Sly Stone

Last updated

Sly Stone
Sly and the Family Stone (cropped).jpg
Sly Stone performs with the Family Stone in 2007.
Background information
Birth nameSylvester Stewart
Born (1943-03-15) March 15, 1943 (age 76)
Denton, Texas, U.S.
Genres Funk, psychedelic soul, rock, gospel
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, musician, producer
InstrumentsVocals, organ, guitar, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, harmonica
Years active1952–present
Labels Epic Records, Warner Bros., Cleopatra
Associated acts Joe Piazza and the Continentals, the Viscaynes, Sly and the Family Stone

Sly Stone (born Sylvester Stewart, March 15, 1943) 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. [1]

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.

Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.

Funk genre of music

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.


Raised in California, Stone mastered several instruments at an early age and performed gospel music as a child with siblings (and future bandmates) Freddie and Rose. In the mid-1960s, he worked as both a record producer for Autumn Records and a disc jockey for San Francisco radio station KSOL, In 1966, Stone formed Sly & the Family Stone, among the first racially integrated, male and female acts in popular music. The group would score hits such as "Dance to the Music" (1968), "Everyday People" (1968), and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" (1969), and acclaimed albums such as Stand! (1969) and There's a Riot Goin' On (1971).

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.

Freddie Stone is an American pastor and musician, best known as a co-founder, guitarist, and vocalist in the band Sly and the Family Stone, fronted by his brother Sly and including his sisters Rosie and Vet.

Record producer Individual who oversees and manages the recording of an artists music

A record producer or music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer's music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album. A producer has many, varying roles during the recording process. They may gather musical ideas for the project, collaborate with the artists to select cover tunes or original songs by the artist/group, work with artists and help them to improve their songs, lyrics or arrangements.

By the mid-1970s, Stone's drug problems and erratic behavior effectively ended the group, leaving him to record several unsuccessful solo albums. In 1993, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the group. [2]

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Hall of fame located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a museum and hall of fame located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie, that documents the history of rock music and the artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have influenced its development. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established on April 20, 1983, by Ahmet Ertegun, founder and chairman of Atlantic Records. In 1986, Cleveland was chosen as the Hall of Fame's permanent home, and the museum was dedicated on September 1, 1995.


Early life

The Stewart family was a deeply religious middle-class household from Denton, Texas. Born March 15, 1943, [3] before the family had moved from Denton, Texas to Vallejo, California, in the North Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, Sylvester was the second of the family's five children.

Denton, Texas City in Texas, United States

Denton is a city in and the county seat of Denton County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 113,383, making it the 27th-most populous city in Texas, the 200th-most populous city in the United States, and the 12th-most populous city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.

Vallejo, California City in California, United States

Vallejo is a waterfront city in Solano County, California, located in the North Bay subregion of the San Francisco Bay Area. Vallejo is geographically the closest North Bay city to the inner East Bay, so it is sometimes associated with that region. Its population was 115,942 at the 2010 census. It is the tenth most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the largest in Solano County. Vallejo sits on the northeastern shore of San Pablo Bay, 30 miles north of San Francisco, the northwestern shore of the Carquinez Strait and the southern end of the Napa River, 15 miles south of Napa. The city is named after General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, a native Californio, leading proponent of California's statehood, and one of the first members of the California State Senate; the neighboring city of Benicia is named for his wife, Francisca Benicia Carrillo de Vallejo.

North Bay (San Francisco Bay Area) subregion of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, United States

The North Bay is a subregion of the San Francisco Bay Area, in California, United States. The largest city is Santa Rosa, which is the fifth-largest city in the Bay Area. It is the location of the Napa and Sonoma wine regions, and is the least populous and least urbanized part of the Bay Area. It consists of Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.

As part of the doctrines of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), to which the Stewart family belonged, the parents – K.C and Alpha Stewart – encouraged musical expression in the household. [4] Sylvester and his brother Freddie along with their sisters Rose and Vaetta formed "The Stewart Four" as children, performing gospel music in the Church of God in Christ and even recording a single local release 78 rpm single, "On the Battlefield" b/w "Walking in Jesus' Name", in 1952. The eldest sister, Loretta, was the only Stewart child not to pursue a musical career. All of the other Stewart children would later adopt the surname "Stone" and become members of Sly & the Family Stone.

