‘It’s been a wild ride’: funk legend Sly Stone announces memoir

<span>Photograph: Martial Trezzini/AP</span>
Photograph: Martial Trezzini/AP

Sly Stone, the indefatigable frontman, songwriter and producer of funk progenitors Sly and the Family Stone, has announced that his memoir, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) will be released this October via White Rabbit.

Written with Ben Greenman, who has co-written celebrity memoirs for Gene Simmons, Brian Wilson and George Clinton among others, Thank You will also include a foreword from Questlove, whose new publishing imprint AUWA Books, part of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, will release the book in the US.

“For as long as I can remember folks have been asking me to tell my story, [but] I wasn’t ready,” Stone said in a statement. “I had to be in a new frame of mind to become Sylvester Stewart again to tell the true story of Sly Stone. It’s been a wild ride and hopefully my fans enjoy it too.”

Lee Brackstone, publisher of White Rabbit, said in a statement: “[Thank You] covers all aspects of Sly’s creative life (which, contrary to conventional wisdom, never ended) and his personal life; his childhood in a church-going musical family in northern California, the golden years of hits and psychedelic funk with the Family Stone, his battles with drug use over five decades and eventually getting clean three years ago. It is a revealing portrait of one of the defining musical geniuses of the 20th century, inspiring but also melancholy of course.”

Brackstone said that Greenman had spent years trying to track Stone down to ask if he would write a memoir, and that the project started life a decade ago when they were connected via George Clinton. “There was start-and-stop progress for many years,” he said. “Most of the credit should go to [manager] Arlene Hirschkowitz, who persuaded him to write the book when he got clean.”

Stone is one of the key figures in the development of funk music, along with James Brown and Funkadelic’s George Clinton. With the Family Stone, he had hits throughout the 60s and 70s, including Family Affair, Everyday People, I Want to Take You Higher and Dance to the Music. The band’s success began to decline later in the 70s, as Stone and his bandmates became more and more reliant on hard drugs. After failing to reinvigorate his career throughout the 80s, Stone essentially retired after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, rarely making public appearances throughout the 90s and 2000s.

Related: Sly Stone’s greatest songs – ranked!

In 2011, it was revealed that Stone was homeless and living in a van. He alleged that unfair contracts he had signed in the 80s – including one with his manager Jerry Goldstein – were to blame for his financial situation. In 2015, Stone won a lawsuit against Goldstein, awarding him $5m, although Stone was still unable to collect the royalties due to his having assigned them to a production company in 1989.

According to his publisher, Stone is now clean and living in Los Angeles. Earlier this year, it was announced that Questlove would direct a new documentary about Stone, which “tells the story behind the rise, reign and fadeout of one of pop music’s most influential artists and, in doing so, tells a very human story about the cost of genius”.

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) will be released on 17 October 2023 .