Sunday, October 2, 2022

Michael, Prince and the Pain Behind Being ‘Effin Great’ (Videos)

*(UPDATED)In their 1969 hit,  Everybody Is a Star, Sly & The Family Stone hits on a good point in the lyric Everybody wants to shine. Who will come out to a cloudy day?” A beautiful, beautiful song with deep lyrics that showcase the distinct voices of Rose Stone*, and fellow group members Freddie Stone, Larry Graham and finally, Sly Stone, in succession. But the beautiful lyrics are sad today. They cause me to think of two exceptional artists in particular. Two men who really, truly, have no equals…at least to date.

Two men: Michael Jackson and Prince, exemplified the high cost of being Effin’ Great!

I came across two videos you may or may not have seen. One with Sheila E. talking about her time working with Prince and how he was “always in pain” — a heartbreaking admission especially since we now know his cause of death.  In another video, a cantankerous Dick Gregory blasts a journalist who blurts out an assumption that Michael Jackson was never satisfied with the money.

At times the interviews are hard to watch. Then again, the truth is sometimes hard to hear.

“No one wants to talk about that. You guys don’t need to know. You don’t need to know that we hurt everyday.” –Sheila E.

Sheila’s emotional interview shares how she also endures a lot of pain due to her years to work as a percussionist.  She says she was physically unable to walk for a time and had to take time away from doing what she loved to get her head together.

Surely you remember all those awesome dance moves Michael showed us; and Prince jumping up on pianos and shit, is it any surprise at all they popped pills?

They made it look so easy, but look at the price they paid.

The cost…No wonder there is so few members in the effin’ great club.

Watch the videos at EURThisNthat.




  1. Cynthia On The Throne

    It almost seems like just the other day when Sly Stone lit up radio in the San Francisco Bay Area with his brand of A Whole New Thing. We were young and he spoke volumes of, as he used to say, “Goodness for our mind, body and our soul.”
    Many journalists write about Sly & The Family Stone’s reign at Winchester Cathedral in San Jose, but we, the Kelly Hill bunch of Hayward, California, where Larry Graham’s mom lived, knew that the group also took over Frenchy’s nightclub in Hayward every weekend during that same celebrated period.
    It was there that I first saw Cynthia Robinson with her trailblazing self. Frenchy’s was a spot that allowed teenagers 16 years of age and older to hang after hours, until 6 a.m. mind you, because they served free breakfast after 2 a.m. They tore the roof off continually. The group could hambone, change instruments without missing a beat, sing incredible harmonies and made us joyous participants of the funkification process.
    I remember one night Sly introduced a jazz burnished version of Summertime. As I recall, the whole piece was devoted to Cynthia’s trumpet prowess with some keyboard chords to augment her magnificent solo effort. The young crowd though was rude and talkative through the delicate pianissimo part of her solo. Sly stopped the show and reamed the crowd a new one for being so rude. When the tune was restarted the crowd paid rapt attention as Cynthia played beautifully and received a great ovation.
    I remember New York writer David Henderson penning a piece about the group in Crawdaddy Magazine and later republished in a now obscure journal of writing that I bought. Here is his description of Cynthia; Cynthia Robinson, a saucy tomato from Sacramento with thick red hair and a sensual bougaloo. She blows a hot lip trumpet (the only female player of trumpet l’ve seen in any group) and comes forth with a sensual gutsy blues wail as well. Yeah, Cynthia could blow. Sly, in his liner notes to the Dance To The Music Album, described her as one of the best trumpet players in the world and that ranking continues even until now.
    In the mid ‘70s after the group had, for all intensive purposes, crashed and burned, I saw Cynthia at Foothill square in deep East Oakland with a little girl who looked a lot like Sly. I struck up a conversation with her and asked her why the group had been so silent of late. She told me that the group was basically into other things. I then asked her if she gave trumpet lessons and she thought not.
    I remember also when some members of the Family Stone including Cynthia played one of Sinbad’s Aruba concerts that was televised. They did a version of I Wanna Take You Higher. When it came time for Cynthia’s trumpet solo, some other youngster took it. I thought it was the end of her trumpet playing as we knew it. I guess she had taken a lot of time off and her chops weren’t up to snuff. But she later came back better than ever. Trumpet is a hard axe.
    I play a little trumpet myself. Once I was invited by Vet & Freddie to play at Evangelist Temple, the church that Freddie pastors. Cynthia was there. I played a flat version of Precious Lord, Take My Hand. After the service Cynthia walked up to me and told me I played well. What a great compliment, though I doubt that I did.
    Cynthia later told me she used the same trumpet mouthpiece that Al Hirt used. A Jet Tone brand made out of a light alloy. She said, “It’s the only thing my chops will tolerate.”
    On June 24th of 2006, The Family Stone played Rock Creek Park in D.C. Bob Davis, publisher of Soul-Patrol was there. I was juiced to be at the legendary venue made famous in my consciousness by The Blackbyrds. It was a great show. At the airport on the way back I encountered Cynthia trudging up the escalator to her flight. I offered to carry her gig bag for her. She declined saying she was good. Indeed, she was. RIP Cynthia Robinson. Still on the throne.

    T. Watts – West Coast Correspondent


    *In their 1969 hit, “Everybody Is a Star, Sly & The Family Stone hits on a good point in the lyric Everybody wants to shine. Who will come out to a cloudy day?” A beautiful, beautiful song with deep lyrics that showcase the distinct voices of Rose Stone, her brother, Freddie Stone, Larry Graham and finally, Sly Stone, in succession.

Comments are closed.



- Advertisement -