Category: sly & the family stone

On this day in music history: December 4, 1971 – “Family Affair” by Sly & The Family Stone hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 5 weeks on the same date. Written and produced by Sly Stone, it is the third and final chart topping single for the San Francisco, CA based R&B/Funk band. Recorded at a time of much turmoil and upheaval in the once harmonious band, “Family Affair” expresses the ups and downs that one often has with their family. The breakdown of relationships within the band brought on clashing egos, money, drug abuse, and pressure to maintain their success exacts a heavy toll on all concerned. It takes Sly nearly a year and a half to complete “There’s A Riot Goin’ On”, working mostly on his own, with an ever rotating cast of musician friends as well as some contributions from the other band members. On “Family Affair”, Sly and his sister Rosie are the only members of the band to appear on the single. Billy Preston (keyboards) and Bobby Womack (guitar) provide additional instrumental support. “Family Affair” (like much of the album) utilizes the Maestro Rhythm King, one of the earliest drum machines to come on the market. The single is an immediate smash upon its release on October 15, 1971. Entering the Hot 100 at #50 on November 6, 1971, it leaps to the top of the chart just four weeks later. Over the years, “Family Affair” is covered by numerous artists including Tyrone Davis, Bunny Wailer, Shabba Ranks featuring Patra and Terri & Monica and Roachford. Another cover by John Legend, Joss Stone and Van Hunt recorded for the Sly & The Family Stone tribute/remix album “Different Strokes By Different Folks” wins a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 2007. Sly & Family Stone’s original recording is also sampled by Janet Jackson, Black Eyed Peas, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Trife & Cappadonna Featuring Sun God, Kid Frost, N’Sync, Angie Stone, Pizzicato Five, Digital Underground and Chaka Demus & Pliers. The original recording is also remixed by Mark Brydon, and later by Tom Moulton. “Family Affair” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: November 20, 1971 – “There’s A Riot Goin’ On”, the fifth studio album by Sly & The Family Stone is released. Produced by Sly Stone, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA, Winnebago Mobile Studio and Home Studio – 783 Bel Air Road, Los Angeles, CA from Spring 1970 – Fall 1971. With Sly & The Family Stone’s enormous success during the previous two years, mounting pressure from their record company, along with drug abuse and deteriorating relationships within the band make the recording process a long and hard one. Amid the tense and acrimonious atmosphere surrounding them, bassist Larry Graham and drummer Greg Errico both leave the band during the sessions, leaving Sly to fill in their parts by playing bass himself on many tracks, and employing the use of the then new Maestro Rhythm King drum machine. The resulting album is darker, stripped down, and funkier than previous efforts. It spins off three singles including the chart topping “Family Affair”. It goes on to become one of the most influential R&B albums of all time, also being inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. The album receives a long overdue remastering on CD in 2007 with four additional bonus tracks, noticeably improving upon the muddy and often noisy sounding original CD release of the album. Though with the better audio quality, the aural shortcomings of many tracks are the result of the original multi-track master tapes being repeatedly overdubbed on and erased, until the oxide has worn off. The reissue also restores the original “flag” cover artwork and photo collage on the back of the original release. Later issues of the album do away with the orginal cover artwork, instead using a cropped version of the live concert shot of Sly used on the inside of the LP gatefold. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Sundazed Music, also replicating the the “newspaper headline” hype sticker found on the first pressing. “Riot” is also released a high definition hybrid SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) by ORG Music in tandem with Sony Legacy in 2013. ORG also issues a limited edition double vinyl LP set, mastered at 45 RPM. Also in 2013, reissue label Get On Down Records releases the album as a limited edition gold CD boxed edition, featuring a hardbound book with rare photos, and an extended essay by A Scott Galloway. “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” spends two weeks at number one on both the Billboard Top 200 and the R&B album chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: August 9, 1969 – “Hot Fun In The Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone is released. Written and produced by Sly Stone, it is the San Francisco, CA based band’s seventh single release (on Epic Records). The single is issued just one week before the bands’ legendary performance at Woodstock. The stand alone single is initially mixed and released in mono only. When it is included on the bands greatest hits compilation in October of 1970, a fake re-channeled stereo mix of the song is prepared from the mono single master, rather than remixing it from the 16-track multi-track tape. In 1973 when CBS Records releases a quadraphonic stereo version “Sly & The Family Stone’s Greatest Hits”, the song is remixed in 4-channel stereo. This remains the only real stereo mix available until the early 90’s when it is finally receives a standard two-channel stereo mix. The new stereo remix makes its first appearance on the compilation CD “Rock Artifacts V. 1” in 1991. It later appears on “The Essential Sly & The Family Stone” in 2003 and the remastered CD reissue of “Sly & The Family Stone Greatest Hits” in 2003. “Hot Fun In The Summertime” peaks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on the R&B singles chart on October 18, 1969.