Church of God in Christ Pentecostal–Holiness Christian denomination

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is a Pentecostal–Holiness Christian denomination with a predominantly African-American membership. The denomination reports having more than 12,000 churches and over 6.5 million members in the United States making it the largest Pentecostal church in the country. The National Council of Churches ranks it as the fifth largest Christian denomination in the U.S.

Vet Stone is an American soul singer.

Sylvester was identified as a musical prodigy. By the time he was seven, Sylvester had already become proficient on the keyboards, and by the age of eleven, he had mastered the guitar, bass, and drums as well. [3] While still in high school, Sylvester had settled primarily on the guitar and joined a number of high school bands. One of these was the Viscaynes, a doo-wop group in which Sylvester and his friend Frank Arellano—who was Filipino—were the only non-white members. The fact that the group was integrated made the Viscaynes "hip" in the eyes of their audiences, and would later inspire Sylvester's idea of the multicultural Family Stone. The Viscaynes released a few local singles, including "Yellow Moon" and "Stop What You Are"; during the same period, Sylvester also recorded a few solo singles under the name Danny Stewart. With his brother, Fred, he formed several short-lived groups, like the Stewart Bros. [5]

The Viscaynes were a doo-wop group from San Francisco (Vallejo) that released a few singles in the early 1960s. They also had a regional hit with the song "Yellow Moon". One of their members Sylvester Stewart, later known as Sly Stone would front the multi-racial group Sly & the Family Stone. They were unique in being one of the very few integrated doo-wop groups of their time.

Doo-wop Style of rhythm & blues

Doo-wop is a genre of rhythm and blues music developed in the 1940s by African American youth, mainly in the large cities of the upper East Coast, including New York. It features vocal group harmony that carries an engaging melodic line to a simple beat with little or no instrumentation. Lyrics are simple, usually about love, ornamented with nonsense syllables, and often featuring, in the bridge, a melodramatically heartfelt recitative addressed to the beloved. Gaining popularity in the 1950s, doo-wop enjoyed its peak successes in the early 1960s, but continued to influence performers in other genres.

Philippines Republic in Southeast Asia

The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Japan to the northeast, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east, and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.

The nickname Sly was a common one for Sylvester throughout his years in grade school. Early on, a classmate misspelled his name "Slyvester," and ever since, the nickname followed him. [3]

In the mid-1960s, Stone worked as a disc jockey for San Francisco, California, soul 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 staff record producer for Autumn Records, producing for San Francisco-area bands such as The Beau Brummels, The Mojo Men, Bobby Freeman, and Grace Slick's first band, The Great Society.

Stone was influential in guiding KSOL-AM into soul music and started calling the station K-SOUL. The second was a popular soul music station (sans the K-SOUL moniker), at 107.7 FM (now known as KSAN). The current KSOL has a different format and is unrelated to the previous two stations. While still providing "music for your mind, body, and your soul" on KSOL, Sly Stone played keyboard for dozens of major performers including Dionne Warwick, Righteous Brothers, Ronettes, Bobby Freeman, George & Teddy, Freddy Cannon, Marvin Gaye, Dick & Dee Dee, Jan & Dean, Gene Chandler, MANY more, and at least one of the three Twist Party concerts by then chart topper Chubby Checker held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1962 and 1963. The concerts were put together by "Big Daddy" Tom Donohue and Bobby Mitchell from the then infamous KYA 1260 AM radio station and largely choreographed by Jerry Marcellino and Mel Larson who went on to produce many Motown artists including Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and some of the top artists of the day.[ citation needed ]

Adopting the stage name "Sly Stone," he then formed "The Stoners" in 1966 which included Cynthia Robinson on trumpet. With her he started his next band, Sly and the Family Stone. Stone, Robinson, and Fred Stewart were joined by Larry Graham, Greg Errico, and Jerry Martini, all of whom had studied music and worked in numerous amateur groups. Working around the Bay Area in 1967, this multiracial band made a strong impression. On the first recordings Little Sister's Vet Stone, Mary McCreary, and Elva Mouton did backup vocals. [5] In 1968 sister Rosie Stone (piano and vocals) joined the band.

