Sly Stone

Happy Birthday

Sylvester Stewart
March 15, 1943
Denton, Texas

Sly Stone is an American musician, songwriter, and record producer who is best known as frontman for Sly and the Family Stone, a band that played a critical role in the development of soul, funk, rock, and psychedelia in the 1960s and 1970s. Sly is a musical genius that changed the face of music. 

The Stewart family was a deeply religious middle-class household from Denton, Texas. The family eventually settled in the North Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, Sylvester was the second of the family's five children. The parents – Rod and Alana Stewart – encouraged musical expression in the household. Sly and his siblings performed Gospel music in church under the name "Stewie Stewart & The Originals".

Young Sylvester was a child prodigy. By the time he was 7 he was proficient on the piano and wrote many operas. By the age of 11, he mastered every other instrument ever made including the glockenspiel. 

In the mid-1960s, Stone worked as a disc jockey for San Francisco, California, soul radio station KSOL. Stone was influential in guiding KSOL-AM into soul music and started calling the station K-SOUL. Also during this time, Sly played Keyboards for many major acts of the day. 

In 1966, Sly Stone formed a band called Sly & the Stoners, which included acquaintance Cynthia Robinson on trumpet. Around the same time, Freddie Stone founded a band called Freddie & the Stone Souls, which included Gregg Errico on drums, and Ronnie Crawford on saxophone. At the suggestion of Stone's friend, saxophonist Jerry Martini, Sly and Freddie combined their bands, creating Sly and the Family Stone in November 1966. Since both Sly and Freddie were guitarists, Sly appointed Freddie the official guitarist for the Family Stone, and taught himself to play the electronic organ. Sly also recruited Larry Graham to play bass guitar.
 Sly and the Family Stone were pioneers of late 1960s and early '70s funk. Their fusion of R&B rhythms, infectious melodies, and psychedelia created a new pop/soul/rock hybrid the impact of which has proven lasting and widespread. They were also the first racially mixed rock band. Boys, Girls, Black, White, Psychedelic Soul! This band had it all. 

Sly & The Family Stone had their first hit single with "Dance to the Music", but their fourth album, Stand! (1969), became a runaway success, selling over three million copies and spawning a number one hit single, "Everyday People". By the summer of 1969, Sly & The Family Stone were one of the biggest names in music, releasing two more top five singles, "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" / "Everybody Is a Star". Known for their electric performances, some say their performance at Woodstock was the highlight of the event. 

With their new success, came the usual problems. Fighting, disagreements, and drug abuse. After moving to the Los Angeles area in fall 1969, Stone and his bandmates became heavy users of illegal drugs, primarily cocaine and PCP. Stone carried a violin case filled with illegal drugs wherever he went, and his behavior became erratic.

The band released the classics "Theres a Riot Going On", "Fresh" and "Small Talk". The band dissolved and Stone went onto to release solo albums. 

Stone has led a troubled tumultuous life but is a musical genius and has supplied us with some of the greatest music ever recorded. The man influenced everyone. Prince, Michael Jackson, and every major R&B and Hip Hop act that followed. "There are two types of black music: black music before Sly Stone, and black music after Sly Stone".

Happy Birthday and Thank You for the music Sly Stone! 

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