Stu Levitan welcomes back to the show the award-winning journalist, music critic and author Joel Selvin for a conversation about his classic book Sly and the Family Stone: An Oral History, out of print for many years but just reissued by the good people at Permuted Press. It is the story of the rise and fall of one of the most important figures in modern music, from his childhood as a musical prodigy to the end of the band in 1975. It’s a tale told well by the people who were there – his parents, his bandmates, his ex-wife, his managers, his gangsters, even some members of the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. Some who loved him, some who came to hate him, some who did both.
It’s a story Joel Selvin was exceptionally well-qualified to uncover. Not only is he an award-winning journalist and music critic who covered pop music for the San Francisco Chronicle for more than thirty-five years, and the author of close to 20 best-selling books about the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Ricky Nelson, Haight-Ashbury and more. He is also a native of Berkeley California, and was in his early teens as Sly was making a name for himself as a hip disc jockey on San Francisco radio. And he also remembers everything about the first time he heard Sly’s seminal song Dance to the Music as a 17-yo in late 1967. And he is a great raconteur.
As to the requisite Madison connection, well, it’s through Stu. Because this is the fourth time around for Joel on his show, following conversations about his books Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day; Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues and Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise.
It’s a pleasure to welcome back to Madison BookBeat, Joel Selvin.