It is 1971 and I’m going tell you a story about two God fearing musical families. The first were the children of Mormons George and Olive from Ogden, Utah. The second, offspring of Church of God in Christ followers KC and Alpha from Dallas, Texas.
The four eldest boys of the first family sang barbershop harmony and appeared on the Andy Williams Show before being joined by their thirteen year old younger brother.
The second family released a single in 1952 as The Stewart Four , “On The Battlefield Of The Lord/ Walking in Jesus’ Name”.
They both had successful singles in 1971. One Bad Apple and It’s A Family Affair.
Of course I’m referring to The Osmonds and Sly And The Family Stone.
The Osmonds, Alan, Wayne, Merril, Jay and Donny were portrayed as wholesome and righteous young white men in a time of negativity around the Vietnam war and an increasing national drug abuse problem. They dressed similarly in either all white suits or fringe jackets and danced carefully choreographed steps. Their collective smile was like being hit by a full sweep of a Utah lighthouse if such a thing exists in a land locked state.
Sly And The Family Stone (changed from Stewart) were the complete antithesis. Multi racial, outlandish fashion and hair styles, moving and grooving and doing their own thang, y’all ! And fuelled by hard core drugs. They sang about civil rights, freedom and of course drugs. Their album that year was There’s A Riot Going On. The band were notorious for being late or a member not even turning up because they were too high. Witness Sly Stone being interviewed on the Dick Cavett Show where he almost passes out mid sentence.
Sly was joined by brother Freddie and sister Rose with baby sister Vaetta sometimes appearing with The Little Sister backing singers. Add to that slap bass king Larry Graham, trumpeter Cynthia Robertson (who features in my not to be missed, up and coming three part blog “African American Female Trumpet Players of the Seventies”) and a couple of white dudes, Jerry Martini and Gregg Errico and the family is complete.
Both families got to No.1 in the US charts that year. One Bad Apple (a song I always thought would be more suited to the Jackson Five) stayed for five weeks in February and was the theme tune to their cartoon series.
It’s A Family Affair (featuring only multi instrumentalist Sly with Rose, Bobby Womack on guitar, Billy Preston on Hohner Pianet and a rhythm machine) was No 1 for three weeks later that year in November.
Some may argue that the song titles apply to the opposing groups depending on your outlook I suppose.
I’m not telling you which one I prefer – but I might…………..on the Sly ! (wink, wink)
(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia – March 2023)
3 thoughts on “All In The Family”
all you needed was to throw that Gary, Indiana family into the family mix that year….
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A tale of two families for sure, we know one of them has songs we still listen to…
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Well that is a polar opposite… I do like one…ONE Osmond song…if you haven’t heard it…it’s called Crazy Horses. It’s a direction one of them wanted to go…well that didn’t work out.
I love Sly and the Family Stone though.
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