Sly and the Family Stone's success

Along with James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone were pioneers of late 1960s and early '70s funk. Their fusion of R&B rhythms, infectious melodies, and psychedelia created a new pop/soul/rock hybrid the impact of which has proven lasting and widespread. Motown producer Norman Whitfield, for example, patterned the label's forays into harder-driving, socially relevant material (such as The Temptations' "Runaway Child" and "Ball of Confusion") based on their sound. The pioneering precedent of Stone's racial, sexual, and stylistic mix, had a major influence in the 1980s on artists such as Prince and Rick James. Legions of artists from the 1990s forward – including Public Enemy, Fatboy Slim, Beck, Beastie Boys and LL Cool J's popular "Mama Said Knock You Out" along with many others – mined Stone's seminal back catalog for hook-laden samples. [5]

"The most talented musician I know is Sly Stone," Bootsy Collins said in an interview with Mojo . "He's more talented than anybody I ever have seen – he's amazing. I worked with him in Detroit from 1981 to '83, and to see him just fooling around, playing, jamming, is a whole other trip. He's the most amazing musician."

After a mildly received debut album, A Whole New Thing (1967), Sly & The Family Stone had their first hit single with "Dance to the Music", which was later included on an album of the same name (1968). Although their third album, Life (also 1968), also suffered from low sales, their fourth album, Stand! (1969), became a runaway success, selling over three million copies and spawning a number one hit single, "Everyday People". By the summer of 1969, Sly & The Family Stone were one of the biggest names in music, releasing two more top five singles, "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" / "Everybody Is a Star", before the end of the year, and appearing at Woodstock.

After the group began touring following the success of Dance to the Music , The Family Stone drew praise for their explosive live show, which attracted black and white fans in equal measure. When Bob Marley first played in the U.S. in 1973 with his band The Wailers, he opened on tour for Sly and The Family Stone.

Personal problems and decline

With the band's newfound fame and success came numerous problems. Relationships within the band were deteriorating; there was friction in particular between the Stone brothers and Larry Graham. [6] Epic requested more marketable output. [7] The Black Panther Party demanded that Stone make his music more militant and more reflective of the black power movement, [7] replace Greg Errico and Jerry Martini with black instrumentalists, and replace manager David Kapralik. [8]

After moving to the Los Angeles area in fall 1969, Stone and his bandmates became heavy users of illegal drugs, primarily cocaine and PCP. [9] As the members became increasingly focused on drug use and partying (Stone carried a violin case filled with illegal drugs wherever he went), [10] 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. The former song was one of the first recordings to employ the heavy, funky beats that would be featured in the funk music of the following decade. It showcased bass player Larry Graham's innovative percussive playing technique of bass "slapping". Graham later said that he developed this technique in an earlier band in order to compensate for that band's lack of a drummer. [11]

"Thank You" reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1970. The single also peaked at No. 5 on the R&B chart and remained there for five weeks, while also remaining at No. 1 on the Pop chart for two weeks in the spring of 1970, before selling over a million copies. [12]

Having relocated to Los Angeles with his then girlfriend Deborah King, later Deborah Santana (wife of Carlos Santana from 1973 until filing for divorce in 2007), Stone's behavior became increasingly erratic. Epic was anticipating new material in 1970, but with none forthcoming, finally released Greatest Hits that November. One year later, the band's fifth album, There's a Riot Goin' On , was released. Riot featured a much darker sound as most tracks were recorded with overdubbing as opposed to the Family Stone all playing at the same time as they had done previously. Stone played most of the parts himself and performed more of the lead vocals than usual. This was the first major label album to feature a drum machine.

The band's cohesion slowly began to erode, and its sales and popularity began to decline as well. Errico withdrew from the group in 1971 and was eventually replaced with Andy Newmark. Larry Graham and Stone were no longer on friendly terms, and Graham was fired in early 1972 and replaced with Rustee Allen. The band's later releases, Fresh (1973) and Small Talk (1974), featured even less of the band and more of Stone.

