Sly Stone Wins Millions in Court After Reported Homelessness

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 01.28.15 in News

A genre-bending founder of funk may be about to take the numbers in his bank statements higher, after a long stretch of rough times.

Sly Stone won a $5 million jury award yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court, as the Associated Press reports. The verdict ends at least one chapter in the 71-year-old Stone’s legal battle against business partners he accused of cheating him out of royalties. The original lawsuit, filed in 2010, asked for $50 million in damages.

“It’s a good day for Sly, it’s a good day for entertainers in general,” one of Stone’s lawyers, Nicholas Hornberger, told the AP. “This was an important verdict for people that are artists, entertainers, music composers, etc.”

The jury verdict amounts to $2.5 million against the entertainment company Even Street Productions, $2.45 million against Stone’s s ex-manager Gerald Goldstein and $50,000 against lawyer Glenn Stone.

Attorneys for the leader of hugely influential ’60s and ’70s band Sly and the Family Stone say he was broke when Goldstein and Stone persuaded him to work for and co-own Even Street with them in 1989. Stone granted royalty rights to the company. But his lawyers argued that Goldstein and Stone misappropriated it and Stone never saw a dime.

Gregg Bodell, the lawyer for Goldstein and Glenn Stone, contended that it was Stone who came to his clients, vowing comeback albums he never made. Bodell told the AP he plans to contest the award. He told The Wrap he considers the results of the case a $2.5 million award instead of a $5 million award, given that Stone co-owned Even Street.

Complicating matters further: Even Street filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

Sly and the Family Stone brought together soul and psychedelic rock in a way that helped blaze a path for Prince, Michael Jackson and their many followers, not to mention ’70s-era Miles Davis. Their hits include “Everyday People,” “Dance to the Music,” “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” “I Want to Take You Higher” and “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” Their 1971 album There’s a Riot Goin’ On, a response to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, stands as a dark but generously welcoming masterpiece (it includes the hit “Family Affair”). In 1969, the band famously played at Woodstock.

Stone had made little secret all along of his drug use, and after years of dwindling sales, he went into rehabilitation in the ’80s. He was arrested and convicted on cocaine charges in 1987, two years before teaming up with Goldstein and Glenn Stone. Since then, Sly Stone has made sporadic comeback attempts, including an appearance at a 2006 Grammy Awards tribute to Sly and the Family Stone. In another rare performance from recent years, at Coachella in 2010, Stone said from the stage that Goldstein stole millions from him, prompting a countersuit. In 2011, the New York Post reported that Stone was homeless.

Goldstein, incidentally, has a musical past himself. He co-wrote The Angels’ 1963 girl-group classic “My Boyfriend’s Back” and later produced for the band War.

Read Michaelangelo Matos’s feature Icon: Sly Stone.