If you want to sit down and talk musical legends with impossible-to-overstate cultural influence, seminal San Francisco psych funk group Sly & the Family Stone are going to be at the top of your list.
Formed in 1967 when Sly and his brother Freddie combined their bands—Sly & the Stoners and Freddie & the Stone Souls—the new group was signed to Epic Records and had their debut album, A Whole New Thing, released in the same year. Yet it wasn’t until 1968’s Dance to the Music dropped, with the title track reaching the Top Ten on the charts, that the group’s soon-to-be overarching influence began to be felt.
Almost immediately, other acts began to jump on their psychedelic soul sounds. Otis Williams, leader of The Temptations, convinced Motown producer Norman Whitfield to apply the style to the Temptations’ new album, Cloud Nine, which would go on to win the band, and Motown, their first Grammy.
With their fourth album, Stand, Sly & the Family Stone finally got their own No. 1 hit, as well as a spot at the legendary Woodstock festival. It was around this time, however, that trouble started to seep in, with the band becoming heavily entrenched in drugs, specifically, sources say, cocaine and PCP. Allegedly, Stone carried a violin case of drugs at all times. While the band would go on to produce more than half a dozen more albums, their work up through 1971’s There’s a Riot Going On are held as the most significant, their influence still heard in today’s music.
Now, for the first time, a run of shows the band played during their heyday in 1968 at legendary NYC venue the Fillmore East is being released, on July 17. Featuring four total performances in their entirety, the performances have the band in their prime, full of energy, positivity, and excitement.
As the Roots guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas, who compiled some favorite tracks from the shows for a vinyl-only release for Record Store Day, said, “This performance is living breathing evidence of how much of a force of nature Sly & the Family Stone were at this point of their career. Every member of the group shines in a way that I can only describe as a revelation.”
Listen to an exclusive stream of “Color Me True” below.
Family Stone drummer Greg Errico, who played these shows, had remembered the nights well.
“The Fillmore had a heavy, humid feel to it. It felt important, though, like everyone was focused and listening intently. The song was about being true to yourself and others, living your life as to how you feel in your heart! I've always felt that these series of shows displayed moments of musical inertia, of a band that was not to be stopped of its intent."
Preorder is available now by clicking here.