The seventies were not nearly as good to Sly and The Family Stone, and particularly to Sly himself, as the sixties had been.
The legacy, of course, continued to live on in the form of bands like Earth Wind & Fire and Parliament-Funkadelic. But as for Sly And The Family Stone itself, by the early seventies the wheels were pretty clearly begining to come off of the wagon.
A couple of years had lapsed between the release of There's A Riot Goin' On and 1973's Fresh. And despite it's cover art of an apparently exuberant Sly jumping for joy, there was clearly trouble in paradise. Most distressingly, Sly and The Family Stone's reputation as rock's greatest live band had been replaced by Sly's new-found reputation for showing up late or not at all to scheduled performances.
In all of music at the time, this was a reputation for no-showing scheduled concerts rivaled only by country music's famously late George "No Show" Jones. I actually have my own rather bizarre experience with this to relate.
As a then fourteen year old music freak, I had already seen many of my heroes — from the Airplane to Jimi Hendrix to Janis Joplin — in concert, and desperately wanted to see Sly. So I was downtown on the day of Sly's show at the Paramount, without a ticket, trying to figure out a way in, when I ran across this rehab group for heroin addicts called "Methadone Now". After a brief discussion with the guy in charge, I learned they would have a booth in the lobby of the concert soliciting donations and that if I wanted to work the booth, I could get in for free.
Imagine my luck.
The problem was I never told my parents. So after working the booth during the opening act (a stand up comedian of all things), I patiently waited for Sly to show up. And waited. And waited. And waited.
By this time it was well past midnight with no sign of Sly, and my parents (who you remember I failed to inform where I was) had understandably become concerned. So they called a friend of mine who informed them I was downtown working a drug rehab booth at the Paramount.
So, at about 12:30 AM, I was escorted out of the Paramount by a uniformed police officer. And I can honestly say I was never so embarrassed in my life. From what I understand, Sly finally showed up about an hour later and did a thirty minute set with no encore.