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Sly Stone turns 60

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Born in Dallas on March 15, 1944, Sylvester Stewart aka Sly Stone has a big birthday. Happy #60, Sly!

Sly’s principle achievement is turning funk into high art and pop at the same time. He took the recent rhythmic and stylistic innovations of James Brown and applied them to superior pop song craft, and state of the art record making.

He had better melodies than JB, and generally far more interesting lyrics. Sly was about something.

Sly was also John the Baptist to the messiah of pop known as Prince. Certainly Sly was the closest working model to the art/funk/pop model that Prince has worked so brilliantly in so many directions.

Stewart himself had a narrow window of creative productivity cut short by some sort of emotional/drug breakdown. Sort of the black Brian Wilson that way. Hey, they both survived.

He’s gotten to be 60 though, and see his work from 35 years ago still reverberating throughout the culture. After all, he wrote and recorded…

Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
Everyday People
Family Affair
Sing a Simple Song
Stand!
Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey
Dance to the Music
(You Caught Me) Smilin’
You Can Make It If You Try
I Want to Take You Higher

…and they can’t take that away from him.

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  • Dan S.

    I wish he’d MAKE a comeback…the rumour mills bring his name up every few years…

  • Eric Olsen

    He has dabbled here and there but he would have come back if he could have come back. The dude is way, way, way down the road of no return and fried in places and ways that don’t get unfried in this lifetime.

    Dawn and I wrote a career overview of Sly here.

  • Hope

    Nevertheless…One of the greatest of all times. And that cant take that away from him. Stand Tall sly…wherever youi are. we love you. Your music speaks for itself.

  • Clint Rehn

    Sly! He was the greatest in his time. No holds barred! He took my friends and myself to the next level. I wish him the best. Clint Rehn, Walla Walla, Washington, USA

  • Blackie

    Sly – Enjoy seeing your site. Looking forward to catching up. Your old friend – Blackie.

  • Marie

    Sly I miss you. I have been thinking about you for a while and decided to see what you have been up to. Please come back. Your music has a special place in your fans hearts.

  • kc stone

    your first insight the whole new family is coming back i am the nephew of sly stone my father is freddie stone i will the first of the second generation to come out followed by my dads new album so get ready because i am getting ready along with my family to change music and music production all over again

  • http://PsychGURU.com Ruby Tuesday

    While Sly and I lived together from 1988 to 1989 Sly in his infinate wisdom suggested to me that I do what I know,
    His “Beautiful Mind” inspired me to become a psychotherapist, I now do what I know and love…..

    I still love ya Syl

  • Eric Olsen

    very glad to hear Sly was a positive influence on you Ruby, thanks!

  • A

    Sly, you are the greatest!!! No one compares TO YOU.

  • John Mulrenan

    Spent a few days with Sly when my band “Lord Gunner” opened up for him at the Fast Lane in Asbury Park NJ and he came back to the house afterwards. Thanks for the lighter back, Sly. You belong on the Mount Rushmore of Rock along with James, Lennon, Hendrix, and Muddy waters. Love ya.John

  • Eric Olsen

    very cool, John, thanks – when was this?

  • Glenn Stewart

    To my cousin Sly,whats up Syl,this i your old friend and cousin,brother you’re the greatest,I Really miss all the great times time we had together in Los Angeles.Man yur the greatest of all time.I will go visit you soon.I talk to brother Freddie Stone alot.Sylyou’re one in a million my brother.We had a great time making Eek ah boo static automatic,till we meet again,take care and God loves you,,Glen Stewart

  • Eric Olsen

    Sly, let us know if you read this, you have some loyal friends.

  • global

    Sly . . . i’m sitting here listen to ‘thank you for talkin’ to me africa,’ the last track on ‘there’s a riot goin’ on and enjoying it just as much as i did the first time i heard it back in the day. Sly, you had it goin’ on and it will go on forever. thank you for the party, sly, it isn’t over yet. peace to you and i hope you are receiving the Creator’s blessings, because as you and the family worked it in our lil church in vallejo, don’t forget, ‘you can make it if you try.’ peace my brother.

  • http://www.wefunk.com JM

    Sly,

    We all wish you would come back on the road for your fans. We all miss you. Your gift of music and awareness, that you gave to the people, will always remain with us.

