Legendary funk artist Sly Stone, who alleges that his former manager helped divert and misappropriate tens of millions of dollars owed him for more than 20 years, told a civil jury Tuesday that he took legal action to get what he believed was owed to him.
“I couldn’t get any money,” the 71-year-old Stone, dressed completely in black and looking frail, said when asked by attorney Robert Allan to explain why he filed suit in January 2010.
Asked by Allan if he believed he was the victim of a breach of promises made to him, Stone replied, “Yes.”
When Allan inquired if Stone received any royalty statements from ex- manager Gerald Goldstein or anyone else from 1989-2009, he said, “Not that I know of.”
For part of his testimony, Stone sat slumped in the witness stand while resting his head on his right hand.
Stone’s suit names Goldstein and music attorney Glenn Stone. The former frontman for the band Sly and the Family Stone alleges he was betrayed by the two men he hired in the late 1980s to look after his interests and make sure he received any royalties due him.
Also named as co-defendants are several Goldstein-affiliated companies that another of Stone’s attorneys, Nicholas Hornberger, contends the defendant used to assist in the alleged scheme to defraud the musician. They include Even St. Productions Ltd. and Majoken Inc.
According to Hornberger, Goldstein used the allegedly diverted royalties to live a lavish lifestyle and purchase luxurious properties.
Attorney Gregory Bodell, on behalf of Goldstein and Glenn Stone, said the singer broke promises to both his clients made under a 1988 agreement to make new records as part of the parties’ joint efforts to revitalize his career.
Bodell said the singer owned a half interest in both companies and was paid millions of dollars during his association with Goldstein and Glenn Stone.
Stone formed Sly and the Family Stone in 1966, and the group was successful for a decade before breaking up in the mid-1970s. Their hits included “Everyday People, “Dance To The Music,” “Family Affair,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and “Thank You.”
Stone developed a cocaine problem and eventually fell on hard times, during which he lived out of a camper truck with electricity provided by a family in the Crenshaw District, according Hornberger.
Stone also had huge tax debts, Bodell said. He said his clients hired noted criminal defense attorney Harland Braun to clear up many of Stone’s legal problems, all in the hope the singer would deliver on his commitment to make more records.
Part of Stone’s testimony dealt with questions from Allan about the tax statements. Stone, whose real name is Sylvester Stewart, answered many of the attorneys’ questions about his taxes and other matters by saying he was unsure or that he could not remember.
Goldstein is himself a former musician who was once a member of The Strangeloves. He co-wrote The Angels’ “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “Come on Down to My Boat Baby” for Every Mother’s Son.
— City News Service