Sly Stone has pleaded not guilty to cocaine possession. The 68-year-old funk genius was arrested on 1 April, when Los Angeles police allegedly found cocaine rocks secreted in his clothing. The charges went unreported until last week, after his original arraignment was postponed owing to Stone’s heart problems. The news comes just months before he is due to release his first new album since 1982.
Stone’s lawyer, James E. Silverstein, told a court in Los Angeles the drugs belonged to the driver of the car in which Stone had been a passenger. “A lot of musicians hang out with people who have drugs. How are they supposed to know?”
Knecht suggested Stone – real name Sylvester Stewart – was being persecuted for his many run-ins with the law
over several decades. “You can’t punish a guy for what he did 40 years ago, 30 years ago,” Knecht said. Stone, who achieved fame as the leader of Sly and the Family Stone in the late 60s, was convicted in 1987 on cocaine possession charges. His struggles with substance abuse had turned him into a virtual recluse since the early 80s. Before re-emerging at last year’s Coachella festival, he was reportedly homeless and living on the dole.
Things had been looking up for Stone until this setback. He is due to release a new LP, I’m Back, on 16 August. Bootsy Collins, Jeff Beck, Heart’s Ann Wilson and the Doors’ Ray Manzarek are all reported to have contributed to the record.