In celebration of funk pioneer Larry Graham‘s 67th birthday, we flip through his legendary catalog to take a look at his massive impact on soul music. Larry Graham began his journey into the land of bass legends while playing in his mother’s band, The Dell-Graham Trio. It was there that he would pick up bass before emerging as a musical leader and funk virtuoso with Sly and the Family Stone. His exit from Sly Stone‘s band made way for Graham Central Station and what would become Larry Graham’s huge impact on funk and soul as the widely recognized pioneer of the slap bass technique – an approach to funk bass that he refers to as thumpin’ and pluckin’.
Graham can count Bootsy Collins, Victor Wooten, Pino Palladino, Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller amongst the many devotees of his playing style. Graham also remains a close friend and mentor of Prince – a musical icon whose talent and uber-prolific career exists on another plane, thanks in-part to the influence of Graham and other innovators like him. Truly a one-in-a-million talent, Larry Graham’s contributions to funk and soul could never be summed up in words. To get a true feel for what he has given to the game over several decades, you have to listen to the music. Check the footage below for a relentlessly funky performance of “Release Yourself” from a 1974 episode of Soul Train featuring Graham Central Station. Keep your tambourines handy for the soul-clapping breakdown. Chase that with Graham Central Station’s performance of “Pow” on Soul Train before jumping into some uncut footage full of bottom-heavy stank from Larry Graham featuring Prince and Marcus Miller. Head over to The Revivalist for an in-depth breakdown of Larry Graham’s musical contributions and legendary career.