Sly Stone was one of the greatest disappointments ever in the history of music. He was a gifted artist with an uncanny knack for writing simple and infectious songs that crossed black and white barriers in combining pop, rock, funk, R&B, and even early strains of hip hop. Songs like"I Want to Take You Higher," "Family Affair," "Dance to the Music," "Everyday People," and "There's a Riot Going On" brought him huge success and at the same time made him a magnet for bad people with bad intentions.
The author managed to conduct one of the first face-to-face interviews the multi-instrumentalist has agreed to in about two decades. Additionally, Kaliss was able to talk to ex-Sly
and the Family Stone members, managers, and an assembly of people who were there.
Born Sylvester Stewart in Denton, Texas, Sly eventually made his way to San Francisco where he mingled with the other Summer of Love stars-in-waiting. He performed at the historic venues of the day - Bill Graham's Fillmore and others - and then, in 1969, he tore up the world with his performance at the famous Woodstock festival.
All of that is detailed here. That includes Stone's own self-destruction through drugs and bad choices and legendary ruthlessness. He regularly abused his band members vocally and emotionally, somehow trying to fill up some never-ending hole in his own soul.
He could have been as big as Stevie Wonder and as influential as Prince and Ray Charles. Today, he remains as little more than a big footnote. But he still needs to be remembered for the music he made, and that history resides right here between these two covers.