jazz musician

Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th century music. Davis adopted a variety of musical directions in a five-decade career that kept him at the forefront of many major stylistic developments in jazz.

Tower of Power American soul and funk band

Tower of Power is an American R&B-based horn section and band, originating in Oakland, California, that has been performing since 1968. There have been a number of lead vocalists, the most well-known being Lenny Williams, who fronted the band between early 1973 and late 1974, the period of their greatest commercial success. They have landed a total of eight songs on the Billboard Hot 100; their highest-charting songs include "You're Still a Young Man", "So Very Hard to Go", "What Is Hip?", and "Don't Change Horses ".

In 1975, Graham became a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. [3] 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.

Jehovahs Witnesses Christian denomination

Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The group reports a worldwide membership of approximately 8.58 million adherents involved in evangelism and an annual Memorial attendance of over 20 million. Jehovah's Witnesses are directed by the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, a group of elders in Warwick, New York, which establishes all doctrines based on its interpretations of the Bible. They believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent, and that the establishment of God's kingdom over the earth is the only solution for all problems faced by humanity.

Prince (musician) American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and filmmaker

Prince Rogers Nelson was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor and filmmaker. With a career spanning four decades, Prince was known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, extravagant fashion sense, and wide vocal range. A multi-instrumentalist, he was considered a guitar virtuoso and was also skilled at playing the drums, percussion, bass, keyboards, and synthesizer. Prince pioneered the Minneapolis sound, which is a subgenre of funk rock with elements of synth-pop and new wave, in the late 1970s.

One in a Million You 1980 song performed by Larry Graham

"One in a Million You" is a single by Larry Graham from his album One in a Million You (1980). Graham is the former bass player for Sly & the Family Stone and frontman for Graham Central Station. The ballad reached the top ten on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, peaking at #9 in August 1980 and hit #1 on the R&B chart for two weeks. It became a gold record.

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. [4]

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 [5]
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

<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. It includes many relative newcomers to P-Funk, many of whom remained employed by George Clinton on future releases under his own name or under the name George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars. Sly Stone is a collaborator on this album. Clinton originally planned on this being a double album, but the idea was quashed by Warner Brothers. Some of the deleted tracks appeared on later P-Funk releases, most notably the 1982 hit single "Atomic Dog," which appeared on the first George Clinton solo album, Computer Games. Of all the original group members since Funkadelic's debut album, only George Clinton, Ray Davis, and Eddie Hazel appear on this album. Junie Morrison plays all the instruments on the title track except the guitar solo which was played by Michael Hampton. This was the last Album to feature Eddie Hazel, Ray Davis, Garry Shider, Junie Morrison, Mallia Franklin, and Jessica Cleaves. Also this is the only Funkadelic album the late Roger Troutman appears on as well.

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, a band that played 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 double bass or bass guitar by bouncing strings against the fretboard.

Everyday People single

"Everyday People" is a 1968 song by 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 15 to March 14, 1969, and is remembered as a popular song of the 1960s. Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song of 1969. As with most of Sly and the Family Stone's songs, Sly Stone was credited as the sole songwriter.

<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.

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>A Whole New Thing</i> (Sly and the Family Stone album) 1967 studio album by Sly and the Family Stone

A Whole New Thing is the debut album by funk/soul band Sly and the Family Stone, released in 1967 on Epic/CBS Records. The album was released to mixed criticism and failed to make an impact from a commercial standpoint and did not chart. CBS Records executive Clive Davis prevailed upon band leader Sly Stone to create a more commercial album; the result was the album Dance to the Music. Unlike later Sly and the Family Stone albums, A Whole New Thing was recorded live in the studio instead of being overdubbed and featured less of a pop feel than later releases such as Dance to the Music and Stand!. The lead vocals are shared between Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, and Larry Graham; Rose Stone would not join the band until they began work on Dance to the Music.

<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.

"Sing a Simple Song" is a 1968 song by the soul/funk band Sly and the Family Stone, the B-side to their #1 hit "Everyday People". The song's lyrics, sung in turn by Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Rose Stone, and Larry Graham, with spoken word sections by Cynthia Robinson, offer a simple solution for dealing with the problems and paradoxes of existence : "Sing a simple song!" As with nearly all of Sly and the Family Stone's songs, Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart was credited as the sole songwriter.

<i>Back on the Right Track</i> 1979 studio album by Sly and the Family Stone

Back on the Right Track is the ninth album by Sly and the Family Stone, released by Warner Bros. Records in 1979. The album was, as its title alludes to, an overt comeback attempt for Sly Stone. However, the album and its singles, "Remember Who You Are" and "The Same Thing ", failed to live up to expectations.

<i>Aint but the One Way</i> 1982 studio album by Sly and the Family Stone

Ain't But the One Way is the tenth and final album by Sly and the Family Stone, released by Warner Bros. Records in 1982. The album began its existence as a collaborative project between Sly Stone and George Clinton, a sequel to Stone's appearance on the 1981 Funkadelic album The Electric Spanking of War Babies. While working on Ain't But the One Way, Clinton and Funkadelic quarreled with and eventually left Warner Bros. Records, and Sly Stone went into self-seclusion and could not be found. Producer Stewart Levine was assigned to take control of the project, and do what he could to complete an album. Upon its 1982 release, Ain't But The One Way underperformed and marked the end of Sly Stone's career with Warner Bros. Records.

<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 "Larry Graham: Trunk of the Funk Tree", Bass Player magazine, April 2007.
  2. http://andresmusictalk.wordpress.com/tag/george-johnson/
  3. Awake! magazine, February 22, 1989, p. 15.
  4. A.J. Miller (June 17, 2011). "Larry Graham Talks about his family ties to Drake with Lenny Green" via YouTube.
  5. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 233. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.