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*Sly Stone was born on this date in 1943. He is a Black musician, songwriter, and record producer.
Sylvester Stewart (his birth name) came from a deeply religious middle-class household in Denton, Texas. As part of the doctrines of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), to which the Stewart family belonged, the parents, K.C. and Alpha Stewart encouraged musical expression in the household. The family moved to Vallejo, California, in the North Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. Sylvester was the second of the family's five children.
He was a musical prodigy. By the time he was seven, he had already become proficient on the keyboards, and by the age of eleven, he had mastered the guitar, bass, and drums. He and his brother Freddie along with their sisters Rose and Loretta, formed "The Stewart Four" as children, performing gospel music in the Church of God in Christ, recording a single local release 78 rpm single, "On the Battlefield" b/w "Walking in Jesus' Name," in 1952. The eldest sister, Loretta, was the only Stewart child not to pursue a musical career. The other Stewart children, including youngest sister Vaetta, would later adopt the surname "Stone" and pursue musical interests.
The nickname Sly was common for Sylvester throughout his years in grade school. While still in high school, Sylvester settled primarily on the guitar and joined several bands. One of these was the Viscaynes, a doo-wop group in which Sylvester and his Filipino friend Frank Arellano were the only non-white members. They released a few local singles, including "Yellow Moon" and "Stop What You Are ."After high school, Stone studied music at the Vallejo campus of Solano Community College. In the mid-1960s, Stone worked as a disc jockey for San Francisco, California, soul radio station KSOL. During the same period, he worked as a staff record producer for Autumn Records, producing for predominantly white San Francisco-area bands such as The Beau Brummels, The Mojo Men, Bobby Freeman, and Grace Slick's first band, The Great Society.
Stone influenced KSOL-AM into soul music and started calling the station K-SOUL. The second was a popular soul music station (sans the K-SOUL moniker) at 107.7 FM (now known as KSAN). Sly Stone played keyboard for dozens of major performers, including Dionne Warwick, Righteous Brothers, Ronettes, George & Teddy, Freddy Cannon, Marvin Gaye, Dick & Dee Dee, Jan & Dean, Gene Chandler, and many more, including at least one of the three Twist Party concerts by Chubby Checker held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1962 and 1963. In 1966, he performed with his band Sly and The Stone, including Cynthia Robinson, on trumpet. His brother Freddie worked with his band Freddie and the Stone Souls with Greg Errico and Jerry Martini. One night, the two stood in a kitchen, deciding to fuse the bands adding Larry Graham, who had studied music and worked in numerous groups.
Working around the Bay Area in 1967, this multiracial band made a strong impression. Later, in 1968, Rose Stone joined the band. He and producer Terry Melcher spent time together at Melcher's home in the late 1960s, and on more than one occasion, Stone saw Charles Manson there. Stone met Melcher's mother, Doris Day, through Melcher when Stone was interested in an old car that he thought one of them owned. When he met Day, he told her how much he liked her song "Whatever Will Be, Will Be," and they sat at the piano and sang it. After that, a rumor spread that Stone and Day were involved romantically. The group would notch hits including "Dance to the Music" (1968), "Everyday People" (1968), "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" (1969), "I Want to Take You Higher" (1969) "Family Affair" (1971) and "If You Want Me to Stay" (1973) and acclaimed albums including Stand! (1969), There's a Riot Goin' On (1971), and Fresh (1973).
Stone married model actress Kathy Silva on June 5, 1974. They separated in 1976 after Stone's dog mauled their son Sylvester Jr. Silva later told People magazine. "I didn't want that world of drugs and weirdness." Still, she remembers, "He'd write me a song or promise to change, and I'd try again. We were always fighting, then getting back together." Sylvyette, born c. 1976. Her mother was Cynthia Robinson. Novena Carmel is a singer, performer, and booking agent at the Little Temple club in Los Angeles. Currently, a co-host for the popular public radio station KCRW on Morning Becomes Eclectic. She also worked with pop/hip-hop musician Wallpaper. Stone's cousin is Moses Tyson, Jr., a gospel musician and organist. By the mid-1970s, Stone's drug use and erratic behavior effectively ended the group, leaving him to record several unsuccessful solo albums.
In 1993, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a group member. He participated in a Sly and the Family Stone tribute at the 2006 Grammy Awards, his first live performance since 1987. On August 18, 2009, Stone was reported homeless and living off welfare while staying in cheap hotels and a camper van. Stone's former manager, Jerry Goldstein, cut off his access to royalty payments following a dispute over a 'debt agreement,' forcing Stone to live in a van in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles. On Labor Day, 2009, Stone appeared at the 20th annual African Arts Festival in Chicago, Ill. He performed a 15-minute set during George Clinton's performance. He left immediately after his short performance.
In December 2009, Stone signed a new recording contract with the LA-based Cleopatra Records, and on August 16, 2011, I'm Back! Family & Friends was released, his first album since 1982. The album features re-recorded versions of Sly & the Family Stone hits with guest appearances from Jeff Beck, Ray Manzarek, Bootsy Collins, Ann Wilson, Carmine Appice, Johnny Winter, and three previously mentioned unreleased songs. Stone appeared in later years with Clinton and performed with his daughter Novena's band, Baby Stone. Stone sued his former managers in 2010, accusing them of cheating him out of years' worth of royalty payments for the songs he had written. He testified that he had no royalties between 1989 and 2009.
A jury in Los Angeles awarded him $5 million in damages in January 2015; Stone and four of his bandmates appeared at a convention dedicated to honoring the band and its legacy. LOVE CITY CONVENTION occurred in Oakland at the Den Lounge inside the Fox Oakland Theater. Sly was in good spirits, answered questions from fans, and signed autographs. In December, the appellate court ruled that the trial judge had not told the jury to consider that Stone had assigned his royalties to a production company for a 50% ownership stake. In May 2016, Stone's attorneys appealed that decision.
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