meta-scriptBobby Z. On 'Prince And The Revolution: Live' & Why The Purple One Was Deeply Human |
Bobby Z. On 'Prince And The Revolution: Live' & Why The Purple One Was Deeply Human
Bobby Z. in 1989

Photo: Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images


Bobby Z. On 'Prince And The Revolution: Live' & Why The Purple One Was Deeply Human

Prince is rock royalty for good reason, but that level of reverence threatens to do him a disservice: He was a human being who brought people joy. Here, Revolution drummer Bobby Z. discusses how their newly released live album highlights his multitudes.

GRAMMYs/Jun 7, 2022 - 09:33 pm

Did you know that Prince performed "Yankee Doodle" — yes, that "Yankee Doodle" — at the peak of his career?

It's true. Onstage in Syracuse, New York, during the Purple Rain tour in 1985, the seven-time GRAMMY winner and his Revolution bridged the lascivious "Take Me With U" and "Do Me, Baby" with the goofy schoolyard classic. As the wheedly melody gave way to shimmering drones, he delivered a voice-of-God monologue: "Can you see me?" he asked the audience with a hint of vulnerability. "Can you hear me?"

By now, almost everyone in the Western world has seen and heard Prince. As Revolution drummer Bobby Z. puts it, Prince has become the legendary Purple One — "this mythical, immortal character." But vaunting Prince as such threatens to do a disservice to one of the hardest-working people in showbiz — by making him some kind of deity.

"Everyone knew him as kind of this odd guy. It's a mystery that he became the coolest guy in the world, you know what I mean?" says Z, a two-time GRAMMY winner himself. What brought this odd duck to the zenith of rock-stardom? A vanishingly rare confluence of brain-breaking talent and the mother of all killer instincts. And those qualities are blindingly apparent on Prince and the Revolution: Live.

That's the name of the newly released Prince and the Revolution live album, culled from that very Syracuse show and released June 3 — four days ahead of what would have been his 64th birthday. (Although, it must be said, he didn't celebrate birthdays.) Featuring classics from "1999" and "Little Red Corvette" to "Let's Pretend We're Married" performed at a head-spinning velocity, the collection is a treasure worth beholding.

What separates it from the other spectacular Prince live releases, like 2018's Piano and a Microphone 1983? His most famous band at full tilt, which allowed Prince to be the most himself he could ever be. Yes, the genius who wrote "Darling Nikki" is here, but also the lovable nerd who could somehow get away with a sexy soliloquy over "Yankee Doodle."

Prince and the Revolution: Live presents The Artist in all his multitudes — the hornball poet, the compositional savant, the born bandleader, the guitar firebrand, the odd duck determined to prove himself. And once its two hours have passed, you'll be reeling from a full Prince immersion. He may have been royalty among rock stars, but he was also incontrovertibly human. sat down with Bobby Z. about what fans will hear in Prince and the Revolution: Live — and what he believes is the most misunderstood thing about him.

When a fan picks up Prince and the Revolution: Live, what are they holding in their hands? What are we dealing with here?

What we're dealing with is basically: The Purple Rain tour had done 105 shows, and it was then time to decide what Prince wanted to do about Europe and Japan. To everyone's chagrin, he was already ready to move on. Before we even hit the stage in Detroit for the first show of the Purple Rain tour, Around in the World in a Day was already in the can. Mixed, mastered, ready to go.

And that was Prince! For him, it was like a secret: He was already on to the next thing, even though the public was still reveling in his music. So, the end of the road was coming, and there was going to be a break, and they were going to ship everything to Europe, and he said, "No."

His compromise was the relatively new invention of pay-per-view. Cable was just forming and things were just getting started. Satellites were starting to be available for commercial use. So, they came up with this innovative way to broadcast to Germany and then throughout Europe. They picked a couple of weeks before the end of the tour, which was Syracuse, New York, on March 30, 1985.

The [Carrier] Dome was a great location. He was fired up, and we performed live for the world. We recorded on tape, and now, Sony has expertly remixed and retooled and restored and brought this amazing show back to life.

It seems to have this quality that the greatest live shows have: unrepeatability. There were many superb Prince concerts, but there's only one of these.