  • Eric Olsen

    not too sure how “aware” Sly is these days, but there is always hope

  • Tamara

    Hey,

    what’s the latest rumors on Sly?

    Does anyone know anything about a recent book on him?

    Feel free to email me at fiveorange@yahoo.com

  • Mike J.

    Sly,
    How you doin man? You don’t remember me but, I met you briefly in late ’79 early 1980 @ Phyllis’s & Henrietta crib in L.A. You used to kick it with Major. You had a Blue El Dorado & you were sitting in the back seat when I met you. I was floored when Major gave me something to pass to the person in the back seat & it turned out to be you. I used to hear Phyllis & Henrietta talking about “Sly” all the time, that “Sly” was over & you all were playing cards or talking & I just assumed that they were talking about some brother with “Your” name. You said that you had seen me playing somewhere before and asked me if I had heard of Kenny Burke & Rusty Allen because like myself, they also played Bass guitar. You also said that you were going to take me to your studio on your ranch so I could show you what I could do. Well, I still play & write my own songs & I can truly say that I can hardly write anything without hearing a riff or a vocal delivery that wasn’t influenced by you & “The Family”.
    I realize that this is a long shot but, I’m still waiting to hear from you. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather work with to make my life complete. You had a knack for bringing people together & making them see through your music that, we are all the same. Such a simple but profound axiom. There’s no better time than now to return to that concept. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t been in the public’s eye in quite a while. All the more reason to make a triumphant return…..with a statement. Give the world what it’s been longing for Syl……”TRUTH”. You shouldn’t worry about the critics because there isn’t a famous person alive today that is immune from critique. But your name still has weight. Your musical contributions continue to be valid. To demonstrate to the world again that you still have music in you will give hope.
    I recently saw “Ray” and thought about you. Like Ray Charles, you’ve had your struggles. Not unlike a whole generation of “Everyday People”. But Ray triumphed & redeemed himself & I know you can relate because I can hear the vocal influence of Ray Charles in your voice. It all comes full circle. He influenced us, we influenced him. You influenced us, we influence you. I didn’t intend to ramble on like this but i’m trying to drive a point home that there is a clear need for real leadership in the world just as there is a real need for a coming together of people of all races to find and nurture a common bond. Sly & The Family Stone embodied that spirit under your leadership.
    I realize that you alone cannot “save the world” but, the world could use a swift kick in the pants right about now and you really could be a catalyst to help jump start it. Feel free to contact me via email and we can remain totally discreet about communicating but, collaborate we must.
    So in closing, just know that there is still a place for you in this musical universe & that We are waiting…….

    Mike J.

  • av

    syl, all the things that weve been throgh you for me and me for you ive allways been with you eye to eye with you. Panda book and movie Time has come AV

  • Riley

    There is always hope(Brian Wilson) but who knows. As long as he can be happy that is what matters. In a list of greatest American genuises you have in no order people like George Gershwin, Leornard Bernstein, Sly, Burt Bacharach. ALl those guys were just on a whole different level when it came to music and what they heard in there heads. The world needs a Sly Stone right now.

  • John Hier

    I am 27 and from Cheltenham in England. I have only recently discovered Sly & the Family and have since become rather obsessed. Of course, slys albums are very hard to find in UK, only the best of’s are stocked in the shops. I have just recieved an amazon package from the states featuring life, riot, and stand! so my christmas holiday party season is now sorted. Not much music nowadays compares to you sly, you just cant get that funk/rock/soul crossover to the same quality that you invented. Fave tracks of mine are Underdog, Dynamite, If You Let Me Stay and the mighty, mighty Life! Can any one tell me if there is a book available?

  • http://quibus@mac.com Bernhard A Kats

    Sly,

    My son, Guyora, musician in New York, sent me some of your music.

    I rate your performance in “Que sera, sera” *****.
    In my opinion it kind of summarizes your career. To
    my surprise, this song is not mentioned by any critic.

    God bless you !!

  • Mike J.

    Syl,
    4got 2 leave my email addy:
    hit me up @ bassfreq53@yahoo.com

    Mike J.