Live bookings for Sly & the Family Stone had steadily dropped since 1970, because promoters were afraid that Stone or one of the band members might miss the gig, refuse to play, or pass out from drug use. [13] These issues were regular occurrences for the band during the 1970s, and had an adverse effect on their ability to demand money for live bookings. [13] In 1970, 26 of 80 concerts were cancelled, and numerous others started late. At many of these gigs, concertgoers rioted if the band failed to show up, or if Stone walked out before finishing his set. Ken Roberts became the group's promoter, and later their general manager, when no other representatives would work with the band because of their erratic gig attendance record. [14] In January 1975, the band booked itself at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The famed music hall was only one-eighth occupied, and Stone and company had to scrape together money to return home. [15] Following the Radio City engagement, the band was dissolved. [15]

Rose Stone was pulled out of the band by Bubba Banks, who was by 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, California. Little Sister was also dissolved; Mary McCreary married Leon Russell and released recordings on Russell's Shelter Records label. [16] Andy Newmark became a successful session drummer, playing with John Lennon, Roxy Music, B. B. King, Steve Winwood and others. [17]

Later years

Stone went on to record four more albums as a solo artist (only High on You (1975) was released under just his name; the other three were released under the "Sly & The Family Stone" name). In 1976, Stone assembled a new Family Stone and released Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I'm Back . 1979's Back on the Right Track followed, and in 1982 Ain't But the One Way was released, which began as a collaborative album with George Clinton, but was scrapped and later completed by producer Stewart Levine for release. None of these later albums achieved much success.

Stone also collaborated with Funkadelic on The Electric Spanking of War Babies (1981), but was unable to reinvigorate his career. In the early 1980s Sly Stone was also part of a George Clinton/Funkadelic family project with Muruga Booker called "The Soda Jerks," who recorded an album worth of material, of which only one song has been released. However, Muruga still has plans to release the material from the project.

In June 1983, Stone was arrested and charged with cocaine possession in Fort Myers, Florida. [18]

Stone managed to do a short tour with Bobby Womack in the summer of 1984, and he continued to make sporadic appearances on compilations and other artists' records. In 1986, Stone was featured on a track from Jesse Johnson's album Shockadelica called "Crazay". The music video featured Stone on keyboards and vocals, and received some airplay on the BET music network.

In 1987, Stone released a single, "Eek-a-Boo Static Automatic", from the Soul Man soundtrack, and the song "I'm the Burglar" from the Burglar soundtrack. He also co-wrote and co-produced "Just Like A Teeter-Totter," which appeared on a Bar-Kays album from 1989. From 1988 to 1989 Sly Stone wrote and produced a collection of unreleased recordings in his home studio in New Jersey, "Coming Back for More" and "Just Like A Teeter-Totter" are a part of that collection of about 20 songs.

In 1990, he gave an energetic vocal performance on the Earth, Wind and Fire song, "Good Time." In 1991, he appeared on a cover of "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" performed by the Japanese band 13CATS, and shared lead vocals with Bobby Womack on "When the Weekend Comes" from Womack's 1993 album I Still Love You.

In 1995, ex-landlord Chase Mellon III accused Stone of trashing the Beverly Hills mansion Mellon rented to him in 1993. Mellon says that he found bathrooms smeared with gold paint, marble floors blackened, windows broken and a gaunt Stone emerging from a guest house to say, "You’re spying on me." Sly Jr., then studying to be a recording engineer, told People, "Nobody purposely destroyed the house. I’d thrown parties. My dad had a few get-togethers. We weren't aware of the damage." The damage, however, was not just superficial. "Sly never grew out of drugs," says ex-wife Silva. "He lost his backbone and destroyed his future." [18]

His last major public appearance until 2006 was during the 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony where Stone showed up onstage to be entered into the Hall of Fame along with the Family Stone. In 2003, the other six members of the original Family Stone entered the studio to record a new album. Stone was invited to participate, but declined.

"I feel like Sly just doesn't wanna deal with it no more," Bootsy Collins told Mojo . "It's like he's had it – it ain't no fun no more. It's a curse and a blessing. The curse part of it is the business you have to deal with, and then the blessing part is you get to be a musician and have fun…"

A few home-studio recordings (most likely from the late 1980s) with Stone's voice and keyboards over a drum machine have made their way onto a bootleg. One Stone-penned demo called "Coming Back for More" appears to be autobiographical and includes the verse: "Been so high, I touched the sky and the sky says 'Sly, why you tryin' to get by?' Comin' back for more." His son, Sylvester Stewart Jr., told People Magazine in 1997 that his father had composed an album's worth of material, including a tribute to Miles Davis called "Miles and Miles."

