There was some sad news in the New York Post overnight, that soul and funk legend Sly Stone is broke and living out of a van in Los Angeles. Here is a snip:
But those days are gone.
Today, Sly Stone — one of the greatest figures in soul-music history — is homeless, his fortune stolen by a lethal combination of excess, substance abuse and financial mismanagement. He lays his head inside a white camper van ironically stamped with the words “Pleasure Way” on the side. The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where “Boyz n the Hood” was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house. The couple’s son serves as his assistant and driver.
Inside the van, the former mastermind of Sly & the Family Stone, now 68, continues to record music with the help of a laptop computer.
“I like my small camper,” he says, his voice raspy with age and years of hard living. “I just do not want to return to a fixed home. I cannot stand being in one place. I must keep moving.”
It is always difficult to see legends fall like this – countless jazz icons have had to appeal to the public to pay medical bills in recent years, and we have seen the fall from grace for many a revered rock and pop star of days past.
When faced with a seemingly endless stream of money, fame, and adulation, too many stars take bad advice, fall into drug abuse, and often succumb to mental and physical illness, not realizing what has happened until much too late.
The man who was controversial for fronting a multi-racial group that melded musical styles rose to super-stardom in the late 1960s and was at the center of his own rapid descent, becoming unreliable and then being abandoned by his band and by fans. Most kids will never have heard of him unless they have parents (or grandparents) who expose them to the music, and as the article says “You’d be forgiven for assuming he’s dead.”
So here’s hoping that Sly Stone finds his way back from whatever state he is in, but for now let’s just take a step back in time and remember why he is considered one of the great figures in funk and soul and such an important musical artist.