  • Bill Patterson

    I’m writing from Madison Wisconsin. I was a big fan of Sly’s music when I went to college in the 60’s and early 70’s.

    I am now part of a group called Dane Dances! (http://www.danedances.org) that has put on free public dances on Friday nights in August for the past five years. We get several thousand people a night dancing to live bands on the downtown rooftop of our convention center.

    The idea for Dane Dances! came from Peter Anderson, who went to street dances in NY city when he was young. The idea is to celebrate our diversity and bring various diverse groups together through dancing. We just got the local YWCA Racial Justice award this past year.

    Peter has talked about commissioning someone to write a theme sonng for Dane Dances!, but I don’t think that anyone can write a better song than “Everyday People”. Sly was an early leader in celebrating diversity.

    Thanks for everything Sly!

    Bill Patterson
    Madison Wisconsin

  • http://www.slyandthefamilystone.net Admin

    We’re starting a website on Sly as there is very little out there on the internet. Only just started but people’s suggestions as to what they want to see would be appreciated.

  • Eric Olsen

    hey Admin, great idea, please take a look at our bio here

  • http://www.morethings.com/senate Al Barger

    Outstanding! Sly definitely needs a better presence on the net.

    I’m sure you’ll get plenty of pictures and lyrics. Those things are obvious for such a project, and very good.

    I’d be especially interested, however, in seeing actual writing about Sly’s music, analysis of specific albums and songs. That’s what would be unique and worthwhile.

  • http://www.slyandthefamilystone.net Admin

    The bio is great Eric, done some comprehensive searches of Sly on the internet up to now and never seen that before. I think Google sources this page over the one.

    Lyrics is a definite, though lyric sheets are given with some of the LPs, others are very hard to come by.

    One of the problems with this project is that I know very little about Sly that I haven’t either read in promient articles or one of the few published works on him. For this reason, rather than attempt to go into my own detailed analysis of his works (at least initially) I am going to open the floor to users of the site so they can add their own interpretations and review albums/songs.

    I am currently sourcing some articles on Sly which I hope to get up there

    Hope to get some nice videos up there too, if I can ever work out how to move stuff from DVD -> mpeg.

    Want to try and pool information about tab/chords for the songs out there too, as there are only three song notations available on the internet for Sly Stand, Everybody Is A Star and If You Want Me To Stay (and that one’s wrong!).

    Some members are still active, so if there’s any news to report on that front I will put it up.

  • http://www.wallybangs.blogspot.com wally bangs

    Sly was the bomb. That’s all I have to say.

  • Eric Olsen

    great Admin, best of luck with it and thanks for the kind words – the workings of Google are still a mystery

  • Jah Ruler

    It was 1969 and on the island of Trinidad and Tobago a musical explosion took place. The DJ on the government owned radio station played a tune by Sly and the Family Stone and in an instant I was transformed into a fan for life. Sly showed us that men and women, Black and White are equal in the eyes of the creator. His words and music would live on in my mind forever.

  • Eric Olsen

    very powerful and poetic Jah! thanks so much

  • Kathleen M.

    Dear Sly and family,

    I still listen to your albums a lot and have through all these years, just because – it’s such good music! in school we would listen to the break and dance and say, yeah that’s the baddest part. i hope that you have beauty, peace and health in your life now. once you came down to a jazz club i was working at but you stayed out in the parking lot in your van – i was a little disappointed to not see you but i understand, I’ve done that same type of thing myself more than once, and it was still great to know that you were close by –
    thank you again –

  • http://cowbells.blogspot.com mpho

    Are you familiar with his cover of “Que Sera Sera?” It’s slammin’!

  • chauncey

    hey guys great site thank u on slys bday too

    i have some things i can share get back to me

    Sly Stone turns 60
    Posted by Al Barger on March 15, 2004 10:55 PM (See all posts by Al Barger)
    Filed under: Music, Music: Classic Rock and Oldies, Music: Funk, Music: Hip-hop, Music: Pop, Music: Rock – Scroll down to read comments on this story and/or add one of your own.

    The Essential Sly & the Family Stone
    Sly & the Family Stone
    Music from Sony
    Release date: 11 March, 2003

    Born in Dallas on March 15, 1944, Sylvester Stewart aka Sly Stone has a big birthday. Happy #60, Sly!