On August 15, 2005, Stone drove his younger sister Vet Stone on his motorcycle to Los Angeles' Knitting Factory, where Vet was performing with her Sly & the Family Stone tribute band, the Phunk Phamily Affair. Stone kept his helmet on during the entire performance, and was described by one concertgoer as looking a little like Bootsy Collins. A film crew doing a documentary on Sly & the Family Stone, later released as On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone , was at the show and captured this rare sighting on film. Stone, according to his web site, is producing and writing material for the group's new album. In addition, Stone renamed the group "Family Stone."

In 2009, the documentary film Coming Back for More detailed his dire financial situation. [19]

Stone filed suit against Jerry Goldstein, the former manager of Sly and the Family Stone for $50 million in January 2010. The litigation claimed that Goldstein had used fraudulent practices to convince him to deliver the rights to his songs to Goldstein. In the suit, he made the same claim about the Sly and the Family Stone trademark. [20] Goldstein filed a countersuit for slander following a rant by Stone at the Coachella Festival. [21] In January 2015, a Los Angeles jury ruled in favor of Stone, awarding him $5 million. [22] However, in December 2015, a superior court judge ruled that Stone would not be able to collect the royalties because he had previously assigned them to a production company. [23]

Mid 2000s tributes

A Sly and the Family Stone tribute took place at the 2006 Grammy Awards on February 8, 2006, at which Stone gave his first live musical performance since 1987. Sly and the original Family Stone lineup (minus Larry Graham) performed briefly during a tribute to the band, for which the headliners included Steven Tyler, John Legend, Van Hunt, Nile Rodgers and Robert Randolph. Sporting an enormous blonde mohawk, thick sunglasses, a "Sly" beltbuckle and a silver lamé suit, he joined in on "I Want To Take You Higher." Hunched over the keyboards, he wore a cast on his right hand (the result of a recent motorcycle mishap), and a hunched back caused him to look down through most of the performance. His voice, though strong, was barely audible over the production. Stone walked to the front of the stage toward the end of the performance, sang a verse and then with a wave to the audience, sauntered offstage before the song was over. [24] "He went up the ramp [outside the theater], got on a motorcycle and took off," Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the Grammy Awards show told the Chicago Sun-Times . Ehrlich said Stone refused to leave his hotel room until he was given a police escort to the show and then waited in his car until the performance began.

A Sly and the Family Stone tribute album, Different Strokes by Different Folks , was released on July 12, 2005 by Starbucks' Hear Music label, and on February 7, 2006 by Epic Records. The project features both cover versions of the band's songs and songs which sample the original recordings. Among the artists for the set are The Roots ("Star", which samples "Everybody is a Star"), Maroon 5 and Ciara ("Everyday People"), John Legend, Joss Stone and Van Hunt ("Family Affair"), The Black Eyed Peas' ("Dance to the Music"), and Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Robert Randolph ("I Want to Take You Higher"). Epic Records' version of the tribute album, which included two additional covers ("Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey" and "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)") was released in January 2006. [25]


On Sunday, January 14, 2007 Stone made a short guest appearance at a show of The New Family Stone band he supports at the House of Blues.

On April 1, 2007, Stone appeared with the Family Stone at the Flamingo Las Vegas Showroom, after George Wallace's standup act. [26]

On July 7, 2007 Stone made a short appearance with the Family Stone at the San Jose Summerfest. He sang "Sing a Simple Song" and "If You Want Me to Stay," and walked off stage before the end of "Higher". Stone cut the set short, in part, because the band began their set over 90 minutes late and had to finish before a certain time. While many blamed Stone for this incident, others believed that the promoter was at fault.

The same scenes were repeated at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 13, 2007 with over half the sold-out venue walking out in disgust even earlier than his stage exit. The same happened again one day later at the Blue Note Records Festival in Ghent, Belgium. There he left the stage after saying to the audience that "when waking up this morning he realized he was old, and so he needed to take a break now". He did the same again one day later, performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Stone in 2007. Sylvester Stone.jpg
Stone in 2007.

As the tour progressed, however, Stone seemed to be more confident and animated, often dancing and engaging the audience. He performed "Stand", "I Want To Take You Higher", "Sing A Simple Song", "If You Want Me To Stay", and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)", which at one point morphed into "Thank you For Talkin' To Me Africa", a track rarely performed in public. But the show was marred by sound problems and the vocals were barely audible through much of the show.

