follow us in feedly
‘Wear Something Gold’: Sly Stone’s 1974 wedding at Madison Square Garden
12:08 pm


Sly Stone
Sly and the Family Stone

Sly Stone and Kathy Silva
Sly Stone and Kathy Silva in their Halston wedding garb
The wedding ceremony of Sly Stone and Kathy Silva at Madison Square Garden on June 5, 1974, is one of the more peculiar pop culture extravaganzas I’m aware of, yet neither YouTube nor Google Images yield very much at all. At the time however, it was considered an event of some significance.
Sly Stone wedding, Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone dedicated a two-page spread to the event, and—this is utterly crazy—the normally staid and upper-middlebrow New Yorker ran a lengthy report (“A Reporter at Large”) by one of their most esteemed writers, George W.S. Trow, that spanned a whopping eleven pages. (Trow’s 1978 report Within the Context of No Context, which was published as a book in 1981, is considered by many to be one of the essential nonfiction accounts of the 1970s—I wasn’t so fond of it.) The title of Trow’s piece was “The Biggest Event This Year”—it has to have been meant at least a little ironically.

One of the astonishing aspects of the wedding was the remarkable rapidity with which it was conceived and planned. The wedding took place on June 5 and, according to Trow, the first inkling of throwing such an event occurred no earlier than May 3. This may in part account for the curious lack of echo the wedding would have. The initial impulse may have been partly romantic, but throwing a wedding at Madison Square Garden is a calculated PR move no matter who’s doing it, and the inescapably commercial nature of the event ... well, induced almost everybody to think of the nuptials in precisely that way. Accounts of the event don’t feel dramatically different from any random night at Studio 54 in the years to come, albeit far more expensive to stage. (Indeed, even Stone himself may have thought of the wedding as a kind of Hail Mary pass for his musical career. In retrospect the wedding was something like Sly’s last hurrah, and the marriage fell apart in 1976.)
New Yorker
Trow’s account focuses almost entirely on the corporate planning that is integral to such an event. Keeping the eye squarely on the unavoidable logistical machinations required, it’s as much about Stone’s handler at Epic Records, a man named Stephen Paley, as anyone else. The article is well written in the usual New Yorker way but almost entirely devoid of drama; we hear about discussions of the “black angel” that Madison Square Garden would not permit to be flown over the ceremony, the necessary expense of security, the possibility of a laser light show display in the colors of gold and pink, the cost of using the Starlight Roof at the Waldorf-Astoria for the reception, the tailoring of the splendid gold outfits by Halston himself, and so on. Sly is acting erratically, missing appointments and so forth, and we hear a whole lot about the vast sums of money he’s spending. Trow signals both the implicit exploitation of a young, vital black artist as well as the possibility of that same artist’s potential decline, but nobody could see then what is apparent now, which is that Sly Stone’s days as a world-class superstar were on the very brink of ending altogether.

In truth, the Rolling Stone account is briefer, less pretentious, and a little bit superior. We get to see a pic of the invitation, which is in script writing and is perfectly traditional:

You are invited to a golden affair,
the wedding of
Kathy Silva
Sly Stone
at Madison Square Garden
on Wednesday night the fifth of June,
followed by the concert of
Sly and the Family Stone.
And to the reception immediately following at
the Starlight Roof of the Waldorf Astoria,
49th Street at Park Avenue.

Kindly respond by Friday, May 31, 1974.
Wear something gold.

Geraldo Rivera, then of ABC “Eyewitness News,” somehow insinuated himself onto the stage during the ceremony, so that he could file a report as “the Eyewitness Usher.” Andy Warhol was there but left right after the ceremony; he, Rivera, Edgar Winter, Mia Farrow, and a host of others would be at the reception.

Bishop B.R. Stewart, the gentleman who officiated the event (according to Rolling Stone a Pentecostal minister from the San Francisco church Sly attended as a child) was apparently not registered at the City Clerk’s office, necessitating Stewart, a Californian, to return to New York and get registered, thus making the marriage official.

via Voices of East Anglia

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Holy Watusi, Batman! The Bay Area Batman-themed nightclub from the mid-1960s
02:31 pm


Sly and the Family Stone

Wayne Manor
From the start of 1966 to the late spring of 1967 (if not longer), a period coinciding with the run of the groovy Batman TV show we all know and love, one of the hottest nightclubs in the Bay Area was a Batman-themed joint called Wayne Manor in Sunnyvale. According to the Chicken on a Unicycle website (love the name), “The club was decorated like the Bat Cave, and dancers were dressed like Bat Girl or Catwoman.” LIFE Magazine mentioned Wayne Manor in its March 11, 1966 cover story on the Batman-mania sweeping the nation.

The owner of the club was named Joe Lewis, and after attempting to run the nightclub as a South Bay branch of LA’s Whiskey à Go Go, took the advice of his 11-year-old son Garth—an addict of the DC comic books—and went with the Batman theme for the venue. Some have presented the two events as a mere lucky coincidence for Lewis, but I’m skeptical—the Batman series debuted on January 11, 1966, and the music listings on the Chicken on a Unicycle website go back only as far as February 1966—smells like good old-fashioned opportunism to me.
Wayne Manor
The (Fremont) Argus, Feb. 16, 1966
Musical acts would usually book for an entire week at a time. The roster of performers included such notable musical acts as The Music Machine (who played there in Oct. 1966), Dobie Gray (Dec. 1966), and—this will blow your mind—Sly and the Family Stone (a week covering the end of March and the start of April 1967 and virtually every day in May 1967).

Chicken on a Unicycle has an exhaustive collection of ephemera about the club, although most of the images are frustratingly small. However, it’s still very valuable in persuading people (me, for instance) that this actually happened.

There isn’t any video of Wayne Manor on YouTube (why would there be?), so instead we offer you all 14 window cameos from the original TV series:

via Messy Nessy Chic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Family Affair: Out of this world Sly and the Family Stone medley from 1969
11:15 pm


Sly and the Family Stone

Ass-kicking Sly and the Family Stone performance from ABC’s “Music Scene” taped in 1969. They’ll be playing at the Coachella Festival this weekend and are one of the acts I am most excited about seeing. There was a year in the mid-80s where practically ALL I listened to were Sly, Alice Cooper, Nick Cave and Herb Alpert! (It made me the man I am today…). I’ve been listening to the music of Sylvester Stewart a lot again lately, too. The man is a bona fide musical genius. He was touched by the gods back then and I hope his muse returns for the big Coachella outing.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment