Feature

Sly Stone’s hard fall

The soul legend has been brought low by substance abuse and financial mismanagement.

Sly Stone is broke and homeless, said Willem Alkema and Reed Tucker in the New York Post. In his heyday, the Sly and the Family Stone front man lived in a 5,432-square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills. But the soul legend now lives in a white van that he parks on a street in Los Angeles’s gritty Crenshaw neighborhood. “I like my small camper,” says Stone, 68, his voice raspy from years of hard living. “I just do not want to return to a fixed home. I must keep moving.”

The singer was brought low by a lethal combination of substance abuse and financial mismanagement. At the peak of his fame, in the late 1960s, Stone started experimenting with cocaine and PCP, and his songwriting began to suffer. In 1975, the Family Stone split, and drugs took a tighter hold. Stone remembers heading out one Christmas to buy presents for his young son, Sylvester. “I had about $2,500 to spend. By the time I get [to the store], I had spent it all on drugs. Yes, I did.”

Stone now hopes to win back his fortune by selling some of the hundreds of songs he’s recorded in his van. “Let these guys know, like Lady Gaga. Please tell everybody, please, to give me a job, play my music. I’m tired of all this s---, man.”

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