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: June 30, 1973 – “Fresh”, the sixth album by Sly & The Family Stone is released. Produced by Sly Stone, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA and Sausalito, CA from Early 1972 – Spring 1973. After the release of “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” in late 1971, Sly & The Family Stone sees their first personnel changes with the departure of bassist Larry Graham and drummer Gregg Errico, both having left under acrimonious circumstances. Sessions for the bands next album begin in early 1972. The new album introduces new band members bassist Rusty Allen and drummer Andy Newmark to the fold, though many of the tracks feature Sly playing all of the instruments himself. During the nearly eighteen months that he works on the album, Sly constantly remixes and re-records several of the songs, resulting in different versions of the material. It spins off two hits including the bands last million selling single “If You Want Me To Stay” (#3 R&B, #12 Pop). The bands soulful cover of the 50’s pop classic “Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” (first popularized by actress Doris Day), is later featured over the end titles of the black comedy “Heathers” in 1988. The albums front and back cover photos are taken by famed photographer Richard Avedon (The Beatles). When the album is first released on CD in the early 90’s, it is made from alternate master reels using the wrong mixes, which were accidentally pulled from Sony Music’s archives. The CD is quickly withdrawn and replaced with the correct version. Soon after, this version of the album becomes a sought after collector’s item among Sly fans. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2007, featuring five alternate mixes taken from the withdrawn original CD release as added bonus tracks. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Sundazed Music the same year, also being released by Music On Vinyl in 2012. “Fresh” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number seven on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: May 3, 1969 – “Stand!”, the fourth studio album by Sly & The Family Stone is released. Produced by Sly Stone, it is recorded at Pacific High Studios in San Francisco, CA from Late 1968 – Early 1969. Following the lukewarm reception of their third release “Life” in the Fall of 1968, Sly & Family Stone regroup with the resolve of making a much stronger album next time out. Consistently fine tuning the bands sound, Sly finally comes up with the perfect musical combination. “Stand!” demonstrates their versatility and instrumental virtuosity, combined with Stone’s clever and thought provoking lyrics. All of these elements are seamlessly blended into a package that carries weight, but is still radio friendly and accessible. It becomes Sly & The Family Stone’s breakthrough album, with its influence being far and wide reaching on rock and R&B musicians alike. “Stand” also becomes a cornerstone of Hip Hop, as one of the most widely sampled in history. It spins off four singles including “Everyday People” (#1 R&B and Pop), “I Want To Take You Higher” (#24 R&B, #38 Pop), and the title track (#14 R&B, #22 Pop). Prior to the album’s release, Sly has the original mix of “Stand!” cut on an acetate, and takes it to a local club in San Francisco to test it out. When it receives only a fair reception from the crowd, the musician realizes it needs something more. Stone quickly returns to the studio, but without band members Greg Errico, Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini. With most of the band not immediately available, Sly hires studio musicians to play the funky gospel styled coda, that makes up the last forty nine seconds of the song. Following the band’s landmark performance at the Woodstock Festival and documentary film, “I Want To Take You Higher” (originally the B-side of “Stand!”) is re-promoted as an A-side in March of 1970. The original LP issue is released in a Unipak gatefold sleeve. Later LP pressings do away with the gatefold, (showing a misprint of “Sing A Simple Song” printed as “Sing A Simele Song” on the side A label) before the original packaging is restored on the Sundazed Records reissue in 2007. It is also remastered and reissued on CD in 2007, with five additional bonus tracks, and packaged in limited edition individually numbered digi-pak packaging. Widely regarded as one of the most important and influential albums of its era, “Stand!” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2015. Also in 2015, the album is selected for preservation by the National Recording Registry of the Library Of Congress. “Stand!” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirteen on the Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: April 27, 1968 – “Dance To The Music”, the second album by Sly & The Family Stone is released. Produced by Sly Stone, it is recorded at CBS Studios in Los Angeles, CA and New York City in September 1967. Issued just six months after their debut album “A Whole New Thing”, the follow up is less complex musically and more pop oriented than its predecessor (at the insistence of then CBS Records head Clive Davis), it establishes the band as major and influential force in popular music. It spins off a hit single in the title track, becoming their first top 10 hit (#9 R&B, #8 Pop). Like their first album, “Dance” is reissued in 1970 with different cover artwork and a new catalog number. The original cover is restored when the album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1995. The album is remastered and reissued again in 2007 with six additional bonus tracks including the original mono 45 mixes of the title track and “Higher”. Along with the CD release, “Music” is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Sundazed Music, making it available in the US on vinyl, for the first time in over twenty years. The LP is also reissued by Sony/Legacy in 2014, and Music On Vinyl (Europe) in 2015. “Dance To The Music” peaks number eleven on the Billboard R&B album chart and number one hundred eleven on the Top 200.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

Born on this day: March 15, 1943 – Songwriter, producer and musical icon Sly Stone (born Sylvester Stewart in Denton, TX). Happy 76th Birthday, Sly!!

