Formed in San Francisco 51 years ago, psychedelic funk legends Sly and the Family Stone broke all the rules and revolutionized soul music, and drummer Greg Errico was there on day one.
“It was very exciting—even then, he (Sly Stone) was a very colorful bigger-than-life personality,” says Errico, who played in a band with Stone’s brother Freddie and knew Sly as a radio host in the city before the Family Stone formed. “Literally one night I showed for rehearsal with the group Freddie and I had, and said, ‘Where’s everybody?’ That’s the night we started the new group.”
Groundbreaking not only for their genre-bending sound, Sly and the Family Stone was the first major band in America to integrate races and genders, and the group had already solidified their place in rock ’n’ roll history with huge hits and critical acclaim by the time Errico left in 1971. Yet, drugs and a decline in output turned Sly Stone into a recluse nearly 30 years ago.
Fast forward to 10 years ago, when first-time filmmaker Michael Rubenstone set out on a quest to find the reclusive Stone, chronicled in the recently completed documentary, On the Sly, screening at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) on Friday, October 13.
Errico and other members of the Family Stone are featured prominently in the film, and the Family Stone will be featured prominently onstage after the screening in a live concert performance at the Sweetwater Music Hall as part of the festival’s music lineup. “It’s wonderful to come back into this and get it going again,” Errico says of the band. “As performers, we’re seeing the power of the music, the wave of what we had originally created, still moving.”
Joining the band, which also includes founding saxophonist Jerry Martini, will be Stone and the late Cynthia Robinson’s daughter Phunne Stone. “It’s good to have her,” Errico says. “It’s still a family affair.”
‘On the Sly’; visit mvff.com for film times and info. about the music performance.