Yeah. This [incorporated] many, many cameras and many, many angles. Any Prince concert shot well would be a memorable experience from his performance alone. But, I agree. The thing about Prince was that music was life and death. You can't move; your eyes are riveted. You are literally in suspended animation. It takes you to another place.

Whether he wanted it to or not, Purple Rain became a diamond because of the pressure, and the pressure was time. We now know that Prince would release an album per month if he could. He just had music flowing out of him. But we had to write the movie, rehearse the movie, shoot the movie, rehearse the tour, and then the record… there were many steps to this that created compression of time.

He had songs competing against each other. "The Beautiful Ones" kicked out "Electric Intercourse," which was a fantastic song that we recorded. The movie kicked it into high gear, and the tour was definitely the most ambitious, crazy thing to date.

I have to stop and give credit to LeRoy Bennett, the lightning designer who's now with Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga. He designed this amazing stage with elevators and Vari-Lites, which were the first versions of lights that move to the music. We called him the seventh member of the band. His genius made it even more spectacular.

What are your favorite moments on Prince and the Revolution: Live?

"Yankee Doodle" makes me chuckle. Any costume change, or when he would leave the stage, we had to create [backing vocalist] Lisa [Coleman] a moment. There are always these moments that are not just throwaway. Every moment was rehearsed and well-thought-out.

I loved just sitting back there and watching him play piano. I don't know if you saw the Beatles' Get Back; Ringo just watches McCartney. I kind of related to that. I just got to watch Prince's genius — sit there, take a breather and come in on cue. I had the best seat in the house.

That's what got me started — Ringo, and, of course, Buddy Rich on "The Tonight Show." It became interesting because I became a muse for electronic, playable drum machines unwittingly. 

Prince and I had a tech background. In the beginning, we were very unfamous together. I was working at his first manager Owen Husney's office as a driver and delivery boy. Prince would disrupt the office business and just ride around with me all day and do photocopy deliveries.

And we would shop for cassettes! Cassettes were so crappy that finding one with less hiss was [paramount]. So, the technical aspect really carried through. And when the Linn[Drum] happened — the drum machine — it was all new and pioneering. It was a far cry from Buddy Rich banging around on "The Tonight Show"!

Every decade has music that resonates and music that doesn't. To you, why does Prince's music endure?

Just like Lennon and McCartney, it's words and music. When you distill those songs — like he did at the very end, ironically, with Piano and a Microphone — and just take them and play them as songs with lyrics, they're beautiful, exquisitely-written songs.

When you add a powerful band behind it that's well-rehearsed and choreographed and lit and costumed and everything, it just enhances that. Prince had an unreal ability to write songs, and that's it right there.

So, it doesn't matter what the vibe is, or the flair, or the aesthetic — without a great song underneath, it's all bound to topple.

So many of them! And he's maybe the most prolific writer in all of history.

I met him, let's just say, in 1977. I knew him for 43 years. If you just say a song a day, you're probably not far off. You're talking about 14,000 songs. Cut that in half and it's 7,000 or 8,000 songs. I mean, this guy did that! And a great many of them were just incredible — and hits, on top of that!

By the numbers, it's staggering. But by theory, melody, as a percussionist — he did things on the three and two of a bar, unpredictable dots and pushes on a four-bar measure. There are only four bars and 12 notes in rock 'n' roll — sometimes it deviates — but what he could do with 4/4 time is incredible in its variation.

To embellish what we were talking about just a second ago, the recordings live on because of the nuances in these measures. In his repetitiveness, there's change constantly, which is known as ear candy, I guess. He could decorate a song in a way that keeps you listening and hearing new stuff every time you hear it.

**It's easy to take ultra-prolific artists from Prince to Stephen King for granted, but every artist's prolificity is driven by something. What internally drove Prince to create such a prodigious body of work?**

It's really hard to say. It goes back to the beginning. I used to think, "What would happen to him if this didn't happen?" because everyone knew him as kind of this odd guy. It's a mystery that he became the coolest guy in the world, you know what I mean?

When you meet the fans, [you realize] he attracted a different kind of person. He saved a lot of lives, in terms of giving people hope and direction. I think his hope was just a combination of DNA and a unique ability of music being like air, water, food. Just a strange adaptation of life in the music, in that it was just everything.

