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)
Sing a Simple Song
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.