Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
One of the premier artists who defined a progressive sound in music celebrated eight decades on this planet last week. Sylvester Stewart a/k/a Sly Stone was born 80 years ago on March 15, 1943 in Denton, Texas. He is best known as the frontman, songwriter, producer & musician for Sly & The Family Stone. Their sound was a monumental fusion of funk, rock, soul, gospel & psychedelic music.
Stone formed the band when he was 24 years old in 1967. And in the middle of one of the most racially charged years of that decade, the group’s mere existence cut right through that tension & the looming gender divide by showcasing equality. As the The New York Times noted in 2015, the band “whose inclusion of black and white musicians of both sexes, and its hippie style, made it a living poster for the ideals of the counterculture”.
The group’s debut album, A Whole New Thing, came out in 1967. The title track from their next album, Dance to the Music, put them on the charts in 1968 with their first Top Ten hit. Over the next seven years Stone & his group would enjoy incredible success complete with three number one songs, numerous awards & accolades and sold out concerts. One of their incredible live performances is featured in the 2021 Oscar winning documentary, Summer Of Soul.
I think 80 years of life deserves to be marked with, at the very least, two songs. The first pick was released in 1968, it was the band’s first number #1 song (for four weeks in 1969) and in less than two & a half minutes, it defined equality for one and all. Talk about timeless.
“I am no better and neither are you
We’re all the same whatever we do
You love me you hate me you know me & then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in“.
Today’s second track is also celebrating a milestone. It was released 50 years ago and peaked at #12 in September 1973. Sadly, it was the last Top 20 hit for this man and his unbelievably talented group. But they went out with the proverbial bang as this song features one of the most fabulous base lines ever recorded.
“And when you see me again
I hope that you have been
The kind of person that
You really are now“.
Top: Sly Stone circa 1968. Bottom: The band circa 1968 (L-R): Rose Stone, Larry Graham, Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Greg Errico, Jerry Martini (seated) and Cynthia Robinson (Bottom picture credit-Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. (Top image found online. Original source unknown.)
Sly & The Family Stone: “Everyday People” (1968, written by Sly Stone).
Sly & The Family Stone: “If You Want Me To Stay” (1973, written by Sly Stone).
Stay safe and well.