The impact of the man born Sylvester Stewart — Sly Stone — is undeniable, or as Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson writes about Stone and his band of collaborators, “They were pure energy.”
Thompson’s words are taken from Stone’s recently released autobiography, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), which Stone co-wrote with Ben Greenman and in collaboration with Arlene Hirschkowitz. The 297-page book is out now, via Thompson’s imprint AUWA Books.
While the vivid recounting of Stone’s life and work (or as Thompson frames it, “filled with more twists and turns than anyone can imagine, ascents and descents and every kind of outsize event”) is well worth reading, it’s also worth noting Stone’s North Texas roots.
Admittedly, although Stone was born in Denton in March 1943, he wasn’t a resident long, as he and his family soon relocated to Vallejo, California, where he would come of age.
Stone’s father — K.C. Stewart — would marry one of the daughters of F.L. Haynes, a Pentecostal preacher who had decamped to Denton to establish the St. Andrew Church of God in Christ (which still stands today, having just marked its centennial).
Denton captures all of three paragraphs in Stone’s book, as he writes: “In the story before my story, there’s Denton, Texas, a small city in a big state, north of Dallas and Fort Worth. … The street where we lived in Denton is barely a memory for me. A cemetery was to the east.
“What was to the west? We all were, soon enough. A little while after I was born, we moved out to California. Denton went into the past and the future went into Vallejo, a city about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco.”
From there, Stone’s story continues and unfolds across the remaining, rollicking pages. At times poignant and at times harrowing, through it all, a deep appreciation for Stone’s visionary perspective on funk, pop, R&B and rock builds.
Like so many others who have passed through Denton, whether for a moment or for a bit longer, Sly Stone’s contributions to music, exemplified by classics like “Dance to the Music,” “Everyday People” or “I Want to Take You Higher,” have their roots in North Texas soil.
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on X (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.