On October 17, 2008, Sly played with the Family Stone at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, CA. He played a 22-minute set and ventured offstage, telling the crowd "I gotta go take a piss. I'll be right back." He never returned. [27] On Memorial Day, May 25, 2009, Stone re-emerged once again, granting an hour-long interview with KCRW-FM, a Los Angeles NPR affiliate, to discuss his life and career.

On August 18, 2009, The Guardian reported that a forthcoming documentary, Coming Back for More by Dutch director Willem Alkema, claims Stone is homeless and living off welfare while staying in cheap hotels and a camper van. The film alleges that Stone's former manager, Jerry Goldstein, cut off his access to royalty payments following a dispute over a 'debt agreement', forcing Stone to depend on welfare payments. [28] On September 25, 2011, Alkema wrote in the New York Post that Stone was homeless and living in a van in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles, [29] although a subsequent report by Roger Friedman of Showbiz411 stated that Stone is not homeless, and lives in the van by choice. [30]

On Labor Day, September 7, 2009, Stone appeared at the 20th annual African Festival of the Arts in Chicago, Ill. He performed a 15-minute set during George Clinton's performance. He performed his popular hits along with George Clinton's band. He left immediately after his short performance.

On December 6, 2009, Stone signed a new recording contract with the LA-based Cleopatra Records and on August 16, 2011, I'm Back! Family & Friends was released, his first album since 1982's Ain't But the One Way . The album features re-recorded versions of Sly & the Family Stone 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.

Stone has appeared in recent years with George Clinton and performed with his daughter Novena's band, Baby Stone.

In Jan 2015, Sly Stone along with four of his bandmates appeared at a convention dedicated to honoring the band and its legacy. Called LOVE CITY CONVENTION it occurred in Oakland at the Den Lounge inside the Fox Oakland Theater. Sly was in good spirits, answered questions from fans and signed autographs.

Stone sued his former managers in 2010, accusing them of cheating him out of years' worth of royalty payments for the songs he had written. He testified that he had not been paid any royalties between 1989 and 2009. A jury in Los Angeles awarded him $5 million in damages in January 2015, but in December the award was overturned because, the appellate court ruled, the trial judge had not told the jury to take into account the fact Stone had assigned his royalties to a production company in exchange for a 50% ownership stake. In May 2016, Stone's attorneys appealed that decision. [31] [32] [33] [34]

Personal life

Stone married model-actress Kathy Silva on June 5, 1974 during a sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden. [35] Their outfits were designed by Halston. They made elaborate plans for a laser-light show, a real-life "angel" flying on wires dropping gold glitter all over the crowd, and for thousands of doves to be released. The ASPCA threatened a lawsuit kept the doves from flying, and the Garden wouldn't let the human "angel" fly unless Stone and company posted a $125,000 security bond. They declined to pay the fee, and also opted not to pay for the 200 extra security guards the venue demanded in order to allow the wedding party to stage a processional right through the audience. [36]

They separated in 1976 after their son was mauled by Stone's dog. [37] Silva also accused Stone of abuse. "He beat me, held me captive and wanted me to be in ménages à trois," Silva told People magazine. "I didn't want that world of drugs and weirdness." Still, she remembers, "He'd write me a song or promise to change, and I'd try again. We were always fighting, then getting back together." [18]


Sylvester Jr., born late 1973. His mother is Kathy Silva. [38]

Sylvyette, born c. 1976. Her mother was Cynthia Robinson (1944–2015). [39]

Novena Carmel, born c. 1982. She is a singer and performer and also a booking agent at the Little Temple club in Los Angeles, now known as The Virgil. She is also a member of pop/hip hop group Wallpaper.


Stone's cousin is Moses Tyson, Jr., who is a gospel musician and organist.


Related Research Articles

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.

<i>Greatest Hits</i> (Sly and the Family Stone album) 1970 greatest hits album by Sly and the Family Stone

Greatest Hits is a compilation album by American recording group Sly and the Family Stone. It was first released on November 21, 1970, by Epic Records. Comprising five singles and their b-sides along with one additional single and one album track, it includes all of the singles from the albums Dance to the Music (1968), Life (1968), and Stand! (1969), and all of their charting B-sides.

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.

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) song by Sly & the Family Stone

"Thank You " is a 1969 song recorded by Sly and the Family Stone. The song, released as a double A-side single with "Everybody Is a Star", reached number one on the soul single charts for five weeks, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1970. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 19 song of 1970.

