Well, we'd like to say we're glad to be
There was a guy who used to hang out because -- hey,
you know, you can come to my house because they're…
Remember Peavey man?
You can ask
A certain party we all know and
love. We will not call that party's name. Please no people
How about Warren and John-John
from New York.
Who was the guy with the Harley, the
The one who slept in the coffin.
The one that I punched in the stomach that
The third degree black belt used
to kick him and punch him in the stomach for exercise.
Did a video back in those days, it was "Everyday
People" and he was in it.
Lunch pail coffin. He used to eat a
But he used to come from place to place, you going
to eat that? Pile it on a plate. And it would be everything from a steak
sandwich to waffles --
And he'd just put syrup all
He ate my dog, I
He made those leather jackets
for my drums.
And you couldn't hurt
He was an amazing person.
Well, just 'cause he slept in a coffin.
Remember that time on stage, remember that on the stage, when you guys, uh,
when you guys, uh, I'm trying to think of that time when he came on the
And decided then to
demonstrate that he couldn't be hurt.
It might've been the
And then I came out, obviously that
I couldn't hurt him. It looked like I was the one that knocked him
And it was on A Street, in the
The Circus, that's what it was.
The Electric Circus.
It really was, it
really was cool. Especially all the bodyguards we had.
I hit him with my thumb
and he fell down, to this day he's still laying on the
He's still out. He had that
coffin, when he got too big for the coffin he had to cut it in half, and he
had it turned in this, he put it on the back of his three-wheeler.
You see that coffin kinda struck a nerve.
The reason I'm laughing, if you see this guy, he
couldn't get too big for the coffin. He couldn't get any bigger.
You'd have to see it to understand.
You'd have to see it.
Had to be there.
He couldn't get
too big for the coffin.
We're ready when
Well, talking about the Electric
Now, whatever you do, don't sing
Sing your part, then everybody gets nervous.
long is the first, how many segments, while we're sitting, how long is this
segment of conversation, dialogue, right here. In other words are we going
to go on for five, ten minutes and then stop, something like that.
Tell me about the Electric Circus.
Tell me about the Electric Circus. Do you remember the
first time, what the music scene was like at the time.
When we went to New York, before we, uh, began to
really get started into what I'd call a good training ground, uh, we went
there and we were looking for a place to stay. And we went all over the
place, and the place they had given us to say, I'm telling you, it had great
big holes in walls and we could tell where rats had been fighting. And you
know, it was terrible, so we decided we weren't going to stay there. And
they told us, they said, well, all the rock 'n' rollers stay here. We said,
well, we're not going to stay here. We -- remember that?
we walked, we walked, we walked.
up all night.
I don't even want to name the
name but, but it was terrible.
were walking in the lobby barefooted.
was terrible. But that was our introduction, that was our introduction to,
okay, you're coming from San Francisco, so now you're going to New York,
right. So we think we're going to New York, right, and when we get to New
York, and we thought all these people, you know, loved us, and they gave us
this big buildup, you're going to make it, and all this, and they sent us to
the Albert Hotel. We said, oh no, we're not going to stay here, we couldn't
do that. So we ended up getting another place to stay. But when we went to
the Electric Circus, talking about a very warm place and a good training for
us, and we got just super tight there. It was really great, it was really
cool. We had, uh, great friends there, it was really warm, it was always
packed. All kinds of people came, we took, I'll let somebody else talk. I, I
could talk for days. But uh, do you still remember that.
Remember what, Fred?
What was the question anyway?
taking the subway to the gig.
And you know
how we used to dress.
We'd take the subway from 57th, between 6th and 7th
To 8th Street in the
Village. And we'd do it together because that was the only protection we
We used to wear electric color
clothes then when it was, nobody else was doing that. I remember I had these
bright orange pants. And people on the subway would, they'd move away. When
you’d sit down.
That was your
Yeah, and don't mess with me
I got orange pants on.
But the people
there, they loved us, it was great. We had a lot of, the bodyguards there
were always, they were all self-defense experts, you know. And uh, it was
great. Uh, the kinds of things that we did, it was easy to do. In fact, to
this day if someone were to ask I believe each one of us, where was the
warmest place we ever played, even though we live here on the West Coast,
uh, everyone would say it was New York. I mean New York treated us like
home. I mean, that's just what they would say, they were just warm. And one
thing about it, and, and when we played there, if you weren't good, if you
weren't polished, if you weren't together, they'd let you know. Okay. And
so, so we made sure that we were together, we were polished.
They can be your best friends or worst enemy, New
York. That's right.
They'd even come to
see, the people in New York even come to see you for different reasons than
they do on the West Coast. They come to see what you have to say. To see if
you really have that substance that they heard on the radio. They come to,
they come to see your, your technical skills. They come to enjoy. They don't
really come to see if you got string hanging, what's she wearing today. Oh,
those shoes don't look good on her honey. You know, they really come to
enjoy you, and if you don't give it to them, they'll tell us.
They know just where you are.
