Family Affair (3:03)

Cover of Anthology

From Anthology and 186 other releases

“Family Affair” is a 1971 number-one hit single recorded by Sly & the Family Stone for the Epic Records label. Their first new material since the double a-sided single “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”/ “Everybody is a Star” nearly two years prior, “Family Affair” became the fourth and final number-one pop hit for the band. Rolling Stone magazine later ranked the song #138 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Released on November 6, 1971, “Family Affair” was markedly different from the earlier Sly & the Family Stone hits. “Family Affair” is a sombre, Rhodes piano based record with a rhythm box (or drum machine) providing the rhythm, making it the first number-one hit to feature a programmed rhythm track. Sly Stone and his sister Rose sing lead on the song. The lyrics reflect the good and bad aspects of being family, with Sly delivering his part in a low funk-styled tone instead of his earlier gospel-based shout.

“Family Affair” was the most successful hit of Sly & the Family Stone’s career, peaking at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, while achieving the same on the Billboard R&B Singles chart for five weeks. The band’s long-awaited fifth album, There’s a Riot Goin’ On, debuted at number one on the Billboard album charts during the same period. There’s a Riot Goin’ On was typified by a deep, dark style of funk, evident in “Family Affair”, that earned the album a place as one of the most influential albums of all time.


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