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“ It was a good title, A Whole New Thing, because it was a whole new thing,” he says.
“Dance to the Music [in 1968] changed everything, but by then we’d been playing together a lot longer.” Graham’s brilliantly lissom, inventive bass, and his call to arms – “I’m gonna add some bottom, so that the dancers just won’t hide” – crystallised both the hedonism of that genre-busting hit and the entire Family Stone heyday, from Everyday People to Hot Fun in the Summertime and so many others.
Sly himself wrote with typical flamboyance on the Dance to the Music album cover: “Larry is as funky as nine cans of wet magic shave.” Both in step with Flower Power and at one remove from it, the group indulged in drugs, but knew when to stop. “Everybody did it, I mean, you didn’t even think about it as a scene,” he says. But it was just a matter of what you did and how much you chose to do.
Some people made better choices than others.” The comment hangs for a moment, an obvious reference to the drug-raddled decline of Sly himself, who by some reports now lives in a van in greater Los Angeles, by others is mounting a comeback of sorts, with an album of remakes of his hits released last year.
“I’ve never stopped writing and creating, because that’s what I do,” he says. Everybody's got to raise up every now and then, otherwise you just stay down.” Graham is too softly spoken to claim it, but Sly & the Family Stone stretched the boundaries of soul and allowed the members of this bohemian band and thousands of others to inhabit a whole new playground.
“You had black, white, male, female, and we sounded different to everybody,” says Graham.
“One thing that was the genius behind Sly’s success as a songwriter and producer was in allowing everybody to be themselves.” Born in Beaumont, Texas, Graham and his family moved when he was three to California.
He was raised largely by his grandmother when his piano-playing mother, Dell, started to work internationally.
Featuring a cameo by another disciple, Raphael Saadiq, it fulfils the title’s promise, with old-school funkateer brio and impassioned balladeering.If everybody starts dropping dead at 30 or 40, it might be good to look into it.” He smiles as he leafs through some old Family Stone record covers and photographs. “The worst thing that could happen to me is for something to happen to any member of my group,” Stone wrote in 1968. : Although it evokes many contemporary sitcoms, it is totally singular.Series creator Issa Rae has a perspective that is, to use the preferred euphemism, underrepresented in television and film, and a vision she’s been honing since she launched her hit You Tube series .That web series articulated Rae’s comic voice, but it was a rough sketch of her vision, so it was hard to tell what she could do if she were granted access to the vast resources of a network like, say, HBO.
The music consultant is Solange Knowles, hipster kid-sister of Queen Bey, who is now a star in her own right having just scored her first No. If that’s not enough, R&B legend Raphael Saadiq composed the slick score.