By Daniel Kohn
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Ssssssh. Sly Stone is making his only Southern California appearance at the Anaheim House of Blues on Saturday with the Family Stone. But it can't possibly live up to his freaky-surprise appearance at the 2006 Grammy Awards, Sly's first live musical performance since 1987. Sly and most of the original Family Stone performed as part of a Sly & the Family Stone tribute, joined by Steven Tyler, John Legend, Van Hunt and Robert Randolph.
Sporting a shiny silver suit, Sly, never one to fade into a crowd, sat behind a keyboard and even further behind big sunglasses and a blond Mohawk. All of which isn't too strange considering his exodus from public life years ago.
After helping shape soul, funk and psychedelia in the '60s and '70s, through anthems such as "Dance to the Music," "Everyday People," "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and the ubiquitous "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)," Stone called it quits.
Sly is a fragile man. In the fall of '69, after moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles, he became fodder for pushy record execs and black activist groups that wanted Sly to step up the message behind the music (they even wanted to nix white musicians from the band), as well as personal conflicts with band members.
The band's score sheet for no-shows made promoters apprehensive about booking the act, and after a disastrous show at the Radio City Music Hall in January 1975, the Family Stone called it kaput.
Jump ahead about 30 years to the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles, where Sly was so moved by his younger sister's Family Stone tribute band, Phunk Phamily Affair, he felt compelled to pull out the funk himself. He renamed the band Family Stone and they're back at it. He's his elf again.
The Family Stone performs all the hits at The House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; www.hob.com/venues/clubvenues/anaheim. Sat., 8 p.m. $36-$40. All ages.