If music is the universal language, very few have spoken it better than Sylvester Stewart. Of course Stewart is better known to music fans worldwide as Sly Stone (the name he used as a disc jockey on KSOL radio), and in the 1960s and 1970s his group Sly and the Family Stone changed the face and the sound of music. During a tumultuous time in the US with war abroad and civil unrest at home, Sly and the Family Stone brought people together through music. The band, a combination of cultures and genders; the lyrics, ranging from the thought provoking to the melancholy; and the music unlike any that had been heard before. Sly took the James Brown textbook and added a psychedelic rock flair.
The result was a legacy of music that to this day sounds just as good pounding through an iPod as it did back in the day on a turntable or 8-track tape player. The band’s first chart-topping hit was a danceable tune, appropriately entitled “Dance To The Music.” From there, the airwaves were ringing with hits like “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” “Hot Fun In The Summertime,” “Everyday People,” “Life,” “Family Affair,” and “I Want To Take You Higher.” Stone would continue to record through the early 1980s, although some members of the band such as bassist Larry Graham and drummer Greg Errico were no longer in the group in later years. Stone eventually became a recluse, occasionally gracing fans with rare appearances. In 1993, Stone surprisingly showed up to receive his award with his band at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1996 he recorded the song “Crazay” (and appeared in the video) with guitarist Jesse Johnson of The Time and. Stone made a brief appearance on stage during a tribute to Sly and The Family Stone at the 2006 Grammy Awards, sporting sunglasses and a blonde mohawk and proving that even close to 40 years after the release of his first album, he would always dare to be different.
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. Purchase his latest release “Inertia” at www.MontroseMusic.com and on visit him online at Facebook.