    Sly’s principle achievement is turning funk into high art and pop at the same time. He took the recent rhythmic and stylistic innovations of James Brown and applied them to superior pop song craft, and state of the art record making.

    He had better melodies than JB, and generally far more interesting lyrics. Sly was about something.

    Sly was also John the Baptist to the messiah of pop known as Prince. Certainly Sly was the closest working model to the art/funk/pop model that Prince has worked so brilliantly in so many directions.

    Stewart himself had a narrow window of creative productivity cut short by some sort of emotional/drug breakdown. Sort of the black Brian Wilson that way. Hey, they both survived.

    He’s gotten to be 60 though, and see his work from 35 years ago still reverberating throughout the culture. After all, he wrote and recorded…

    Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
    Everyday People
    Family Affair
    Sing a Simple Song
    Stand!
    Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey
    Dance to the Music
    (You Caught Me) Smilin’
    You Can Make It If You Try
    I Want to Take You Higher

    …and they can’t take that away from him.

    More fine reading at Blogcritics.org. Scroll down to read comments on this story and/or add one of your own. Support Blogcritics.org by shopping at Amazon.com from this page.

    ——————————————————————————–
    Posted by Al Barger on March 15, 2004 10:55 PM (See all posts by Al Barger)
    Filed under: Music, Music: Classic Rock and Oldies, Music: Funk, Music: Hip-hop, Music: Pop, Music: Rock

  • Bike Rider

    Thanks Sly.

  • Dominick Cuevas

    Hey sly I grew up listing to your music your the greatest,It will be nice to hear from you playing God music You would be able to win many over to the lord by your testimony. So were ever your at it time to make a stand, an raise up.If you ever need a friend just to talk too just write, God has the master plan when He say stop then you stop til then you keep on playing because he gave that gift to use for his glory, life can be tuff but He will give you the strenght that you need,God love you sly stone He gave his only begotten son for you, If I can ever help you just let me know(I will always keep you in prayer). your friend in Christ Jesus Dominick

  • keith Harris

    He’s unique in his own way. He’s a pisces creative mysterious artistic enigmatic, He probably has hundreds of songs wherever he lives, He only chooses to satisfy himself at this time. That’s why I keep music all around the bed,so I can call Frisky.

  • the x man

    Sly,

    It’s a good thing that a few of your live shows have recently come out in the open so that I can feel the hair in the back of my neck stand up once more.
    I am one of the lucky ones as I saw the Original Family Stone perform about 20 times live. It left a permanent mark in my brain and the beat just won’t quit.
    Life is hard and drugs make it easy to hide behind, it’s easier to run.
    Hey, lets face it, you already made your legacy, but wouldn’t it rip a new hole in the F&^%ing universe if you got up there and did your thing again, just one more time. Man, U just hit 60 and life is too short. The high is would be better than drugs and you would be giving every audience a high with every show. I never thought that Slyvester Stewart from San Fransisco Ca. wouldn’t come on out and cut out a new ass for the next generation.
    Quote your homey George Clinton: “Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow” Did I see you smilin’ again. 😉
    Man, do you have a computer?If so read this and remember….When there is life there is hope.

    The X man

  • http://www.com WAYNE CLARK

    MARVELOUS INSIDE THE MIX OF EVERY THING THAT COULD BE THAT EVER WAS-IS-OR EVER SHALL DWELL IN TWIST OF MUSICAL EVENTS IN THE HIGHLIGHTS OF BLEND. YES – SLY -WE LOVE YOU FOR WHO YOU ARE – NOT THE ONE YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO BE. EVER CATCH A FALLEN STAR – AIN’T NO STOPPING TILL IT HITS THE GROUND – EVERYBODY IS A STAR – ONE BIG CIRCLE – GOING ROUND AND ROUND. SEE YA WHEN WE HEAR YA EVERY DAY AND NIGHT PEOPLE

  • Yeruel

    Happy Earthday Sly.
    First I want to wish you good health to you and your family. Thanks for the music that change the world within the lives and minds of many people. Many people want to see you unite the original band back together for a reunion. That would be beautiful. I think it would be therapeutic for many folks who love you and Larry Graham despite the youthful indescretions of the past. This would be a tremendous display to the younger generation of hip hop artist who have seen the Biggie Tupac conclusion. Who else to learn from but the master poet. It’s not the teaching it’s the learning(In time).