And performance was everything. Everything. Life was on the line. And he laid it out in a way that was just different from other musicians. I used to say he was like the Muhammad Ali of rock 'n' roll. He was after everybody, in a humorous way.

Do you think part of what drove him was plain old insecurity? Being the odd duck he was, I wonder if he felt that burning need to prove himself.

He wanted to prove himself over and over. And as a businessman, he did. The business became frustrating to him, the way the major-label system worked. He changed that. "The Artist" sold a hundred thousand albums out of his trunk, meaning on a website.

In so many ways, he gave artists a voice that still resonates to this day — about owning your masters and freedom and not giving away your rights in a very bold way. His challenge to the business is still giving artists confidence today — to speak up at a time when it was difficult to do that.

I think he evolved in so many different ways. We're talking about a little bit more innocent time. Syracuse was a dream realized. The movie, the album, the tour… it was definitely a long way from that '74 Pinto I was driving around doing photocopies.

For me to take him with him on that journey is something I will appreciate forever. He saved me from a normal life!

Prince aside, what's going on in your career? What else are you working on lately?

I've enjoyed producing records and assembling digital playlists for different labels. I really took to the streaming era and enjoy listening and spreading music in any way I can.

I ultimately enjoy playing with a band. We kind of resurrected the band after Prince passed. COVID stopped us, but we even played on the GRAMMY tribute to Prince, [which] was a fantastic evening. We got to play and honor our leader.

From your perspective, what's the biggest misunderstanding about Prince?

That he wasn't human. That he was this mythical, immortal character. In the early days, he was a band member. He was the leader, of course, but he had to be in a band. People got hungry; they wanted to go back to the hotel. He had to go through the motions at the beginning.

His work ethic was legendary, but at the same time, he had a warm side. He was funny. And the camaraderie was appreciated. He was kind of a binary character. Questions would be answered with questions. Sometimes, you couldn't get to the heart of the matter.

It would always be your choice on a musical part. You were right in his eyes or wrong in his eyes, but he appreciated the effort you put in. It's a big life lesson. He knew how to push people, but at the same time, he was a humorous, funny guy who enjoyed a good laugh.

He enjoyed a good concert. He was a fan. He loved being impressed by songs. He loved music. He loved other people's talent. He loved the whole thing about music, concerts, recording. He loved to learn about it and he loved to give it back.

I'm sure you miss him as much as ever.

Yeah, I do. I mean, the guy's intense. There's no doubt that having him in your life is a focus. My wife and I were talking the other day; he was great friends with her and loved her and gave us his blessing. But he's kind of more important than your parents sometimes!

He's really a presence in your life that you have to deal with. It's an honor and a privilege. It is sad that he's gone, but I definitely feel like it's important while the five of us are still alive, to carry this on and talk about his genius and his stage presence and skills as a bandleader.

It's critical. Life is short. And once we're gone, can anybody speak of it in the first person like this? They'll watch this thing, but it's great that people like you and others are pushing this and getting a whole new generation to see what Prince was.

I'll just say this: there's a lot of hubbub about the court, and who owns what, and how he passed, and the ending, and all that stuff. But what was all the fuss about to begin with? It was this. Just watch Syracuse; this is what the hubbub was. 

This is why Prince was Prince: because he was a figure skater up there. An unbelievable dancer, singer, performer, guitar player, bandleader. It's history, and there's nobody else like him.

Anything else you want to express about Prince and the Revolution: Live before we get out of here?

Just sit your kids down! And cover their eyes sometimes.

But, definitely, watch a real show, with real musicians playing real music. And watch some hard work in action that we loved giving back. He fired us up every night. At this particular show, he was frantic. He knew we were making history. He said it over and over again. And we did.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Lizzo Thanks Prince For His Influence After "About Damn Time" Wins Record Of The Year In 2023
Lizzo at the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


GRAMMY Rewind: Lizzo Thanks Prince For His Influence After "About Damn Time" Wins Record Of The Year In 2023

Watch Lizzo describe how Prince’s empowering sound led her to “dedicate my life to positive music” during her Record Of The Year acceptance speech for “About Damn Time” at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Jan 19, 2024 - 06:00 pm

Since the start of her career, four-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo has been making music that radiates positive energy. Her Record Of The Year win for "About Damn Time" at the 2023 GRAMMYs proved that being true to yourself and kind to one another always wins.