"Stand!" is a 1969 song by the soul/rock/funk band Sly and the Family Stone Issued as a single that year by Epic Records, it reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 14 on the Hot Soul Songs charts.

"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.

Everybody Is a Star song written by Sylvester Stewart and recorded by Sly and the Family Stone

"Everybody Is a Star", released in December 1969, is song written by Sylvester Stewart and recorded by Sly and the Family Stone. The song, released as the b-side to the band's 1970 single "Thank You ", reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1970 at a time when chart position for both sides of the single were measured equally and not independently. "Star" was intended to be included on an in-progress album with "Thank You" and "Hot Fun in the Summertime"; the LP was never completed, and the three tracks were instead included on the band's 1970 Greatest Hits compilation. The single was the final classic-era Family Stone recording; it would be 23 months until the next release, the single "Family Affair" in late 1971.

Hot Fun in the Summertime 1969 single by Sly and the Family Stone

"Hot Fun in the Summertime" is a 1969 song recorded by Sly and the Family Stone. The single was released in the wake of the band's high-profile performance at Woodstock, which greatly expanded their fanbase. The song peaked at number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart, kept out of the number 1 spot by I Can't Get Next to You by The Temptations. "Hot Fun in the Summertime" also peaked at number 3 on the U.S. Billboard soul singles chart in autumn 1969. It is ranked as the seventh biggest U.S. hit of 1969, and the 65th in Canada.

<i>The Correct Use of Soap</i> 1980 studio album by Magazine

The Correct Use of Soap is the third studio album by British post-punk band Magazine, released by Virgin Records in 1980. It contains some of Magazine's best-known and most popular songs, including the singles "A Song from Under the Floorboards" and "Sweetheart Contract" and their cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "Thank You ". A different version of this album was released in Canada in 1980, by then distributor Polygram Records. This version was titled An Alternative Use of Soap.

We Wanna Thank You (The Things You Do) single by Big Brovaz

"We Wanna Thank You " is a single released in 2004 by the UK hip hop/R&B group Big Brovaz. The single was the first new material since their debut album, Nu-Flow, and was the theme song for the film Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. "We Wanna Thank You " features a sample from Sly & the Family Stone's "Thank You "

Hey There Lonely Girl 1969 single by Eddie Holman

"Hey There Lonely Girl" is a song recorded in 1963, in its original version by Ruby and the Romantics titled, "Hey There Lonely Boy". The group's original recording and was a Top 30 hit, peaking at #27.. Unlike other Ruby and the Romantics releases, "Hey There Lonely Boy" did not make any other US chart.

Billboard Hot Soul Hits is a series of compilation albums released by Rhino Records in 1995, compiling 50 hit soul music recordings, which were popular in the 1970s. Five albums were released, containing ten songs from a specific year from 1970 through 1974.

<i>Live at Mile High Music Festival</i> 2008 live album by Dave Matthews Band

Live at Mile High Music Festival is a live album by the Dave Matthews Band from the 2008 Mile High Music Festival outside Denver, Colorado. In its first week of sales, the album debuted at #97 on the US charts. The concert featured many old songs such as "Don't Drink the Water", "Two Step" and "#41", as well as more recent songs such as "Corn Bread" and "Eh Hee".

<i>Staying Power</i> (album) 1999 studio album by Barry White

Staying Power is the twentieth and final studio album by American R&B singer Barry White, released on July 27, 1999. The album was White's first release for five years, and his only recording for the Private Music label, with whom he had signed following a four-album deal with A&M which had culminated in 1994 with the acclaimed The Icon Is Love, his most successful album since the 1970s.

<i>Theres a Riot Goin On</i> 1971 studio album by Sly and the Family Stone

There's a Riot Goin' On is the fifth studio album by American funk and psychedelic soul band Sly and the Family Stone. It was recorded from 1970 to 1971 at Record Plant Studios in Sausalito, California and released later that year on November 20 by Epic Records.

<i>Im Back! Family & Friends</i> 2011 studio album by Sly Stone

I'm Back! Family & Friends is the second solo album by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone, released by Cleopatra Records in 2011. It contains remixes and covers of his old material, along with three new tracks.

<i>With a Lotta Help from My Friends</i> 1970 studio album by Junior Mance

With a Lotta Help from My Friends is a rock/jazz/funk fusion album by jazz pianist Junior Mance which was released on the Atlantic label in 1970.