  • Duane Lance

    Hipstirs and squares,

    My brothers and I went to see the Phunk Phamily Affair at the Knitting Family in Hollywood on August 15th…the band got down- u ear me nephew! Composed of Lil Sis Vette Stone, Cynthia sitting on the throne, and Rsoe’s daughter on vocals- they played all f Sly’s hits…and who was sitting upsatis..no other than the man Sly himself!! He and Vet rode down Hollywood Blvd. on his motorcylce to the concert. Sly was right above me in a private booth- and I can tell you he enjoyed the show! i tried to take his picture but he kept ducking..I understand he may produce an album by Phink Phmaily Affair. Also, therte is an outfit doing a documentary called On the Sly (see their website at onthesly.com)…my brothers and I were interviwed for the documentary..Sly looked in great health!!!

  • http://legup.blogspot.com Brooklyn Bluesman

    Al,
    Thanks for paying homage to this all but forgotten music legend. I remember as a kid groovin to the nice pop of the Jackson 5, and being intrigued and even a little bit frightened by Sly & the Family Stone.It was probably those funky horns that startled me. Great music that has maintained it’s relevance through today. I don’t know how many times Sly was covered, but I fondly remember Magzine’s version of Thank You-Staring at the Devil, looking at his gun….

  • Alexander

    Dear Sylvester

    Simply put you are the Star of this entire generation, if you come back to take forward we will follow. Or die here where you left us.

    Brooklyn New York
    We are ready. R U ?

  • Alexander

    Dear Sylvester

    Simply put you are the Star of this entire generation, if you come back to take us forward we will follow. Or die here where you left us.

    Brooklyn New York
    We are ready. R U ?

  • Alexander

    PS ..we got the internet now you can start here with us. Alexander in Brooklyn

  • http://freewayjam.blogspot.com uao

    Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such personal messages to a musician at Blogcritics before. Sly Stone obviously touched an awful lot of lives, more than he probably even realized.

    Add my name to the list who wish him well and would welcome a re-emergence, were it possible.

    Even if it isn’t, he’s obviously left more of a mark on the world than most people do in a lifetime.

  • Skippy

    Sly Stone is da man! There’s a dude in the rock world that kinda takes Sly’s sprirt into modern rock, his name is Doug Pinnick. For the past 25 years (he’s 55) he has fronted a band called King’s X as well as various solo projects. Long live Sly!

  • David

    I have heard a lot about this Sly siting at the Knotting Factory, however I have not seen pic one.Anyone care to comment.

  • phun´

    check out Sly’s own site here

    He is making a comeback.

  • http://www.phattadatta.com Gonecat

    Sly’s sister, Vet, is auctioning Sly’s custom built 4-wheel Harley Davidson on ebay, check Sly’s site for info and a recent and ultra rare photo of Sly on the bike with Vet:

    http://www.phattadatta.com

    Yes, Sly was at the Knitting Factory show to see his sister’s tribute band, PhunkPhamilyAffair. Check PhattaDatta for the full story.

  • http://Ajones8697@adelphia.net Tony

    To all who enjoy Sly music he had a new webstie and will be producing some new music he his doing ok and is healthy check out his new site working on Vet new Cd so forget all the old stuff in past and be ready to enjoy some music. Phattadatta.com is his new site address. peace.

  • Mistuhbig

    Sly,

    More important than your music, I hope you are doing well. Thank you for your music. I am 36 years old amd always had a love for your music because my older brother played it. I think my parents played a lot of your music when my mother was pregnant with me. I probably was listening to you in the womb. Your music could not be classified as just rock and roll, funk or any genre. Just plain old good music. Sex Machine is an example of how hellified Sly and the Family Stone was. Whether you make another record or not, your music has left a legacy. I tell my nephew and some of the young cats, not realizing that is your beats, along with James Brown, that are among the most sampled. Once again, Thanks, and God Bless You.