Travel back to revisit the moment Lizzo won her award in the coveted category in this episode of GRAMMY Rewind. 

"Um, huh?" Lizzo exclaimed at the start of her acceptance speech. "Let me tell you something. Me and Adele are having a good time, just enjoying ourselves and rooting for our friends. So, this is an amazing night. This is so unexpected."

Lizzo kicked off her GRAMMY acceptance speech by acknowledging Prince's influence on her sound. "When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music," she said. "This was at a time when positive music and feel-good music wasn't mainstream at that point and I felt very misunderstood. I felt on the outside looking in. But I stayed true to myself because I wanted to make the world a better place so I had to be that change."

As tracks like "Good as Hell" and "Truth Hurts" scaled the charts, she noticed more body positivity and self-love anthems from other artists. "I'm just so proud to be a part of it," she cheered.

Most importantly, Lizzo credited staying true to herself despite the pushback for her win. "I promise that you will attract people in your life who believe in you and support you," she said in front of a tearful audience that included Beyoncé and Taylor Swift in standing ovation, before giving a shout-out to her team, family, partner and producers on the record, Blake Slatkin and Ricky Reed

Watch the video above for Lizzo's complete acceptance speech for Record Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

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Behind 'Diamonds and Pearls' Super Deluxe Edition: A Fresh Look At Prince & The New Power Generation’s Creative Process

© Paisley Park Enterprises | Photographer: Randee St. Nicholas


Behind 'Diamonds and Pearls' Super Deluxe Edition: A Fresh Look At Prince & The New Power Generation’s Creative Process

With unreleased songs and a concert, a new series of box sets broadens the understanding of Prince's 'Diamonds and Pearls.' spoke with the New Power Generation's Tony Mosley about creating the 1991 release.

GRAMMYs/Oct 27, 2023 - 03:25 pm

When Prince released Diamonds and Pearls in October 1991, it represented both a sea change and return to form.

The 13th album since his 1978 debut, Diamonds and Pearls was Prince's first release with the New Power Generation — a band formed with several musicians who toured with him in the years since the Revolution. Where the Revolution, which disbanded in 1986, was synth-heavy, NPG were more guitar and percussion-centric. The new group was anchored by Rosie Gaines, a powerhouse vocalist and songwriter from the Bay Area, and rapper Tony M.

Aesthetically, the holographic album cover — which depicts Prince in close contact with two new faux girlfriends named Diamond and Pearl — reflected the sensuality and excess long associated with the Purple One. 

Fans devoured saucy singles such as the title track, "Gett Off," "Insatiable" and the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1, hit "Cream." The title track was nominated for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal at the 35th GRAMMY Awards; "Gett Off" was nominated for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal the previous year.

Thirty-two years later, on Oct. 27, Paisley Park Enterprises, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Records will release remastered standard, deluxe and "super deluxe" versions of the album in digital and various physical formats on Sony’s Legacy Recordings. The latest of several posthumous album reissues, this new suite of Diamonds and Pearls releases include a variety of fresh amenities.

For example, the super deluxe edition includes 33 unreleased studio recordings, 14 live songs, 15 remastered singles (which include remixes and edits) and three hours of video, including a full live performance of the album at Glam Slam, Prince’s former Minneapolis nightclub. The album wasn’t accompanied by a tour in America, so it’s a show that Stateside fans never got to see.

"Prince collectors are excited about every release, though mileage varies," says Scott Woods, author of Prince and Little Weird Black Boy Gods. "The gold for collectors is really in unreleased material…. Even if you don't like Diamonds and Pearls, you have to love the dozens of unreleased tracks that come with it.

"I don't know most of the unreleased tracks, so it's about to be Christmas in October for me," Woods adds. 

The unreleased songs provide a gift of insight into some of Prince’s musical interests that he explored in the early '90s, including hard guitar-driven rock, house, hip-hop and New Jack Swing. Yet the original release of Diamonds and Pearls showcases Prince's experimental nature.

