Sly and The Family Stone came forward today (August 15) and denied growing reports that group members had taken part in a massive riot that occurred on July 27, 1970, in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Sly and The Family Stone was slated to play a free concert at Grant Park, which drew over 75,000 people.
Police officers stopped Sly and several group members a few blocks from Grant Park, just before a riot broke out, that resulted in 165 people being arrested and another 130 injured.
As a result, a number of Sly Stone’s concerts across the country were canceled throughout the early portion of August, including festival appearances in Connecticut and New York.
“I was on my way to the free concert but we just turned around and went back. They [the escorts] said it wasn’t safer to go any near,” Sly Stone said in an interview. “I was there when it was advertised that I wasn’t.”
Chicago’s Mayor at the time, Richard Daley, eventually blamed the rioters for the violence. He also admitted that armed groups had brought weapons to Grant Park, with the intention of inciting a riot, no matter who the performer was.
But the Grant Park concert was the beginning of the end of major performances by Sly and The Family Stone.
Sly had missed the majority of his concert dates in 1970 and the violence that seemed to plague his shows did not help the group’s plight.
As a result of the bad publicity, Sly and The Family Stone had to put up $50,000 bond to play any arena shows.
Sly and The Family Stone eventually released their fifth album, There’s a Riot Goin’ On, in November of 1971.