Sly & The Family Stone's Unforgettable Woodstock Performance

August 15, 2015 marked the 46th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival

The historic Woodstock Music & Art Fair, known as the Woodstock Festival, was held August 15-18, 1969 at Max Yasgur’s 600 acre farm in the Catskills in the town of Bethel, New York. 32 acts performed outdoors for 400,000 people in one of the greatest events in music history.

The list of artists performing included Sly & The Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, The Who, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; and Joe Cocker.

Three months prior to the festival, The Family Stone had released their fourth album, Stand! featuring the hits "Sing a Simple Song", "I Want to Take You Higher", "Stand!", and "Everyday People.” The group performed early Sunday morning August 17, 1969 from 3:20 a.m. to 4:20 a.m. following Joplin's set. Boosted by the publicity from their triumphant Woodstock performance, Stand! became Sly & the Family Stone's most successful album, selling over three million copies.

Sly & The Family Stone Woodstock Festival performers: 

Sly Stone – vocals, Keyboards

Freddie Stone – guitar, vocals

Larry Graham – bass, vocals

Rose Stone – keyboards, vocals

Cynthia Robinson – trumpet, vocals

Jerry Martini – saxophone

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'Stand!" album sells over three million copies

Sly & the Family Stone. David Redfern/Redferns

Sly & The Family Stone released their fourth album, Stand! on May 3,1969, three months prior to the Woodstock Festival. The group’s pulsating performance at the festival boosted sales of the album and it sold over three million copies. It was reissued in 1990 on vinyl and CD.

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"Everyday People" Billboard Hot 100 number one single

Sly Stone performing at the 1969 Woodstock Festival on August 17, 1969 in Bethel, New York. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

"Everyday People" was the fourth song in Sly & The Family Stone's Woodstock set, and the message of peace and equality resonated with the festival audience."Everyday People" was the first single from the 1969 Stand! album, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts, and was ranked by Billboard as the number five single of the year.

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"Stand!" single reissued following Woodstock Festival

Sly Stone. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Sly & The Family Stone closed their Woodstock set with the title song of their 1969 album, Stand!. In 1970, following the release of the Woodstock documentary, "Stand!" was reissued.

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"I Want To Take You Higher" reissued following Woodstock Festival

Sly Stone. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The highlight of Sly & The Family Stone's Woodstock set was their exhilarating ten minute performance of "I Want to Take You Higher." The song was originally the B-side of "Stand!," and it received such an overwhelming response that it was re-issued as an A-side in 1970 following the release of the Woodstock documentary.

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Woodstock soundtracks:

Sly & The Family Stone. Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

Several soundtrack albums were released following the Woodstock Festival. 

Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, was a 3-LP album that featured a medley of “Dance to The Music,” “Music Lover,” and “I Want to Take You Higher” by Sly & The Family Stone. The same medley is contained on the four-CD box set, Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music, and the six-CD box set, Woodstock - 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm. 

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Woodstock Experience

Sly & The Family Stone. David Warner Ellis/Redferns)

In 2009, complete performances from Woodstock by Santana, Janis Joplin, Sly & The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, and Johnny Winter were included in The Woodstock Experience Box set. The set also featured The Family Stone’s Stand! Album as well as the latest studio releases from Santana, Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and Winter.

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'Sly & The Family Stone: The Woodstock Experience'

Crowd at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969 in Bethel, New York. Clayton Call/Redfern

On June 30, 2009, Sly & The Family Stone: The Woodstock Experience was released as a double CD set consisting of the group's entire Woodstock performance, and their 1969 album, Stand!

Sly & the Family Stone Woodstock Festival Set List

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'Woodstock' documentary wins Academy Award

Monument of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival at original site, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, New York State, United States of America, North America : Stock Photo View similar images More from this photographer Download comp Monument of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival at original site, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, New York. Wendy Connett Moment Select

The Woodstock documentary was released on March 26, 1970 and it won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It included Sly & The Family Stone's performance of "Dance to the Music" and "I Want to Take You Higher."

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"Hot Fun in the Summertime" becomes number seven song of 1969

Woodstock Festival tickets. Blank Archives/Getty Images

Sly & The Family Stone released their single "Hot Fun in the Summertime" following their Woodstock performance, It reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the R&B chart. The song was included in their Greatest Hits album that was released November 21, 1970.

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"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" hits number one on Billboard

Woodstock Festival brochure. Blank Archives/Getty Images

Sly & The Family Stone continued to ride the massive wave of popularity generated by their Woodstock performance with the release of the single "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" in December 1969. The song reached the top of the Billboard  Hot 100, and remained at number one on the R&B chart for five weeks. It was included in the 1970 Greatest Hits album.