"He took some chances — especially on me, to bring me into the fold," admits Tony M, a.k.a. Tony Mosley, the New Power Generation’s rapper who was also a dancer and appeared in Purple Rain. The pop community felt like Prince had ditched them and his fan base didn't want to hear rap, Mosley shared. "So how are we going to bridge this gap? There were plenty of times I felt like I was swinging at both sides." 

Mosley co-wrote and/or appeared on several songs on Diamonds and Pearls, including "Gett Off," and he contributed heavily to several of the previously unreleased songs on the super deluxe edition. Many of the previously unreleased songs contain riffs and iterations of ideas that appear on the original album track listing, so listeners can get a notion of how he refined the known songs along the way.

Since Prince was notoriously guarded about all of the unreleased material in his vaunted Paisley Park vault, he may not have wanted his fans to hear some of the works in progress that are included in the super deluxe edition. But they offer a much-welcomed window into his creative processes that will strengthen a fan’s ardor for the artist.

"[Prince] was so protective and so reclusive on a lot of this stuff," Mosley says. 

"Some of [the tracks], we were like, ‘Man, this is it, you need to drop this now!’ But it would never see the light of day. I’m glad, in the same breath, that some of these things are coming out, because you see a different side to him… it gives the fans an opportunity to see how he progressed and began to put songs together."

While none of the tracks were finished, the foundation was there, Mosley explained. "Once he brought in the musicians to expand upon the original idea, you start to see it flourish and grow and bloom into something totally different."

"I remember being fascinated with the rapper on the album, Tony M," Public Enemy frontman Chuck D wrote in an essay that accompanies the super deluxe edition called "He Taught Everyone You Can Never Make Too Much Music." "I thought he was just dope, thought what they were doing was funkier and more on point than anything that was going on in the rap circles and R&B at that moment, and they were on it.

"Prince definitely used rap as an instrument. He kept the tempos up and strong, and the music was giving it air and space, and I don’t think a lot of rap records were doing that," he continued.

The beyond-prolific Prince didn’t exactly have patience for the long album cycles that were typical from major labels of the era. While he was touring the Diamonds and Pearls album, he was writing songs that would appear on 1992’s Love Symbol.

"By the time [Diamonds and Pearls] came out, we had three more albums in the can and he was ready for the next project," Mosley recalls, "and I just remember listening to the argument over and over and over again. You know, Warner Brothers looks at it from a business perspective — they’re, like, ‘Dude, there’s five more singles on this album, we need to work this.’ And Prince was like, ‘I’m done, I’m ready to drop the next one.’"

Remembered for its nakedly brazen jams (and the accompanying assless outfits) as well as its super sweet ballads, Diamonds and Pearls remains a highly listenable effort among Prince’s vast discography.

"It holds its value," Mosley says of hearing the album today. "We were moving so fast at the time and we were just constantly recording and you didn’t really have time to sit back and reflect on what you had just created because he had moved on. So you had to move at that pace. When I go back and I start to listen to a lot of that stuff, I say, man, we really did some different things, some creative things.

"It was frustrating at times. But, he had his vision, and one thing he always schooled me to do and taught me along the way, he said, ‘Tony, I don’t write for everybody else, I write for me and what I’m feeling," Mosley recalls. "So when you write, don’t write to impress a certain demographic or community, write what comes from you.’" 

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9 Things We Learned From Sly Stone's New Memoir
Sly Stone in 1973

Photo: ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images


9 Things We Learned From Sly Stone's New Memoir

The recently released 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)' reflects on Sly Stone's career and personal history with a focus on the late '60s through the 1980s.

GRAMMYs/Oct 18, 2023 - 07:51 pm

Nearly 60 years into his career, Sly Stone remains thankful.

His recently released memoir, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), offers an earnest look into the life and music of the funk and soul giant.

"He's at the top of the pantheon for a certain part of rock ‘n’ roll and funk and soul, and should stay there," says Ben Greenman, who co-authored the memoir.

The book – which is the inaugural release on Questlove’s publishing imprint, AUWA Books – pulls its title from Sly and the Family Stone’s 1969 single of the same name.

