Sly Stone biography
Sly Stone was born on March 15, 1944, in Denton, Texas. In 1966, Stone merged his band, the Stoners, with his brother Freddie's band to form Sly and the Family Stone. As Sly Stone's cocaine use increased, so did his failure to meet the band's commitments. In 1976, he declared bankruptcy. In 1993, Sly and the Family Stone were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Stone released a comeback album in 2011.
Musician Sly Stone was born Sylvester Stewart to mother Alpha and father K.C. in Denton, Texas, on March 15, 1944. Music was central to the family dynamic; Sylvester and his four siblings performed in a gospel group, with Sylvester on vocals.
After graduating from Vallejo High School, Stewart went on to study music theory at Vallejo Junior College. In his early 20s, he became a popular radio disc jockey on San Francisco's KDIA and KSOL stations. In collaboration with his boss, Tom "Big Daddy Donahue," Stewart produced soul singer Bobby Freeman's hit song "C'mon and Swing" in 1964. Soon after, Donahue made Stewart a house producer of Donahue's record label, Autumn Records. As a producer, Stewart adopted the stage name Sly Stone.
Sly and the Family Stone
Capitalizing on his new stage name, Stone started a band called the Stoners. In 1966, he and the Stoners' trumpeter, Cynthia Robertson, merged with his brother Freddie's band, Freddie and the Stone Souls. The marriage gave birth to the one-of-a-kind funk band known as Sly and the Family Stone, with Stone serving as both frontman and songwriter. The band's members also included Sly's and Freddie's cousin, revolutionary bass player Larry Graham; drummer Greg Errico; and sax player Jerry Martini. Sly's and Freddie's sister, Rosemary Stewart, joined them on keyboard a year later.
Although their first album, A Whole New Thing, flopped in 1968, songs like 1969's "Thank You" and several tracks from the album Stand! (also released in 1969) were wildly successful.
Despite fans' expectations, 1970 came and went with no new album. Also during this time, the band had begun to develop a reputation for showing up late to performances or missing them altogether—a result of Stone's drug abuse. The band had, however, made it to Woodstock, where they delivered a landmark performance of "I Want to Take You Higher" on August 17, 1969.
As Stone's cocaine use increased, so did his paranoia and his failure to meet the band's commitments.
Out of the Spotlight
In 1970, Sly Stone moved from San Francisco, California, to a mansion in Bel Air. In his new home, he stockpiled guns, cocaine and PCP, and procured himself a vicious guard dog. The release of Sly and the Family Stone's eerie 1971 album, There's a Riot Going On, confirmed to listeners that Stone had grown disillusioned. Following the album's release, Greg Errico left the band. While Sly and the Family Stone managed to eke out a few more hits, including "If You want Me to Stay" (1973) and "Loose Booty" (1974), 1976 found Stone declaring bankruptcy.
Stone took a few stabs at comebacks during the 1980s, but his cocaine use ultimately landed him in jail. Throughout the 1990s, he largely stayed out of the spotlight, with the exception of Sly and the Family Stone's 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
More than a decade later, Sly Stone re-emerged into the public eye with an unexpected and quirky performance at the 2006 Grammy Awards. A couple of years later, he and a few of his family members reunited for a show in Las Vegas.
Stone made headlines in 2010 when he sued his former manager, Jerry Goldstein, claiming that Goldstein had stole up to $30 million in royalties from Sly and the Family Stone.
More recently, in 2011, Stone released a comeback album entitled I'm Back! Family and Friends. The musician was reportedly living in a van in Los Angeles following the album's release.