Introduction to Sly, Little Sister and the Family Stone
lots of irony in the fact that Michael Jackson
saw fit to scoop up the publishing rights to the music of both the Beatles
and Sly and the Family Stone. For MTV's first generation, Jackson represented
the king of "crossover," but people with longer memories know that Sly
and the Family Stone laid claim to that crown a full decade earlier.
In fact, when the Beatles went their separate ways in 1970, lots of
discerning music fans looked to Sly and his band mates to fill the void
the Fab Four left behind.
The group's broad-based appeal was built on the most uplifting of principles.
"I Want to Take You Higher,""You Can Make It If You
Try,""Stand!""Dance to the Music"
- these and other anthemic celebrations of social, racial, and sexual
unity amounted to rallying cries for togetherness and understanding.
Likewise, more straightforward pop fare such as "Everyday
People" and "Everybody
is a Star" were eloquent meditations on harmony and equality. And
the fact that Sly's message came wrapped in a psychedelic-funk package
the likes of which no one had ever heard only added to its power.
Note: Russell Hall is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in
Goldmine, Request, the Oxford American, and other publications.
The group Little
Sister was a female trio organized by Sly Stone consisting of Vaetta
Stewart (Sly's little sister of course), Mary McCreary and Elva Mouton.
The group had two Top Ten R&B singles.
"You're the One-Part 1" reached #4 of the R&B charts in the
early part of 1970 and "Somebody's
Watching You" reached #8 on the R&B charts in late 1970. These
singles capture the same spirit as the seminal Sly & The Family
Stone album, "There's
A Riot Goin' On," which was released at the end of 1971. Little
Sister was involved from the first Family Stone album, "A
Whole New Thing"and subsequently sang backup vocals on many, if
not most of Sly & the Family Stone's records. They are featured
heavily on the Sly & the Family Stone album Fresh. The recently
released, "The Essential Sly & The Family Stone," showcases the
Little Sister contribution
as the remastering process has brought their voices to the fore.
Many fans speculate that Little Sister released a whole album, when
in truth, four singles were released. They were, "You're The One"
Pt. I, "You're The One" Pt. II, "Stanga" and "Somebody's
Watching You" . The singles were all written, arranged and produced
by Sly. The release of "Somebody's Watching You" marks
the first time a drum machine then called a "rhythm box" or
"funk box" was used in a popular recording, a frequently
used item in the studio some 35 years later. The same machine was used
again on the #1 single from There's a Riot Goin' On "Family Affair"
which propelled the new instrument into the spotlight even further.
All Little Sister singles were released on Sly's own Stoneflower label
through an exclusive agreement with Atlantic Records.
Other artists who were released
on Stoneflower included Joe Hicks and the group 6ix.
Little Sister You're the One (I and II) Stone Flower
Little Sister Somebody's Watching You b/w Stanga Stone Flower 9001
6ix I'm Just Like You b/w Dynamite Stone Flower 9002
Joe Hicks Life & Death in G & A (I and II) Stone Flower 9003
The Little Sister singles also came out in various alternate formats:
You're the One pt 1 one sided white label promo Stone Flower 9000
Stanga / same (mono) white label promo Stone Flower 45 9001
Somebody's Watching You one sided Stone Flower 9001
Somebody's Watching You / same white label promo Stone Flower 9001