Sly & the Family Stone have dug into the vaults for today's (July 17) release of Live at the Fillmore East October 4th & 5th, 1968, a four-CD set that features four sets the group played over those two days -- on the same bill with the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Eric Burdon & the Animals.
The shows came just after the troupe landed its first big hit, "Dance To the Music," and Epic Records planned to release a live album at the time, but that plan was scuttled when the Family Stone's next single, "Everyday People," became a huge hit and the company went with a studio album instead.
Though the group was formed in San Francisco, saxophonist Jerry Martini tells us that New York was where the group built its first big following:
"We moved to New York when we weren't getting the acts that we wanted. We were a little strange for the West Coast at the time, even though it was hippie time, hippies and long hair and all that stuff, Haight-Ashbury. We were still different and...The New Yorkers embraced our band...The fact that I was white, long-haired, wearing an orange top and purple pants, they thought it was cool in the fact that we looked and did what we did."
Drummer Gregg Errico, meanwhile, says that the Fillmore shows caught the Family Stone at a musical peak:
"The band was at the top of its game at that point...I get a chill listen to (the tapes) 'cause there's moments on those recordings that, I mean, the hair stands up on my arms, just, where the band lifts up and takes off. It's amazing."
Martini, Errico and trumpeter Cynthia Robinson continue to tour as the Family Stone and recently released a new single, "Do Yo Dance."
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.