Larry Graham Biography
Larry Graham, Jr. (born August 14, 1946 in Beaumont, Texas) is an American baritone singer, musician, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known as both the bass guitar player in the popular and influential psychedelic soul/funk band Sly & the Family Stone, and as the founder and frontman of Graham Central Station. He is credited with the invention of the slapping technique, which radically expanded the tonal palette of the bass guitar.
Although bassplayers for decades, indeed into antiquity, had been "slapping" their basses with their thumbs using a rotation of the wrist, Larry Graham pioneered the art of slap-pop playing on the electric bass guitar. The slap-pop style, archetypical of modern funk, couples a percussive thumb-slapping technique of the lower strings with an aggressive finger-snap of the higher strings, often in rhythmic alternation. So-called "Machine-gun bass" (as exemplified by Les Claypool, Bootsy Collins, Louis Johnson, Mark King, Flea, Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, John Norwood Fisher, P-Nut, Danny McCormack, Dirk Lance) relies on the slap-pop technique, incorporating a large ratio of mute/ghost tones to normal tones.
Graham played bass in the highly successful and influential funk band Sly & the Family Stone from 1967 to 1972. Upon the band's disintegration due to lead singer Sly Stone's drug addiction, Graham formed his own band, Graham Central Station. The name is a pun of "Grand Central Station", a famous train station located in the Manhattan borough of New York City. Graham Central Station had several hits in the 1970s, including "Hair."
In the mid 1970s, Larry Graham was also a key member in the career of Betty Davis, wife of jazz legend Miles Davis. With a band that also included members of the Tower of Power horns and the Pointer Sisters, Betty Davis recorded three albums to critical acclaim but limited commercial success.
In 1975, Graham became a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
In the early 1980s, Graham recorded five solo albums and had several solo hits. His biggest hit was "One in a Million, You", which reached number 9 on the Billboard chart in 1980.
He recorded another album in the late 1990s, with a new band using the Graham Central Station name. Two of the new members were former Family Stone bandmates Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini. He also toured with Prince and his band as his bassist in 2000.