Good Music Is Good Music
Greg Errico is the legendary, original drummer for Sly & The Family Stone who played at Woodstock. Iâ€™m lucky enough to have had a chance to catch up with him and talk about Sly, the newly reformed Family Stone, and his views on sampling.
Can you explain the difference between a â€˜Family Stoneâ€™ experience today without Sly? Do you play the songs you recorded together?
Thereâ€™s three original members: myself, Jerry Martini and Cynthia Robinson. The rest of the band is from Las Vegas. The chemistry is fantastic, itâ€™s really good. I mean, obviously Slyâ€™s not going to be there. But weâ€™re doing all the music that we created back 40-something years ago. Itâ€™s true to the spirit of the music and the energy I gotta say. I got back involved around February 2011 or something. This is the most pleased Iâ€™ve been, after several attempts to put the band back together, in a long time. Itâ€™s been very well received everywhere we go, and Iâ€™m very happy with it and I feel really good about it. As far as Sly goes, we wish he was in health that he could come out and perform again. But right now heâ€™s working on that. Short of that, I think anybody that is into the music or not even into the music will thoroughly enjoy what weâ€™re going to bring down there.
Speaking more on Sly, did you guys stay in touch? Heâ€™s very recently checked into rehabâ€¦
Which is a good thing. Occasionally I speak to him, and itâ€™s good that heâ€™s finally openly announced that he needs to go do this. So Iâ€™m glad that itâ€™s finally happened because time was running out. Itâ€™s good that heâ€™s there. Weâ€™ve always made it public knowledge that his spot on the stage, the organ is sitting here running, the seat is paused waiting for him to come in and sit on it. Heâ€™s always welcome to come and do what he does.
Letâ€™s talk about hip hop music. You must be familiar that a lot of the music you played in, not just the Family Stone stuff has been sampled in hip hop; how do you feel about that?
Yeah, it absolutely has. My drumbeat has been sampled hundreds and hundreds of times. And my music too. You know what? Itâ€™s an honour that the new and young creators, creative people come along to recognise it and be inspired by it to take it and make it part of their creation. Itâ€™s a good thing, itâ€™s a good feeling. It keeps what you did alive. It validates what you did to new generations of people that come along. We did some of that music almost 50 years ago!
Various artists, and people have conflicting views sometimes about it â€” thatâ€™s a great outlook youâ€™ve got.
I think so. People may be bitter, maybe because they didnâ€™t get paid for it. Thatâ€™s a business thing. Thereâ€™s a lot of things that are wrong on the business side, but weâ€™re doing more than business. It was music first and business came later. Whether thatâ€™s together or not, thatâ€™s an ongoing battle. The music is what touches people and brought people together worldwide, broke barriers down, and continues to. So thatâ€™s where the power is, not the business.
So letâ€™s get back to the Family Stone. So for someone who isnâ€™t versed in the group at all, what would you class your genre of music as?
Youâ€™re definitely going to hear funk. I guess you could best describe it as funk with the infusion and energy of rock with the attitude of rock and R&B. Itâ€™s music. My experiences with playing different genres of music; because maybe where I grew up, growing up in San Francisco, itâ€™s an international city, so you got people and music and culture from all over the world. This gets infused in your soul. I like music. Good music is good music to me, you know. I guess thatâ€™s whatâ€™s afforded me and allowed me to take the opportunities that I had to play with different artists and different genres, a great experience. So I bring all that to the table. As far as the music that we created 48 years ago, you will definitely experience the spirit of that music and the energy of that music when we come down there, thatâ€™s what weâ€™re going to bring. God willing, we can all still do it, and we are.
Catch The Family Stone at the Harvest Festival, at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens, November 19.