"When I'm co-writing with somebody, they start to define the rhythm," says Greenman, who’s also co-written memoirs from Questlove, Brian Wilson, and George Clinton. "Sometimes I'll pitch a certain structure. Other times in the course of talking, they start to develop their own sense and rhythm of things and then you have to reflect that."

Thank You comes over 40 years since Stone released his final album, Ain’t But the One Way, and reflects on the musician’s career, along with surprising, little-known moments. To Greenman, Stone’s tales were reflective of his headspace in the late-1960s and throughout the ‘80s, when  the artist was often preoccupied with a chaotic rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

Towards the midpoint of the book, Stone hilariously shared that he once loaned a Cadillac to  Etta James, although the police later discovered that the vehicle was stolen. 

"The assumption that I had is ‘Oh my God, you gave her this car and good faith and then it turned out it was stolen. How embarrassing, Greenman explains. "But the vibe I got was he probably knew, he just thought that the fake papers on it would hold. That story was so strange and weird and out of nowhere, but sort of representative of what it must have been [like] to be him at that time."

Despite certain points of misfortunes in Stone’s journey, including decades-long drug abuse, the Sly and the Family Stone frontman carried on as an prestigious musical act. To honor Stone’s legacy and Thank You, here are nine takeaways from the book. 

Stone Started Out In A Family Group

Stone, born Sylvester Stewart, began in music as part of 1950s family gospel group the Stewart Four. The second of five children, the Pentacostal family  got their start in church upon relocating from Denton, Texas to Vallejo, California. The siblings all learned an recited material by gospel pioneers Mahalia Jackson, the Soul Stirrers, Brother Joe May and the Swan Silvertones.

Stone’s parents, K.C. and Alpha, were multi-instrumentalists who noticed their children’s musical forte, and the Stewart Four signed a hyperlocal single deal with the Church of God in Christ, the Northern California Sunday School Dept. Released in 1956, Stone’s first-ever record "On The Battlefield / Walking In Jesus Name" was limited to roughly 100 copies.

Stone Influenced Herbie Hancock And Miles Davis

Sly and the Family Stone debuted in 1967 with A Whole New Thing, and the collective reinvented funk and progressive soul with follow-ups Dance to the Music, Life, Stand!, and their 1971 landmark There's a Riot Goin' On. Their 1973 album Fresh came at an auspicious time for Sly devotees.

Jazz greats Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock took notice of Stone's musicianship. The artist was a direct influence for Hancock’s seminal 1973 album Head Hunters, which includes a punchy jazz fusion cut named after Stone.

Stone recalls that in 1973, Columbia Records dropped multiple jazz acts, including  Charles Mingus, Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, in favor of rock and funk artists. Miles Davis was fascinated by the introductory Fresh track "In Time"; according to Stone, Davis was rumored to have replayed the song for his band to "work out the rhythms of it."

The Black Panther Party Took Offense To The Family Stone 

Sly and the Family Stone almost ended before the group went mainstream. In the ‘60s, the Bay Area-based group were neighbors to the Oakland chapter of the Black Panther Party. 

The organization protested the band’s for leaning into "what White America wanted," per Stone. The Panthers disdained the presence of white members Jerry Martini (saxophonist) and Greg Errico (drummer), pressuring Stone to get rid of the musicians. 

Early BPP leader Eldridge Cleaver also wanted Stone to make a six-figure donation to the cause, which Stone refused. Stone condemned the Panthers’ defiance of laws  and considered his group to be politically neutral.

Bob Marley And The Wailers Were Removed From The Family Stone’s 1973 Tour

In October 1973, Bob Marley and the Wailers began their first U.S. tour as a supporting act for Sly and the Family Stone. The 17-date tour ended after four shows for the reggae band, who had just released their seminal Catch A Fire. 

From Stone’s perspective, the Wailers weren’t a "good match" for American crowds at the time, and Bunny Wailer was no longer performing with the group. Stone dismissed allegations that his group felt they were upstaged.

"They played slow. They had accents," Stone wrote about the Wailers, adding, "There was no offense on our part but we shipped them off."