  • Donny

    Hey Sly,
    Missing your music man…I believe I’ve everythang you recorded. When will you grace the world w/ some fresh music…we are suffering w/o you man!!!!!!

  • http://Waitingandcheckingin, Alexander

    Are you watching ? Brooklyn

  • Alexander

    Sly, I know you are reading this < ok doing someing the world waits

  • Tony B

    Everyone does my dad good(he’s not really my dad)I just call him that because he was the one I followed when I heard him on a 45 in 1968(Higher).
    It blew my mind, there was nothin and no one on the planet like Sly and Family Stone. I was 11 yrs old at the time. I even picked out Larry G as a no other on the planet too.
    One bone to pick and that is with the guy Al Barger who wrote the artical at the top of the page. Are you young or nuts, maybe both. Nobody follows SLY… PERIOD. Prince is a follower no matter what he has done. Withouy Sly there would not be a ton of groups or music that FOLLOWED.
    And this thing with James Brown, I grew up first hand listening to both of them and I don’t hear what the young ears hear. Sly is like Jimi you can’t touch. Don’t touch.

    The Real Sly & and The Family Stone Fan

  • Sherry D.

    I had the opportunity to visit Sly at his house in Beverly hills in Sept. ’05. My son is a good friend of his. Sly is amazing! He is constantly writing music. He sat down and talked to me for about half an hour. He’s very down to earth, but has such a presence. I feel so privileged to have had him open up his home to me. Sly, if you’re reading this, please know that you are #1 in my book. AND, it was great seeing you at the Grammys on Feb. 8, 2006. YOU ROCK AND RULE!!! SMD

  • Cassius B.

    Mr. Stewart, my hero!! I can’t call him by his first name. I remember as a kid putting on an afro wig, grabbing my older bro’s guitar and singing along to Mr. Stewarts jams as I looked in the mirror “to see how I was doing”. Will never forget those days. Of course it would be nice to hear some new music but – I am more happy he is still alive and appears to be well. Long live Mr. Stewart!!

  • Bindirana56

    Mr. Stone if you read these things, please, come back into public space. We need you! Turn and look around…this world, specifically this country…has become an ehthical wasteland….no one is “about anything” anymore. The fervor and passion, and political conscience of the people has suffered a mortal blow. The “work” we started in the 60’s and 70’s isn’t complete!!!! The “all about me” 80’s damn near wipped out all the good that was done! Alot of us “believers” still have the fire in the belly! And I can’t believe that you lost your’s…that righteous indignation that that pulsed and lived in your music….never dies….it’s eternal!It came from your soul! We need “the prophet of funk” back to beat the drum and ignite the fire and passion of activism, once again in the soldiers of righteous cause and social awareness! I ask you this question…”have YOU done all the things you set out to do???”….if not, then STAND < STAND < STAND! We need you!

  • BROOKLYN WE SEE U SLY

    YOU GOT ONE MORE SONG TO SING , IN THIS THING ITS A SHAME WE HAVING HEARD FROM YOU.

    WE PLAYING YOUR MUSIC EVERYDAY,

    I KNOW U READING THIS
    AND I’M (WATCHING)

    ARE YOU GOING OUT LIKE THAT ??? ///

    FROM THE HEART OF WORLD! BROOKLYN !!!!

    MY ZODIAC SIGN (.popluar in The 60’s)

    TAURUS THE BULL. I SAY SHUT THEM DOWN !!

    I KNOW YOU SEE ME. ! WORD OUT

  • backed

    join the discussion forum at http://www.slyandthefamilystone.net

    (forum link from front page)

  • Bob

    Sly:

    What goodness I learned growing up, I found in your words. My night with you and Bobby Womack in Rochester, NY in 1984, is etched in my mind. Thank you, Sly. God bless you.

  • http://psychguru.org Ruby Tuesday

    Sly, Wishing you well from Dallas.
    from ,
    Ruby the PsychGuru

  • http://www.myspace/ladydorian Dori

    Sly, Thank you for letting me be myself, which I did through your music. I was a little child back then. Every weekend I had to go take dance lessons and your music was always in the air.

    You are a Pioneer and bought down our Funkiness. For this I thank you.

    Live life with love.