They'll kill you.
When the word gets around, there won't be nobody at the next
Show 'em your scars Jerry.
See my thumb, they broke my thumb there.
What were you playing back then, what tunes?
That was our first album period. So "Dance to the
Music" but we did a lot of stuff from --
That first album too.
Right the "Whole
New Thing" album which was at that time kind of Avant-garde.
Yeah, actually when we first doing the Electric
Circus, it was before the -- like our first album was really, was really the
roots of Sly and the Family Stone. When the music started, it wasn't, it
didn't have really, I'd say, I don't think it had any commercial
considerations at all. You know, the first record. And um, I mean it was
probably more personal, musically, and vocally, everything. Because "Dance
to the Music" didn't come out, that was the third album. So the second album
was another step maybe closer. "Life" was the second album. And those were
kind of reaching out more like to, it was kind of in between leaving us,
going to the people, the audience, and then the third album would probably
be really boring, where you just reach out.
Yeah, and we don't remember anything after that.
Now the scene you all came out of was different from
other music scenes. The West Coast was different. There was something else
happening. And Greg, you started out on the West Coast, didn't
Well, yeah, well yeah, I was born and
raised in San Francisco. But I mean there was, you know, everybody really, I
mean, like Rose and Freddie grew up here. Jerry, grew up --
Well, Greg and I, we were in a group together. We had
a group before that.
And Sly and I had a
And then Jerry was playing
with Sly. And Rose came in every once in a while.
Wait, I got to tell you how I came in. I was the ticket girl. We had
this club. Remember Boopy's? Boopy's? I was the ticket girl. And whenever
they would hire somebody to come in, like some artist that was you know
popular in those days, if they didn't show up, c'mon, Rose, you got to sing
She was on the bench.
So I had two gigs. I was in whoever's band at the
Freddie and I had a group called the
Stone Souls. And I was literally, the night that the group started, the
Family Stone started, I was, went over to the house for rehearsal for the
Stone Souls. There was no talk about anything. And they were in the kitchen
eating. I remember, Fred, your mother said, c'mon, they're in the kitchen.
And I walked in there and you and Sly, and I think Rose too were sitting at
the table eating some chicken. And I go where is everybody. You know, I'm
expecting -- and they go, Freddie looks up, he goes, we're going to start,
we're starting a new group tonight, you want to do it? I go, well, I'm here,
I might as well, you know. And, uh, I wasn't that sarcastic. And uh, and
everybody showed up, Cynthia, Jerry, Larry Graham. And we started rehearsing
in the basement, five days straight. Starting that night. And the following
week we did our first gig.
You know what
else? See what happened when we had the group, I had a group, Sly had a
group. [Overlapping talk] Cynthia, it was -- [Overlapping talk]. Okay look,
Sly was on the air as a disk jockey, and after he'd leave the radio, he'd go
down to this club. That's where him and Cynthia, uh, Rose would come in
every once in a while and play. Jerry had, had, had been playing with him
before so he knew him very well. Okay, that's at Bo-Peep. And so, and then,
the other days we would come, my group. Well, see our group, Freddie and the
Stone Souls, we'd blow them out of the water. And the reason why because
they didn't rehearse, okay, we rehearsed -- isn't that the truth -- we
rehearsed all the time, but see, some of those guys were a little bit older
and so they kind of --
We had day jobs,
more or less.
You know, they had been
playing a little while, so we'd blow them out of the water. Anyway, Sly came
to me one day, he says, look, why don't we get together and have one group.
Get the very best musicians that you have out of your group and I'll get the
very best musicians I know. Okay, so I, I went and did an inventory. And,
and Greg was automatic because he was just phenomenal then and
See, Sly was searching all along
too, he had been looking for about six months.
Sure. But when I told, when I said, I said, look, I got the drummer.
We don't need to get a drummer. I said I got the drummer, I know I have the
drummer, and it's Greg. And when he heard Greg he said, yeah, he's the
What is it about Greg that made him
Let me tell you something
about Greg. Same thing that, same thing that he has now, Greg then, not
only, not only then, but even now, he had a way of playing, he was his own
drummer, he had his own stuff. He came like, he was unique within himself.
You know, and unique things always stand out. Greg is powerful, and I liked
drummers that played with power plus he could play in time. See a lot of
drummers can play, but they can't play a long time powerfully in time.
That's why they come out with the rhythm machine, because the drummer, he
got slower halfway down the set. But Greg wouldn't do that. He was, I don't
care how long we played, Greg was there, keeping time, playing powerful,
doing all the licks, all the riffs. And he was just energetic, plus he was
creative. And when you have all of that plus a creative musicians, then you
know that person's going to help you be creative. And not only that, not
only about Greg, but that's what it was about Rose and, and Jerry and
Cynthia and Larry is just that they were all unique within themselves, plus
they were creative. And when you got all that going and then Sly is up here
at the, at the helm, it's not hard to come together with something when you
have people who are creative and he would give us the skeleton of a song,
and then he would say, okay, what do you do with that. Okay, and then he
would just let us go. Because he knew what we were going to come out with --
we were all, you know, when you get musicians together, you know, you're not
creative really by yourself. But if someone, someone walks in the room, all
of a sudden creative juices begin to flow. You know, and then, that's the
way it would always work. And we just fused together and we became like
family because we really were a family. I mean, if you, if you messed with
one of us, you messed with all of us.
