Family Affair (Sly and the Family Stone song)

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"Family Affair"
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]

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?".

Janet Jackson sampled the song on the track "And On and On", the B-side to her single "Any Time, Any Place".

Shola Ama referenced the song on the track "Lovely Affair" from her 1999 second album In Return

The Black Eyed Peas song "Weekends" from their 2000 album Bridging the Gap samples "Family Affair".

In 2005, John Legend, Joss Stone and Van Hunt recorded a cover featuring elements of the original recording for Different Strokes by Different Folks, a Sly & the Family Stone tribute/remix album. This version of "Family Affair" won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Jazz bassist Christian McBride recorded a cover on his album A Family Affair.

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

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


Chart history[edit]

Sly & the Family Stone original[edit]

Chart (1971/1972) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles 1

Shabba Ranks version[edit]

Chart (1993) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 84
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks 16
U.S. Billboard Hot Rap Tracks 6
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 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. 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". December 25, 1971. Archived from the original on September 19, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  8. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". 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". 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. ^ "". 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.