Sly & The Family Stone
by Scarlet Waters
Sylvester Stewart, or as we know him, Sly Stone, is one of the funkiest men who have ever lived. The music that he and the Family Stone created has influenced artists and musicians and the entire music business to this very day. Like so many African-American musicians, Sly and his family have their roots in gospel music and began playing instruments as children. Sly really was a child prodigy, having become proficient on piano by the age of 7, and mastering guitar, bass, and drums by 11.
Before forming Sly and the Family Stone, he played keyboards for multiple artists including Dionne Warwick, Righteous Brothers, Ronettes, and Marvin Gaye. It is pretty much accepted in the musical community that the pioneers of funk are James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic, and Sly and the Family Stone.
Bootsy Collins of P-Funk once said that Sly was “the most talented musician he has ever known.” We can clearly hear Stone’s influence on Prince and Rick James, and Sly and the Family Stone has been sampled by contemporary and hip-hop artists a record 813 times! Sing a Simple Song was sampled by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog, Tupac, and KRS-One. Everyday People was sampled by Arrested Development and covered by Maroon 5. You Can Make It If You Try was sampled by Mobb Deep, Jungle Brothers, and Ice Cube.
So ultimately, Hip-Hop is Funk! There would be no Hip-Hop without Funk, and there would be no Funk without Sly Stone and the great bass player Larry Graham who was a part of the band and is known for his rhythmic, slapping technique of playing bass. Americans and the rest of the world will probably listen to Dance To The Music and Hot Fun In The Summertime until our world ends.
Sly has battled addiction for years and has been mostly out of the public eye as a result of the troubles this has caused him, but you know, when you have given the world Sing a Simple Song, If You Want Me To Stay, I Want To Take You Higher, Stand, and Thank You (fa lettinme Be Mice Elf Again), you can go ahead and get a pass into oblivion. You have truly gifted us Sly, and we Justwannathankya!