July 14, 2007

Sly Stone - last of the "rock-era recluses"

Photograph by Herb Greene

Bedazzled! has a recent fax sent by Sly Stone to the writer of a current Vanity Fair article about him. Based on the fax, it would appear that Sly Stone is as funky, intelligent, and bizarre as ever. The author of the Vanity Fair interview (David Kamp) points out that Stone is really the last of the "rock-era recluses":

Sly Stone is my favorite of the rock-era recluses, and, really, the only big one left. Syd Barrett, the architect of Pink Floyd's entrancingly loopy early sound, passed away last summer at the age of 60, having resisted all entreaties to explain himself or sing again. Brian Wilson, the fragile visionary behind the Beach Boys, has been gently coaxed out of his shell by his friends and acolytes, and now performs and schmoozes regularly. He doesn't count as a recluse anymore.

I suppose Phil Spector has also lost the title of "rock-era recluse," seeing as he is on CourtTV nearly every day now. And, the granddaddy of all recluses, J.D. Salinger, obviously doesn't fit the "rock-era" label. So there probably aren't any other rock musicians, who were as successful as Sly Stone (critically and commercially), who simply dropped out and disappeared.

Stone dropped out of sight around the mid-seventies, and his public appearances since have been rare, one being his participation in Sly and the Family Stone's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, another the 2006 Grammy Awards where he sported the blond mohawk. Prior to either of those, the only time Stone came out of his hole since the seventies was in 1986 when he participated in the recording and video of a song off of Jesse Johnson's Shockadelica album, called "Crazay."

Again from the Vanity Fair article:

The last new music he recorded for commercial release came out in 1986: a duet with Jesse Johnson, of the Minneapolis group the Time, on Johnson's solo single "Crazay"—an acceptable but undistinguished slice of period shoulder-pad funk. "I don't even know what that song was about, to this day," Stone says. "I just happened to go in the studio."

He looks good in the video, not yet walking in the hunched over manner he was at the 2006 Grammys (in the Vanity Fair interview, Stone claims: "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."). Here is that video, minus beans or hunched backs:

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