Sly’s Back!

Sylvester Stewart is a 66-year Californian by way of Texas with one of the best resumes of any living musician anywhere in the world.  The man known as Sly Stone, frontman of Sly & The Family Stone, was (and is) a musical genius.

But he has also been his own worst enemy for, oh, about 40 years now.  If you are not familiar with his tale, check out Joel Selvin’s excellent Sly and the Family Stone: An Oral History, Vol. 4.  Or, for a quicker read, click on this equally insightful Vanity Fair interview from the summer of 2007.

Sly & The Family Stone, circa 1970

Sly & The Family Stone, circa 1970

The great news is that Stone, with the support of his 27-year-old daughter Novena Carmel, is shaking his reclusiveness and making appearances on stage once again.  He’s also granting interviews and this morning’s 45-minute appearance on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic with Chris Douridas is a must-listen (as well as a great introduction to some classic Family Stone cuts).

Look, plain and simple, I am a huge fan.  Check out this clip from Sly & The Family Stone’s appearance at Woodstock 40 years ago and the energy still crackles.  It’s hard to believe now, but the thought of a multi-racial, multi-gender band was considered radical (and far out) even during those times.

The band’s discography from the late ’60s to the early ’70s is all pretty much essential for music lovers.  Drugs and demons may have kept Stone from building on his legacy, but there is no question that Sly & The Family Stone’s brand of soul & funk was transcendent and influential on the tones of popular music, both lyrically and musically, to this day.

Sly Stone, circa now

Sly Stone, circa now

Sly Stone fans take good news, like today’s interview, where we can get it.  Hard to say if these baby steps portend a tour or new music in the future.  In some ways, that’s irrelevant.  The fact that Sly is still around and providing any windows into his world is worth celebrating on its own. 

And if you happen to be in Los Angeles, keep your ears open for Sly making an appearance on stage.  The live show may no longer be life-changing, but it will definitely be worth the effort.

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~ by acm213 on May 25, 2009.

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