When I was a teenager my mom told me the story about how she found out my dad really loved her. When they were dating my dad drove her all the way to Detroit — a two-and-a-half hour trip — to see Sly and the Family Stone in concert. But when they arrived at the venue they discovered that the show had been canceled. And she knew he really loved her because when the gig was rescheduled my dad was willing to drive her back across the state to see the make-up date. True love!
I’ve always loved this story. First of all, it shows my parents were hip enough to be into Sly back in the day. Then, as I got older I decided it would make a juicier story to claim that I had been conceived after a Sly and the Family Stone concert, which would also explain why I am so damn funky. It’s simple if slightly salacious to reinterpret my mom’s “I knew he loved me” by adding the unsaid “…enough to do it with him” to the end.
Besides, I had already figured out that there were only seven months between their wedding and my birthday, so although my grandma always insisted that “sometimes the first one comes earlier” than the standard nine months, I realized that when my dad proposed to my mom at Big Boy’s they had gotten themselves into a bit of a situation. My mom said that since my dad (who was 28 at the time) had been married and divorced twice already, he couldn’t ask his friends for another wedding present so they eloped in Las Vegas.
The story has a happy ending: I was born and turned out awesome, and my parents had a happy, loving marriage.
But I recently started wondering if my interpretation of the Sly Stone story might actually be true. So I tried to find out if there indeed had been a Sly show in Detroit approximately nine months before I was born. Sure enough, a December 1970 article by the AP’s Mary Campbell verified my mom’s story (“A November concert in Detroit was canceled about an hour before it was to start. […] A make-up concert in Detroit, a week after the canceled one, subsequently is held.”), and the timing fits my version of events.
So I guess that proves beyond reasonable doubt why I am so damn funky.
Below are the things we’ve posted to Twitter recently. In reverse chronological order, just like Twitter… We’re reposting 196 tweets this time with a total of 109 links to stuff that (mostly) didn’t end up on GLONO.
Also included in this round are Phil’s comments on shows in Portland including the Maldives, Black Whales, the Jay Farrar/Ben Gibbard show he later reviewed, and the Motels! And my comments on “American Idol” and Conan O’Brien’s final “Tonight Show” that featured Neil Young and a group cover of “Freebird.” Oh, and lots of bitchy re-tweets from people who actually bothered to watch the Grammys.
# Do it! RT @slicingeyeballs: Book publisher to #morrissey: Please, please, please let me get what I want: your memoirs. http://ow.ly/12JHF about 11 hours ago
# Only as amazing as the songs and performances. RT @adamficek: How amazing would it be to record the next babyshambles album In Russia? about 11 hours ago
# Hey @rustyrockets word of advice, don’t wear boots with tapered pants. There’s a reason we have a “boot cut” option: http://ow.ly/12LWa about 13 hours ago
# Interesting. RT @iancr: Subscriptions are the New BLACK. (why Facebook, Google, & Apple will own your wallet by 2015): http://awe.sm/50MBA about 15 hours ago
Lots more after the jump, and you might consider following us on Twitter if you want to keep up with this stuff as it happens…
The morning of the show, Sly Stone is in Los Angeles. He fires his business manager. Sly tells the promoter that he’s his own boss now, that he’s the one who’s going to get paid at the show, and that he needs $3,000 wired to the bank account of an Iranian BMW saleswoman before he’ll even get on the plane to San Francisco.
And it’s all downhill from there. Except, of course, for the three and a half songs Sly performs before he exits the stage, telling the crowd, “I gotta go take a piss. I’ll be right back.” When he doesn’t come back, a high speed car chase ensues, culminating in stand-off with his band who now never wants to play with him again. Such a shame.
“My dad used to tell me, ‘If you work for it, you will have good consequences,’ ” Stone says. “So I thought what I was doing could be kinda big. And for a little while, the fame was what I expected it to be. But I soon realized there were other things involved in it. There was a down side, and the down side caused me to be very willing to just get off the scene. You get further down than you realize. Jimi [Hendrix], Janis [Joplin], and on and on. I’d see that kind of stuff [and their premature deaths], and I’d go, ‘Whoa.’ I’d start looking at the circumstances and realize I had to back off.”
Stone is vague about what happened next. But he insists he never stopped writing songs, hundreds of them.
I love Sly and the Family Stone. My mom once told me the story of how she first realized that my dad loved her. He drove her all the way to Detroit to see one of her favorite bands, Sly and the Family Stone. But the concert got cancelled at the last minute. The make-up concert was held a week later, and my dad once again drove my mom across the state. According to my mom, that proved he loved her.
Years after I first heard this story, I did some math with the dates of their wedding and my birthday and came to the conclusion that it is extremely likely that I was conceived after the concert. Which explains why I’m so damn funky!
This is great. Something I never would’ve imagined. Vanity Fair has an 8,000-word feature and interview with Sly Stone by David Kamp: Sly Stone’s Higher Power: Fame & Scandal. It’s a great read, with lots of surprising details.
This snippet reveals that his mind is sharp, and that he’s still as funny and weird as ever:
He doesn’t flinch when I broach the subject of his hunched posture and neck brace, but it’s clear he doesn’t want to break out the M.R.I.’s, either. “I fell off a cliff,” he says. “I was walking in my yard in Beverly Hills, missed my footing, and started doing flips. But you know what? I had a plate of food in my hand. And when I landed, I still had a plate of food in my hand. That’s the God-lovin’ truth. I did not drop a bean.”
I grew up on Sly’s music. I might’ve even been conceived after a Sly and the Family Stone concert (which would explain why I am so funky). I am very happy to hear that he’s well and doing okay. And while the idea of new music from him makes me a little nervous, it’s hard not to be excited by the idea. What if it’s great?
In the end you’ll still be you / One that’s done all the things you set out to do / There’s a cross for you to bear / Things to go through if you’re going anywhere…
Sly’s catalog has been criminally neglected. The label rushed out horribly mastered versions of the most popular albums in the early days of compact discs, but it took them until 1995 to release CD versions of the first three Sly albums, A Whole New Thing, Dance to the Music, and Life, each with a single bonus track: “What Would I Do,” “Soul Clappin’,” and “Only One Way Out of This Mess,” respectively. And now even those have gone out of print.
Hopefully this material will finally be given the respect it deserves.