Sly and the Family Stone - Family Affair - 1971


Sly and the Family Stone's "Family Affair" from 1971: An Exploration

Sly and the Family Stone, a pioneering band in the development of soul, funk, and psychedelic music, released "Family Affair" in 1971. This song is not just a piece of music but a reflection of the social and cultural changes of the era. Let's delve into its background, significance, and impact.


Sly and the Family Stone: Pioneers of a New Sound Formed in San Francisco in 1966, Sly and the Family Stone brought together an eclectic mix of sounds and a racially and gender-integrated band, a rarity at the time. Learn more about their formation and influences here: Sly and the Family Stone.

The Song "Family Affair"

A Shift in Music and Lyrics Released as part of their album "There's a Riot Goin' On," "Family Affair" marked a shift in the band's music style, emphasizing a more somber and introspective approach. Discover the album's impact on music here: There's a Riot Goin' On.

Social and Cultural Context

Reflecting the 1970s "Family Affair" was released in a turbulent time of social change. The song's lyrics and style reflect the era's complex social dynamics. Explore the historical context: 1970s in Music.

Musical Analysis

Innovations and Style The song is known for its innovative use of the Rhythm King drum machine, one of the first uses in a popular song. Analyze the musical elements here: Music Theory.


Influencing Future Generations "Family Affair" has been sampled and covered by numerous artists and remains a significant influence in modern music. Discover its ongoing impact: Sampling in Music.

For additional learning materials and resources: MOOCit

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What album did "Family Affair" appear on? (There's a Riot Goin' On) (!Stand!) (!Fresh) (!Life)

What was distinctive about "Family Affair" in terms of instrumentation? (It was one of the first popular songs to use a drum machine) (!It featured a full symphony orchestra) (!It used only acoustic instruments) (!It included a theremin solo)

What year was "Family Affair" released? (1971) (!1969) (!1975) (!1980)

What genre does "Family Affair" primarily belong to? (Funk) (!Rock) (!Jazz) (!Disco)

What was a notable characteristic of Sly and the Family Stone as a band? (They were one of the first racially and gender-integrated bands) (!All members were family) (!They only performed live) (!They never released an album)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

Where was Sly and the Family Stone formed? (San Francisco) (!New York) (!Detroit) (!Los Angeles)

What was the original name of the band before becoming Sly and the Family Stone? (Sly and the Stoners) (!The Family) (!The Stoned Family) (!Sly's Rhythm Makers)

Sly Stone's real name is? (Sylvester Stewart) (!Samuel Stone) (!Simon Silver) (!Steven Sly)

Which instrument did Sly Stone primarily play? (Keyboards) (!Drums) (!Guitar) (!Bass)

What other genre did Sly and the Family Stone significantly influence besides funk? (Psychedelic music) (!Country) (!Heavy metal) (!Classical)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What is a key theme in the lyrics of "Family Affair"? (Family dynamics and personal struggles) (!Environmental concerns) (!Political activism) (!Space exploration)

The line "One child grows up to be..." completes with what phrase? (Somebody that just loves to learn) (!A person who just loves to dance) (!Somebody who just loves to sing) (!Someone who is afraid of the dark)

What does the song suggest about family relationships? (They can be complex and challenging) (!They are always harmonious) (!They are insignificant) (!They should be avoided)

The lyrics "Newlywed a year ago" suggest what about the characters in the song? (They are experiencing early marital challenges) (!They are on their honeymoon) (!They are celebrating their golden anniversary) (!They have never been married)

How does the song portray life's challenges? (As inevitable and diverse) (!As easily solvable) (!As nonexistent) (!As purely financial)


Sly Stone's Real Name Sylvester Stewart
Year of Release 1971
Genre Funk
Drum Machine Used Rhythm King
Album There's a Riot Goin' On

Open Tasks


  1. Create a Playlist: Create a playlist of songs from the 1970s that reflect social changes, including "Family Affair."
  2. Draw a Band Poster: Design a poster for Sly and the Family Stone using 1970s art styles.
  3. Write a Song Review: Write a brief review of "Family Affair," focusing on its musical style and lyrics.


  1. Explore Racial Integration in Music: Research other bands from the 1960s and 1970s that were racially integrated and compare their impact to Sly and the Family Stone.
  2. Analyze the Lyrics: Do a deeper analysis of the lyrics of "Family Affair," discussing its themes and messages.
  3. Create a Short Documentary: Make a short video documentary about the significance of "Family Affair" in music history.


  1. Music Production Experiment: Try creating a song using a drum machine or music software, inspired by "Family Affair."
  2. Write a Research Paper: Write a detailed paper on the influence of Sly and the Family Stone on modern music genres.
  3. Organize a Virtual Discussion: Host an online discussion or webinar about the cultural impact of 1970s music, highlighting "Family Affair."

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss the Influence: Discuss how "Family Affair" and Sly and the Family Stone influenced the development of funk and psychedelic music.
  2. Modern Relevance: Analyze the relevance of the song's themes in today's societal context.
  3. Musical Evolution: Trace the evolution of music from the 1970s to the present, highlighting how songs like "Family Affair" paved the way.
  4. Cultural Impact: Discuss the cultural impact of racially and gender-integrated bands in the music industry.
  5. Technology in Music: Explore the role of technological advancements, like the Rhythm King drum machine, in shaping modern music.

OERs on the Topic


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