Thursday, February 9, 2006

Sly & The Family Stone Tribute - Another View

This was an email sent to me by a friend of mine and fellow musician who is a definitive Sly & The Family Stone fan, as am I. It was wonderfully written and QUITE profound and I thought it was definitely something other folks need to read, so I am posting it here today:

you know me about as well as anyone and you know how I absolutely REVERE these people. Not just for the music they made but for the choices they made in regards to their lives , careers, etc.

They weren't always the RIGHT choices but as MEN they made them and lived with the consequences..everybody else and their opinion be damned.

I've never told you about some of the personal one on one moments I've had with Sly Stone. The first being when I was 11 years old. This mans vision of a racial utopia ( black/white - male/female all together living and loving as one) was brutally shattered by the end of the sixties when all of the assassinations (JFK, MEDGAR EVERS, MALCOLM X, MLK, RFK, etc.) had shattered everyones trust and belief in not just the government, but in each other.

Remember you used to hear Tom Jomes, the Temptations, The Carpenters, and James Brown all on the same radio station. by the end of the 60's everything has become formatted and all of a sudden there were "black" stations and "white" stations, and you all of a sudden had to cross over.

What does this have to do with Sly? Well when you see your vision shattered by circumstances out of your control, and you realize that we're NOT all EVERYDAY PEOPLE...well all you have left are your vices and your demons, the thing about vices and demons is that the toll they take on your pysche as well as your soul is incalcuable. And there's NO coming back from that. The years of drug abuse (and Slys appetite was voracious) have robbed Slys body of the nutrition it needs hence his stooped posture. It's also robbed him of his voice which was more Ray Charles than most people realize (just listen to his riffs on "Hot Fun In The Summertime". As for his coiffure, I wish he'd just gone bald and wore a hat. He looked like the bass player for the Plasmatics who if you remember was a brother that wore a blonde mohawk.

Sly Stone and the music he made is just as important as the beatles, led zeppelin, and any of the rest of those white boys that they constantly shove down our throat. Sly Stone is not a punch line - he wrote the words "..different strokes for different folks..." and that phrase is now an integral part of the english language.

I could go on and on, but suffice to say..I wish he hadn't shown up and just left us with the memories.

The line up was ridiculous, Steven Tyler looked embarassed. And even though Sly hasn't been seen since his late 80's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's been THIRTY years since he's performed with the original Family Stone. There on stage was Cynthia/Jerry/Sister Rose/Greg/ and his brother Freddie/ (Larry Grahams absence was inexcusable-I don't give a fuck what the reason was), but there was no mention or acknowledgement of the fact that the Band was right there behind all of those other musicians (Randy "American Idol" Jackson, Patrice rushen, Nile Rodgers, etc.).

All in all it was a sad state of affairs but heroes die hard. I will never let them be dissed/forgotten by the white media NOR by us who should know better. Black people have social and historical amnesia unlike any other race of people and we're so quick to diss or make fun of those who came before us and paved the way. Beyonce got to where she is on Arethas back, Prince has all publicly stated that he's where he is because of James, Sly and Jimi, it's WE who need to remember.

if this rant was too long, I can't make any apologies because I haven't even touched the surface of how I REALLY feel about the state of our culture and our music.


- JB

'Nuff Said Ya'll.


Ursula said...

I Hear That!

Anonymous said...

I was so stunned by Sly's appareance and there was so much going on I couldn't tell who was on the stage. Thanks for pointing out that the band was there. I also am saddened that Larry Graham wasn't present, however, this tribute was LOOONG overdue and should have been showcased in a different manner. Perhaps if they had caught Sly a bit ago.....Nyche