Sly and the Family Stone Unisex T-Shirt
Finally, a way to show your respect for some of the greatest icons, legends and pioneers that paved the way past and present. Rock this gear in style and bring back the moments that made you, memories they gave you and/or lessons they taught you. Scroll down for a history lesson with some of our favorite clips.
Welcome to the Respect Due family Sly and the Family Stone! We salute you.
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Sly Stone: Portrait of a Legend – documentary (part 1 of 2)
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.
Formed in 1966, the group’s music synthesized a variety of disparate musical genres to help pioneer the emerging “psychedelic soul” sound. They released a series of Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits such as “Dance to the Music” (1968), “Everyday People” (1968), and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” (1969), as well as critically acclaimed albums such as Stand! (1969), which combined pop sensibility with social commentary. In the 1970s, it transitioned into a darker and less commercial funk sound on releases such as There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1971) and Fresh (1973), proving as influential as their early work. By 1975, drug problems and interpersonal clashes led to dissolution, though Sly continued to record and tour with a new rotating lineup under the name “Sly and the Family Stone” until drug problems forced his effective retirement in 1987.
The work of Sly and the Family Stone greatly influenced the sound of subsequent American funk, pop, soul, R&B, and hip hop music. Music critic Joel Selvin wrote, “there are two types of black music: black music before Sly Stone, and black music after Sly Stone”. In 2010, they were ranked 43rd in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and three of their albums are included on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Sly & The Family Stone Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) HQ Audio
Sly Stone produced for and performed with black and white musicians during his early career, and he integrated music by white artists into black radio station KSOL’s playlist as a DJ. Similarly, the Sly and the Family Stone sound was a melting pot of many influences and cultures, including James Brown funk, Motown pop, Stax soul, Broadway showtunes, and psychedelic rock music. Wah-wah guitars, distorted fuzz basslines, church-styled organ lines, and horn riffs provided the musical backdrop for the vocals of the band’s four lead singers. Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Larry Graham, and Rose Stone traded off on various bars of each verse, a style of vocal arrangement unusual and revolutionary at that time in popular music. Cynthia Robinson shouted ad-libbed vocal directions to the audience and the band; for example, urging everyone to “get on up and ‘Dance to the Music'” and demanding that “all the squares go home!”
The lyrics for the band’s songs were often pleas for peace, love, and understanding among people. These calls against prejudice and self-hate were underscored by the band’s on-stage appearance. White musicians Gregg Errico and Jerry Martini were members of the band at a time when integrated performance bands were virtually unknown; integration had only recently become enforced by law. Females Cynthia Robinson and Rosie Stone played instruments onstage, rather than just providing vocals or serving as visual accompaniment for the male members. The band’s gospel-styled singing endeared them to black audiences; their rock music elements and wild costuming—including Sly’s large Afro and tight leather outfits, Rose’s blond wig, and the other members’ loud psychedelic clothing—caught the attention of mainstream audiences, and helped the group enjoy success as a pop act.
Although “Dance to the Music” was the band’s only hit single until late 1968, the impact of that single and the Dance to the Music and Life albums reverberated across the music industry. The smooth, piano-based “Motown sound” was out; “psychedelic soul” was in, and the band would become a leading exponent of the sound. Rock-styled guitar lines similar to the ones Freddie Stone played began appearing in the music of artists such as The Isley Brothers (“It’s Your Thing“) and Diana Ross & the Supremes (“Love Child“). Larry Graham invented the “slapping technique” of bass guitar playing, which became synonymous with funk music. Some musicians changed their sound completely to co-opt that of Sly and the Family Stone, most notably Motown in-house producer Norman Whitfield, who took his main act The Temptations into “psychedelic soul” territory starting with the Grammy-winning “Cloud Nine” in 1968. The early work of Sly and the Family Stone was also a significant influence on the music of Michael Jackson & The Jackson 5 and soul/hip-hop groups such as George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic, Arrested Development, and The Black Eyed Peas.
The later work of Sly and the Family Stone was as influential as the band’s early work. There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Fresh, and Small Talk are considered among the first and best examples of the matured version of funk music, after prototypical instances of the sound in the band’s 1960s work. A 2003 article for Rolling Stone commented; “Sly and the Family Stone created a musical utopia: an interracial group of men and women who blended funk, rock and positive vibes… Sly Stone ultimately discovered that his utopia had a ghetto, and he brilliantly tore the whole thing down on There’s a Riot Goin’ On, which does not refute the joy of his earlier music.” In a retrospective review, Zeth Lundy of PopMatters called There’s a Riot Goin’ On “a challenging listen, at times rambling, incoherent, dissonant, and just plain uncomfortable” with “some episodic moments of pop greatness to be found” and viewed it as a radical departure from the band’s previous work:
[It] sank their previously burgeoning idealism at a time when social disillusionment was all the rage. Sly had found something else to take him higher and, as a result, Riot is a record very much informed by drugs, paranoia, and a sort of halfhearted malcontent […] listening to it isn’t exactly a pleasurable experience. It’s significant in the annals of pop and soul because it is blunt and unflinching, because it reflects personal and cultural crises in a manner unbecoming for pop records at the time. Riot can be classified as avant-soul only after being recognized as a soul nightmare—the ‘nightmare’, so to speak, being a reflection of an unfortunate and uncompromised reality, not a glossed-over pop-music approximation of reality.
Writer Colin Larkin described the album as “unlike anything heard before in black music”. Herbie Hancock was inspired by Sly’s new funk sound to move towards a more electric sound with his material, resulting in Head Hunters (1973). Miles Davis was similarly inspired by the band and worked with Sly Stone on his recordings, resulting in On the Corner; the sartorial and band lineup changes hallmarked jazz fusion. Davis was particularly impressed with material from Stone’s 1973 album Fresh. British musician and ambient music pioneer Brian Eno cited Fresh as having heralded a shift in the history of recording, “where the rhythm instruments, particularly the bass drum and bass, suddenly [became] the important instruments in the mix.” Artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Outkast, Chuck D, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and John Mayer have also shown significant inspiration from the post-1970 work of Sly and the Family Stone.
Sly & The Family Stone ~ Family Affair 1971 Disco Purrfection Version
Sly And The Family Stone “I Want To Take You Higher” on The Ed Sullivan Show
SLY & FAMILY STONE Dance to the Music
Sly & The Family Stone – If You Want Me To Stay (Audio)
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