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band associates talk about the drugs and violence that led up to the ouster of bassist Larry Graham After a triumphant performance at Woodstock and the breakthrough success of hits like "Everyday People" and "Family Affair," Sly Stone stood at the top of both the black and white music worlds.
He was a long way from the young San Francisco disc jockey who still lived with his parents in the Ingleside district. In the four years since he formed his band, Stone, born, had drastically changed the face of black music. His acolytes included such towering figures as and. But all was not well kate spade outlet canada with his band, Sly and the Family Stone. Its leader was succumbing to excesses of drugs and ego. Violence and intimidation had filled the Sly and the Family Stone camp by November 1972, when the group's original bassist,, was run out of the group. Although Graham went on to form his own successful band,, and become recognized as the inventor of the thumb plucking style of funk bass, these were dark days for the young musician. The story of the frightening time leading up to Graham's expulsion by Sly's henchmen who had beaten members of the band's road crew had never been told until band members and associates were interviewed for the new oral history of the pioneering soul rock band, "For the Record: Sly and the Family Stone" by Chronicle Pop Music Critic Joel Selvin (; $12). Following is an excerpt. Hamp (Bubba) Banks (Sly's personal assistant): I was the cat that fired Larry Graham. We were in New York City, getting ready to go to Madison Square Garden. Larry Graham had his whole little entourage, and Sly hated this cat. I hated him, too. I called and said that it was time to be at the limousine. Now, he's got his henchmen. Sly is no longer the only cat with the bad guy. (Larry's) got himself his own tough guy. I said, "Put Larry on the phone and tell him the car is waiting downstairs." He said, "Tell everybody to go ahead." I said, "No, you are coming down now." I sent everybody else and stayed in his car. I was getting ready to intimidate now. I went in his room and his little henchman was walking around behind me. I decided to do something to him after the gig at Madison Square Garden. (band manager): We were playing Madison Square Garden and then we were gonna be flying back to do a show in Los Angeles. I had to hire a jet in the middle of the night and get them back here. We flew back in the middle of the night. Sly was sleeping, but we knew we had to catch the plane. We actually sacked Sly on a chair and had two guys carry the chair down the elevator and go through the lobby of the hotel, to the back entrance on 58th Street. All the security guards were looking at this guy going out in a chair. They thought he was dead. The limousine was there and Sly had a plaid vest and leather black pants on. The guy stopped me at the door because they thought he was dead. We said, "He is sleeping." They said, "How do you know that he is sleeping?" "When he goes through this door, you will see that he is sleeping." Why? Because it is freezing. It was so cold, when the door opened, Sly went "whef." He just woke up. We pushed the chair and threw him into the car. We went to the plane back to California. Coliseum. Coliseum. We didn't know if we could get the equipment turned around fast enough. What we planned on using was all brand new Acoustics, out of the box, delivered from the factory to the job. We had a private jet, so there was no room. We had a 24 footer full of gear. All I would do was take the organs on the plane with me. No way we were going to get it done. Vernon (Moose) Constan (road crew): Everything was working good (before the show at Madison Square Garden), but Sly was all screwed up. He could hardly walk. He was really f up on drugs. He got up onstage and he tried to play this Farfisa organ, a new one. He thought that it wasn't working. I don't know if it was really busted or not. So he made this announcement. "Moose, get out here and fix this organ. Here's the guy. It's all his fault this is not working." I went out there and did something. I don't know if I really did anything, but I got it working. He went back out and played. He was mumbling and he was obviously too f up to be out there. Joyce: There was some f major problems that night. Stevie Wonder opened the show and kicked our ass. Sly had to come out behind that. There was some technical difficulties. We got it licked in minutes. We had a bad show. Sly was getting booed. When Sly came offstage, he pointed his finger at me, indicating it was my fault. I said, "Hey, it wasn't my fault." Constan: Sly came into my kate spade coupon room. I was sitting on the bed. He said, "Why did you do this to me give me the f organs that don't work?" I said, "There was nothing wrong." Boom, somebody kicked me in the head. They were all standing over me, like, do you want me to kill him? They did me in pretty good. I had cuts on my face. I was