<i>Things Are Getting Better</i> (Eddie Jefferson album) 1974 studio album by Eddie Jefferson

Things Are Getting Better is an album by vocalist Eddie Jefferson recorded in 1974 and released on the Muse label.


  1. AllMusic – Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart
  2. "Sly and the Family Stone | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". April 15, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 Santiago, Eddie. Sly: The Lives of Sylvester Stewart and Sly Stone. Eddie Santiago, 2008. Print.
  4. Selvin, Joel (1998). For the Record: Sly and the Family Stone: An Oral History. New York: Quill Publishing. ISBN   0-380-79377-6.
  5. 1 2 3 "Sly & The Family Stone." Rolling Stone. Web.
  6. Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 107, 146–152
  7. 1 2
    • Kaliss, Jeff (2008). I Want to Take You Higher: The Life and Times of Sly & the Family Stone. New York: Hal Leonard/Backbeat Books. ISBN   0-87930-934-2.
  8. Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 89; interview with David Kapralik.
  9. Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 94–98
  10. Selvin, Joel (1998), p. 122
  11. Bass Legend Graham Lays Down the Millennial Funk: Larry Graham. Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  12. allmusic: Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin). All Media Guide, LLC. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  13. 1 2 Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 141–145
  14. Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 186–189.
  15. 1 2 Selvin, Joel (1998), pp. 188–191.
  16. Ankeny, Jason. "Leon Russell". Allmusic. Retrieved February 5, 2007.
  17. Credits for Andy Newmark. Allmusic. Retrieved February 5, 2007.
  18. 1 2 3 "The Decline and Fall of Sly Stone – Vol. 45 No. 24". June 17, 1996. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  19. Michaels, Sean (August 18, 2009). "Sly Stone living on welfare, claims documentary". The Guardian. London.
  20. The Detroit Free Press, January 30, 2010, page 11A
  21. "Ministry of Gossip". Los Angeles Times. September 27, 2011.
  22. Kreps, Daniel (January 28, 2015). "Sly Stone Awarded $5 Million in Royalty Lawsuit". Rolling Stone.
  23. Roberts, Randall (December 12, 2015). "Why Sly Stone still can't collect royalties from his classic songs". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles.
  24. Wilkinson, Peter (February 24, 2006). "Sly's Strange Comeback". Rolling Stone . Retrieved September 9, 2009.
  25. Bradbury, Andrew Paine (August 18, 2005). "Sly Stone Joins Family". Rolling Stone . Retrieved September 9, 2009.
  26. "Archive for April 2, 2007Las Vegas Sun". April 2, 2007. Archived from the original on January 2, 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  27. "Music & Nightlife | Sly Stone". Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  28. Michaels, Sean (August 18, 2009). "Sly Stone living on welfare, claims documentary". The Guardian. London.
  29. Alkema, Willem; Tucker, Reed (September 25, 2011). "Funk legend Sly Stone now homeless and living out of a van in LA". New York Post . Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  30. Friedman, Roger (September 27, 2011). "Exclusive: Sly Stone is NOT Homeless, Article Was Paid For". Showbiz411 . Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  31. McDonagh, Ross (February 3, 2015). "Rags to riches: Seventies funk legend Sly Stone is awarded $5m in back royalties while still living out of his van". Daily Mail. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  32. Roberts, Randall (December 12, 2015). "Why Sly Stone still can't collect royalties from his classic songs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  33. Eustice, Kyle (July 23, 2016). "Sly Stone of the Legendary Sly and the Family Stone Awarded $5 Million in Unpaid Royalties". The Source. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  34. Sieniuc, Kat (July 27, 2016). "Sly Stone Royalties Suit Gets New Trial After Appeal". Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  35. "Sly Stone with Wife Kathy Silva". Corbis Images. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  36. "40 Years Ago: Sly Stone Gets Married in Front of 21,000 Fans at Madison Square Garden". The Boombox. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  37. Ralph, Novak (June 17, 1996). "The Decline and Fall of Sly Stone". People. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  38. Sheff, David (January 14, 1980). "After Three Years of Taking Himself Higher, but Nobody Else, Sly Stone (of the Family) Tries a Comeback". People. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  39. Leovy, Jill (December 3, 2015). "Cynthia Robinson, trumpeter and founding member of Sly and the Family Stone". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 5, 2018.


Official website