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: December 29, 1969 – “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly & The Family Stone is released. Written and produced by Sly Stone (aka Sylvester Stewart), it is the ninth single release by the San Francisco Bay Area R&B/Funk band.  Recorded in the Fall of 1969 at Golden State Recorders, Pacific High Recorders in San Francisco, CA and Columbia Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA, the song is issued as a double A-sided stand alone single with “Everybody Is A Star”. The innovative song also introduced bassist Larry Graham’s “slap bass” technique to the world. Both tracks are intended to be a part of the follow up to the album “Stand!” in 1970 which never materializes. Instead, they make their first appearance on an album when they are included on the band’s first greatest hits compilation “Greatest Hits” in October of 1970. “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” hits number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles chart in February 1970. The song becomes one of the bands’ most popular and widely covered songs. Sly & The Family Stone themselves revamp the song as “Thank You for Talkin’ to Me, Africa” on their next album “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” in 1971. “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: December 18, 1971 – “There’s A Riot Goin’ On”, the fifth album by Sly & The Family Stone hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 2 weeks, also topping the R&B album chart for 2 weeks on January 1, 1972. Produced by Sly Stone, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA, Winnebago Mobile Studio and Home Studio – 783 Bel Air Road, Los Angeles, CA from January 1970 – October 1971. A sharp musical contrast from their previous album “Stand!” released two and a half years before, it is largely a solo effort by Sly with minimal contributions from the other band members. The dark, murky sound of the album in part is a result of the master tapes being overdubbed and erased numerous times, affecting the overall sound quality of many tracks. Sly takes so long to deliver the finished album that CBS Records chairman Clive Davis freezes royalty payments to Stone until he turns in the masters, which he hand delivers to the record company himself. It spins off three singles including “Family Affair” (#1 Pop and R&B), “Runnin’ Away” (#23 Pop, #15 R&B), and “(You Caught Me) Smilin’” (#42 Pop). Originally released in a gatefold jacket with a photo of a custom designed American flag with it featuring a black field (instead of blue) and suns instead of stars. When the album is reissued as a mid-priced title in the late 70’s, the original jacket design is discontinued and changed to a single pocket sleeve, with the flag being replaced by the center gatefold photo of Sly & The Family Stone onstage at Madison Square Garden. The albums’ original packaging is restored when it is finally remastered on CD and reissued on vinyl in 2007. In July of 2013, reissue label Get On Down Records issues a limited edition Gold CD edition packaged with an embroidered cloth patch of the flag cover adhered to the outside of the box, and coming packaged with a small hardbound book with an extended essay about the album by A. Scott Galloway. “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: December 4, 1971 – “Family Affair” by Sly & The Family Stone hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 5 weeks on the same date. Written and produced by Sly Stone, it is the third and final chart topping single for the San Francisco, CA based R&B/Funk band. Recorded at a time of much turmoil and upheaval in the once harmonious band, “Family Affair” expresses the ups and downs that one often has with their family. The breakdown of relationships within the band brought on clashing egos, money, drug abuse, and pressure to maintain their success exacts a heavy toll on all concerned. It takes Sly nearly a year and a half to complete “There’s A Riot Goin’ On”, working mostly on his own, with an ever rotating cast of musician friends as well as some contributions from the other band members. On “Family Affair”, Sly and his sister Rosie are the only members of the band to appear on the single. Billy Preston (keyboards) and Bobby Womack (guitar) provide additional instrumental support. “Family Affair” (like much of the album) utilizes the Maestro Rhythm King, one of the earliest drum machines to come on the market. The single is an immediate smash upon its release on October 15, 1971. Entering the Hot 100 at #50 on November 6, 1971, it leaps to the top of the chart just four weeks later. Over the years, “Family Affair” is covered by numerous artists including Tyrone Davis, Bunny Wailer, Shabba Ranks featuring Patra and Terri & Monica and Roachford. Another cover by John Legend, Joss Stone and Van Hunt recorded for the Sly & The Family Stone tribute/remix album “Different Strokes By Different Folks” wins a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 2007. Sly & Family Stone’s original recording is also sampled by Janet Jackson, Black Eyed Peas, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Trife & Cappadonna Featuring Sun God, Kid Frost, N’Sync, Angie Stone, Pizzicato Five, Digital Underground and Chaka Demus & Pliers. The original recording is also remixed by Mark Brydon, and later by Tom Moulton. “Family Affair” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.