almost knocked unconscious on the first blow. They went through their karate s and f me up a little bit, mainly to the head. I didn't have any broken ribs. I was sitting down, so I just fell back on the bed. I don't even know who it was. I never even saw the guy. He just kicked me from behind. They left. They took Rob's (Joyce's) girlfriend. We were really worried about finding her because she was, like, kidnapped, didn't want kate spade outlet deals to go with them. They took her. I got pretty tore up. I went to the hospital for a concussion. Edward () Elliott (associate of Banks): That was my kate spade private sale party. Moose, he stole equipment or something. He tells me, "If you think I did it, do what you are going to do." I looked at Bub (Banks). Bub looked at me and it was on. I was all over him like a cheap suit. Sly just... he wanted to be in it. After it was over, if I remember correctly, Sly might have went over there and did something. I don't know. To be in it, it wasn't natural for him. Joyce: Knock on the door, a bunch of men come into the room, whale on me and leave. Sly was in the room. Bubba was in the room. I couldn't believe I was getting whacked by him. That changed my life. A guy named was in the room. I really can't remember what that was about. It was so traumatic. When they came in, Vern (Constan) was in the room, too. It was our room. That was a terrible thing to happen, because I loved Sly. I would have done anything for him. I worked night and day.... I chal lenged Sly in front of them. Right onstage in the Coliseum. Terrible night. I will tell you this, that night was based on PCP. Both guys were doing that. Acting all funny. It was new then. Moose quit and left. He never came back. That was his last night. Banks: We get to Los Angeles. I call my man and tell him to meet me at the airport and bring a pistol. I had two dudes around me that, if they were here, you would feel uncomfortable.... Larry gets off and he has still got his little henchmen. Sly's got all his little flunkies and they is all doing the Sly flunky thing. Larry has got all his flunkies and they is doing the Larry flunky thing. He is matching Sly now. We go to the arena, flew right in. Everybody gets to their dressing room. I can't wait. My man is ready. They do the gig, but Larry smells a rat and they got out of there. But we all are staying down on Wilshire. Elliott: We heard that Larry Graham had got a hit man to do Sly. Hit man? This is getting good. We were in the lobby. We looked up and here comes Larry and some dudes down the stairs. I got behind the stairs and when they came down, we worked them. We put the street on 'em. Their mouths got them in trouble.... We worked them so good. There was no getting away from us. We left some of them laying out. Banks: Somebody tells me that Larry and his henchmen are in the lobby. I don't know why, but I had a walking cane in my hand. When I looked up, I'm in the lobby, and Larry's man is there. I took the walking cane and broke it over his head. We started whipping this cat so bad, I don't know if he was ever heard from again. But we whipped him so bad, Larry was able to escape. He got out of there quick. That's why I say I fired him. That was the end of Larry Graham. Pat Rizzo (saxophonist): I was the one that got him and his girlfriend out of the hotel. That was f scary. I saved Larry's life. We did a show at the Coliseum and all the equipment was f up. The Hammond organ, everything. We went on to play, but everyone was pretty f up, especially Sly. We didn't even get through one song, I don't think. What flared up the hostility at the Cavalier? I don't know. We got out of there just in the f nick of time. They were going to kill Larry. I don't know why. Larry Graham: There comes a time when somebody leaves a family situation because it is time to go.... It became time for me to go. That is basically it. I didn't see a scene at the hotel. I heard about some negative things that went down, but I didn't see it. Actually, it was time to go overall. By that time, the changes that had taken place were already firmly established. Things were now the way they would be. It didn't look like it would be changing back to the way it was before. I was very comfortable, very satisfied with the way things were before, naturally hoping things would stay like that. But they didn't. It was time to go. Roberts: Something happened between him and Larry Graham. Had to do with a girl, something. I don't know what happened, really. Later that night, and them went over to the hotel. They had a big fight or something and that was it. Larry never showed up again. I went up to San Francisco within the next couple of months and I met with Larry at his house.... Larry said, "That is it." (When we went out to his car) he lifted up the hood. He thought there was a bomb.
That is how frightened this guy was of this whole thing. He said, "I am never going back again." And he never did.
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