You know, that's the way it
was then, and that's the way it is now.
I remember I got slapped on the back of the head -- [Overlapping
We'd be walking through an
audience sometimes, and some people who had the long hair, some of the guys
would come up and whack him on the back of the head, and Sly would turn
around and say, who did that? And he would like, Sly would jump up and be
ready to fight for me. It was interesting.
Speaking of slaps on the back of the head, if you could tell me about being
down South. Because I understand that, I mean, we know about the racism, but
evidently you and Greg as long-haired white boys had problems.
That's when I'd get slapped in the back of the
head. But actually I think it was in Detroit or someplace, we were in a
building we were walking into, a very tight area, and I got hit really hard
in the back of the head, and I made it be known, and everybody was right
there, uh, standing up, you know?
You had told
me something about when you were down south and they wouldn't let you into
the hotel, like there were a place for black folks, a place for white folks
Oh yeah, Greg and I had to sleep in
the truck. They'd say, we know what to do with you, but we don't know, we
don't know what the heck to do with you. Y'all gonna have to sleep in the
truck. I remember Larry, Larry snuck us in his window one night, we'd sleep
on the floor at this hotel. It was some craziness happening then.
I would like you to backtrack for a moment, because I
need to hear you say that …your long hair, because I need to paint this
picture and the fact that it was in the South.
Yeah, when we first started, uh, playing in the south, they had
never seen anybody like that. First it's an integrated band, coming there
wearing wild clothes. Greg and I with the long hair and the beards and the
wild look in the eyes and everything, they just didn't know what to make of
us. So that's like we would pull up to the hotels, and they, they wouldn't
even let Greg and I go into the hotels. So we had to stay out in the
Everybody else got
That's a switch isn't it?
not only that, I, I, I, I also remember that down in the south where we were
playing, it's kind of like they, they were treating, they treat you as an
entertainer differently. It's almost like, uh, it's almost like you, you
have favor now, because you're an entertainer. And you know, you, you, your
children, your youngsters are coming to watch this group and we're the
group. And they kind of give us favor. But if you're not an entertainer it's
not like that. That's the way it was then. I don't know how it is now. But
I'll tell you the truth, it was really great. Every place that we played,
um, sometimes, there would be some places where we were sort of, talked to
some of the groups of that day, uh, uh, activists, wanted us to do certain
things. And I remember that. And, and, uh, we would never, uh, take a
position that we didn't actually believe in, and but, we were asked to do it
more than once. And uh, we turned it down, we wouldn't do that. And um,
there were times when, I know my brother, there was a threat on his life,
um, because of certain things like that. But we wouldn't compromise what we
believed in. There was something about each member of the group, not to be
old-fashioned, but all of us had somewhat of a religious background, and so
there were some like old-fashioned morals that we were just, you know,
brought up on. And we held, basically we held onto those. And so there were
some things that we wouldn't tolerate and wouldn't compromise, we wouldn't
compromise our position. And um, it made us closer together. You know, we
stayed together no matter what, no matter where we went. If we went to a
place and it was basically white, it didn't change. If we went to a place
that was basically black it didn't change. If we went to down in Kentucky or
up at the Apollo, it didn't change, we were one.
What I wanted to talk about, Madison Square Garden. I understand that
the first time you all performed there, people… Do you remember what it was
like when you all did "Higher"?
When we did "Higher", when we did "Higher", I think this was the first time
we played, yeah it was the first time, Madison Square Garden, we did
"Higher", they actually had, uh, before we, "Higher" I think was the last
song and then we went off, and they were calling for an encore. They held us
back because the engineers and the manager of the stadium, uh, and the fire
department there got scared because when we were doing "Higher" we had
everybody in unison going up and down raising "Higher" and the building was
actually going about two or three feet from vertically up and down. And
they, that was, I think that would've been scary for anybody. And so that
had never happened before. And they actually had stopped us, paused for a
while before they let us go back on. They had to discuss it and all this
going on. And uh, and then they let us go back on. But I remember that, that
was pretty significant.
I remember the
police dancing too. That was so funny to see the policemen --
Well, we had fun, everybody
would get in on it.
Well, you know, Sly
had a way of, uh, there were times when they would, where the police and the
people that were putting it on would be somewhat fearful that the, the
audience would get out of control. But Sly had a way of always talking to
the audience in a way -- they had barriers, they would have barriers up, you
can't come past this barrier. Well, he had a way out of communicating with
the people. He'd tell them drop the barrier. People would come right up,
they behaved themselves.
themselves, yeah, remember?
that? They would always monitor themselves.
We've got to stop for just a moment.