"How was Bob a threat to Sly Stone?" Joe Higgs, in the 2017 Marley biography So Much Things to Say. People said they can’t hear us: our accent, they couldn’t understand; our rhythm, too slow. We weren’t happening. And our outfits were inappropriate. We were rebels."

Stone And Kathy Silva Had 20,000 Guests At Their Madison Square Garden Wedding

Stone’s marriage to actress-model Kathy Silva was arguably the first concert-turned-wedding. The couple wed on June 5, 1974 at Madison Square Garden. Plans were made in a rush, and guests who received invitations were asked to RSVP by May 31.

An audience of almost 20,000 (some who paid as little as $8.50) attended the wedding ceremony, which doubled as Sly and the Family Stone’s concert. The Temptations co-founder Eddie Kendricks performed first before Stone’s mother and niece, Lisa, gave religious acknowledgements. 

Later, on the Starlight Roof at the Waldorf Astoria, champagne flowed and guests dug into a cake shaped like a vinyl record. A reception featured soul food and Japanese cuisine, honoring their Black and Hawaiian heritage.

The day after the special occasion, Stone discovered that wedding officiant Bishop B.R. Stewart wasn't registered in New York, but paperwork was hurried to the city clerk to make the marriage legally official.

Stone And Prince Almost Collaborated

Although Sly and the Family Stone disbanded in 1983, Stone had his eyes on up-and-coming artists. Stone was told that a young Prince was a "new version" of himself and peers Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix. Stone’s then-girlfriend (and now-manager) Arlene Hirschkowitz encouraged  the artists to collaborate following a late-’80s meeting at L.A.’s Roxbury Club. 

"I wasn't always on Prince, but that day I was," Stone wrote. "I told [Hirschkowitz] that I was excited about the idea and I meant it. But he never called."

Stone And George Clinton Were Close Friends 

In the mid-’70s Sly and the Family Stone was a supporting act on the collective’s P-Funk Earth Tour. After the Family Stone disbanded in the ‘80s, Sly Stone reconnected with fellow funkateer George Clinton. 

Clinton owned a farm in Michigan, where he and Stone dabbled in recreational drugs in their downtime. The two closely worked together, with Stone co-writing "Catch a Keeper" for Clinton’s all-female group the Brides of Funkenstein, composed of four women who were previously Stone’s background vocalists. The song was later released by the P-Funk All-Stars, and the Funkenstein was shelved, but Stone also had a writing credit on 1981 Funkadelic album The Electric Spanking of War Babies ("Funk Gets Stronger").

As Stone’s collaboration with P-Funk continued, he noticed that bassist and vocalist Bootsy Collins replicated his style. "Sometimes when I was out walking people would call to me, ‘Bootsy! Bootsy!’ I didn’t mind it so much," Stone wrote.

Michael Jackson Offered To Return Sly Stone’s Catalog

Stone was friendly with the Jackson family, mainly vocalist and former Jackson 5 member, Jermaine, but it was Michael Jackson who upheld Stone’s music. In 1983, Jackson acquired the international rights to Sly and the Family Stone’s catalog. The acquisition was Jackson’s first under his publishing company, MIJAC Music, as Stone didn’t assume that the group’s old songs were of monetary value.

Shortly before his death, Jackson offered to return Stone’s catalog under an agreement that he would go to substance abuse rehab. Stone disagreed with Jackson’s terms, even being a no-show to a meeting that the King of Pop scheduled. Stone later tried to make amends by sending  Jackson a letter, though Jackson never received it. Someone sold the letter as memorabilia. 

In 2019, Stone closed a deal with MIJAC, allowing Stone to keep minority interest in the catalog and resume collecting on his music.

Sly Stone Was Honored With A Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award

The music of Sly and the Family Stone was featured in a tribute performance at the 2006 GRAMMYs. The Nile Rodgers-curated ceremony consisted of tribute performances from Joss Stone, John Legend, and Van Hunt ("Family Affair"), Maroon 5 ("Everyday People"), ("Dance to the Music"), with Steven Tyler and Stone ending with "I Wanna Take You Higher." The live show was Stone’s first since 1987.  

In 2017, Sly Stone was honored with the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement special merit award.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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