Thursday Throwback: Graham Central Station

Anyone who knows a little bit of popular music history will recognize the name Larry Graham as one of the greatest bass guitar players of all time. The Beaumont, Texas native actually started out playing piano and organ and at eight years old, was playing in his mother’s band The Dell Graham Trio. He happened to pick up a bass after his keyboard stopped working during a gig and that’s when his love affair with the bass began.

He went on to become the innovative musician credited with creating the “funk bass” sound, while a member of the legendary group Sly and The Family Stone. Others may recall his years in the 1980’s as a solo artist, singing ballads like “When We Get Married,” “Just Be My Lady” and his number one hit “One In A Million.” Now true old school fans will remember him as the founder and band leader of Graham Central Station, formed in 1973.

Tunes such as “It’s Alright,” “The Jam” “We’ve Been Waiting,” “Release Yourself” and “Now Do U Wanta Dance,” featured Graham’s funk and psychedelic roots with an added gospel flair. The band’s biggest hit, “Your Love,” made it to number nine on the charts with a sound reminiscent of Sly’s “Hot Fun In The Summertime.” In 1976, Graham Central Station performed at the four-day concert series “California Soul,” hosted by Warner Brothers Records. The series also featured Al Jarreau, Ashford and Simpson, George Benson and the Staple Singers among others. Graham’s music has influenced a countless number of artists, most notably Prince, who often performed Graham Central Station songs during after party concert performances. So it was no surprise in the late 1990’s when he enlisted the services of Larry Graham as his bass player and as an opening act and if you’re lucky, you might catch Graham Central Station opening for Prince on his current “Welcome 2 America” tour.

– Montrose Cunningham

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Montrose Cunningham is an independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado residing in Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughter; sometimes both at the same time. Visit him online at and on Facebook.


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