Sly & The Family Stone is our Featured Artist for the whole summer of 2013. It's "Hot Fun in the Summertime" on the Alley this year!

Sylvester Stewart was a Bay Area disc jockey and record producer before he formed his mixed gender, multiracial powerhouse in 1967. Along with James Brown and George Clinton (Parliament/Funkadelic), Sly & The Family Stone were essential creators of funk music.

Between 1968 and 1971, with a succession of dynamic hit singles and two classic albums (Stand! and There's A Riot Goin' On), Sly & The Family Stone energized and helped to transform the future of black music. For example, writer-producer Norman Whitfield turned the Temptations from old-school soul to new-school funk on a dime with songs like "Cloud Nine" in 1968 and "Ball of Confusion" in 1970.

Sly & The Family Stone wrote and performed infectious songs with churning beats, catchy melodies, and memorable instrumental and vocal riffs. Many of their songs featured inspiring social commentary and anthem-quality chants. On the same album they sang both the the hard-nosed "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey - Don't Call Me Whitey, Nigger" and the egalitarian "Everyday People" ("different strokes for different folks").

Sly & The Family Stone was an incredible live act with equal following among black and white audiences. Their performance of "I Want to Take You Higher" at Woodstock is legendary. Three other great examples of live performances from YouTube will appear on our Home Page all summer long.

An almost-perfect, career-spanning CD collection can be found here on Amazon.com. In 1969 I wore out the grooves of my copy of Stand!. These days it's more likely to be the Essential CD. The music of Sly & The Family Stone still sounds distinctive and fresh today.