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Family Affair (Sly and the Family Stone song)

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"Family Affair"
side-A label
One of side-A labels of the US single
Single by Sly and the Family Stone
from the album There's a Riot Goin' On
B-side"Luv N' Haight"
ReleasedNovember 6, 1971
Songwriter(s)Sly Stone
Producer(s)Sly Stone
Sly and the Family Stone singles chronology
"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" / "Everybody Is a Star"
"Family Affair"
"Runnin' Away"
Music video
"Family Affair" (audio) on YouTube

"Family Affair" is a 1971 number-one hit single recorded by Sly and 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 third and final number-one pop single for the band. In 2021, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song 57th on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[3] The cover version by John Legend, Joss Stone, and Van Hunt, won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at 49th Annual Grammy Awards.


Released on November 6, 1971, "Family Affair" was markedly different from the earlier Sly & the Family Stone hits. Engineering consultant Richard Tilles muted most of Sly Stone's guitar parts while emphasizing the electric piano played by Billy Preston and "edit[ing] the rhythm box to sound like a heartbeat," according to David Hepworth.[4]

"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.[5] Billboard ranked it as the No. 79 song for 1972.[6]

Chart history[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1971–1972) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) 46
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[7] 1
New Zealand (Listener)[8] 11
UK SIngles (OCC) 15
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 1
US R&B (Billboard)[10] 1
US Cash Box Top 100[11] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1971) Rank
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[12] 16
US R&B (Billboard)[13] 3
US (Joel Whitburn's Pop Annual)[14] 9
Chart (1972) Rank
US Billboard Hot 100[15] 79
US Cash Box Top 100[16] 11

Later years[edit]

Sly & the Family stone[edit]

Around 2022, a longer version of "Family Affair" emerged which included musical content from the original session that was not heard on the original release.[17][18] It appears to be what was heard on the Multitrack Playback: Family Affair clip that featured the original members years later listening to their work in a studio.[19]

Notable covers and derivative recordings[edit]

"Family Affair" has been heavily covered, with versions by Tyrone Davis, The Brothers Johnson, MFSB, Iggy Pop, Bunny Wailer, Andrew Roachford, and many more. The song's drum machine-created rhythm was duplicated in several early to mid-1970s recordings, in particular The Temptations' "Let Your Hair Down" (1973), and Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothin'" (1974).

Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers performed a Go-go rendition for the album Go Go Swing Live (1986).

Madonna featured this song as an intro to "Keep It Together" on her Blond Ambition Tour in 1990. Australian singer Stephen Cummings released a version as the second single from his fifth studio album, Good Humour. A rap-infused, danceable cover was released by German Milli Vanilli spinoff band Try 'N' B in 1992. Another retooled cover was done in 1993 by Shabba Ranks featuring Patra and Terri & Monica as a single for the Addams Family Values soundtrack. This version charted on the Billboard pop chart at number 84, number 16 on the R&B chart, and number-six on the Hot Rap Tracks chart. Prince sampled the song on his track "Y Should Eye Do That When Eye Can Do This?".

MFSB version[edit]

"Family Affair"
Single by MFSB
from the album MFSB
LabelPhiladelphia International
Songwriter(s)Sly Stone
Producer(s)Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff
Official audio
"Family Affair" on YouTube

MFSB recorded an instrumental version of the song as their debut single, from their 1973 debut album MFSB.



Shabba Ranks version[edit]

Chart (1993) Peak
Europe (European Dance Radio)[20] 8
UK Club Chart (Music Week)[21] 32
US Billboard Hot 100 84
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks (Billboard) 16
US Hot Rap Tracks (Billboard) 6
US Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales (Billboard) 11

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 957. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0.
  2. ^ a b Breihan, Tom (April 21, 2020). "Iggy Pop – "Family Affair" (Sly & The Family Stone Cover) (Feat. Bootsy Collins)". Stereogum. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  3. ^ "Sly and the Family Stone, 'Family Affair'". Rolling Stone. 15 September 2021. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  4. ^ Hepworth, David (2016). Never a Dull Moment: 1971 - The Year That Rock Exploded. New York: Henry Holt and Company. p. 86. ISBN 9781627793995.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 534.
  6. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1972
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Library and Archives Canada. December 25, 1971. Archived from the original on September 19, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  8. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". www.flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  9. ^ "Sly & the Family Stone". Billboard. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  10. ^ "December 3 1971 R&B". Billboard. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  11. ^ "Cash Box Top Singles - 1971". tropicalglen.com. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  12. ^ "RPM100 Top Singles of '71". Archived from the original on October 20, 2012.
  13. ^ "1971: The Top 100 Soul/R&B Singles". Rate Your Music. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  14. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  15. ^ "Musicoutfitters.com". Archived from the original on April 27, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  16. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 30, 1972". Archived from the original on September 28, 2018. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  17. ^ StrangerInAustralia channel, Jun 10, 2022 - Sly & The Family Stone - Family Affair (Unedited Version)
  18. ^ top 40 1971 channel - Sly & The Family Stone - Family Affair
  19. ^ Sly & The Family Stone channel, Oct 11, 2013 - Sly & The Family Stone - Multitrack Playback: Family Affair (Interview Clip)
  20. ^ "European Dance Radio Top 25" (PDF). Music & Media. February 19, 1994. p. 22. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  21. ^ "The RM Club Chart" (PDF). Music Week, in Record Mirror (Dance Update Supplemental Insert). December 18, 1993. p. 4. Retrieved May 13, 2023.

External links[edit]