Larry Graham and Graham Central Station
LARRY GRAHAM, JR. was born on August 14, 1946 in Beaumont, Texas but raised in Oakland, California. When Larry was 11, his father gave him his own personal guitar, since he decided he wasn’t going to perform anymore. Larry taught himself to play and, that same year, began his professional music career playing in his first band. At 13 he recorded his first record. At 15 he joined his mother’s band, The Dell Graham Trio. His mother played piano, with Larry on guitar and Ruben Kerr on drums (a member of his first band).
Larry’s mother decided to change their trio into a duo, just bass and piano. So Larry compensated for not having a bass drum by “thumping” the strings and made up for not having a snare drum by “plucking” them.
In 1968 Larry joined Sly and the Family Stone. Their first album, A Whole New Thing, provided a way for people all over the country to hear Larry’s unique bass playing. Their next album had a number of hit singles such as “Dance to the Music” and “Everybody Is a Star,” both of which allowed his voice as well as his thumping & plucking bass style to be heard around the globe. In 1993 Larry was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Sly and the Family Stone.
In the early ’70s, Larry left Sly and the Family Stone and started to produce a band named Hot Chocolate, which he eventually joined and renamed Graham Central Station. The first album released in early 1974 was named Graham Central Station and it included the hit “Can You Handle It.” Later in 1974 the next album, Release Yourself, yielded the hit “Feel the Need.” That same year GCS was nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist. In 1975 the third album, Ain’t No Bout-A-Doubt It, which went gold and yielded the single “Your Love,” landed in the Top 40 and topped the R&B charts. That album also gave us “The Jam.” In 1976 GCS released the album Mirror, which included the hit “Love Covers a Multitude of Sin.”
The title track of the 1977 album Now Do U Wanta Dance soared on the R&B charts. The final two albums that GCS released were My Radio Sure Sounds Good to Me and Star Walk; My Radio’s title track featured Tina Graham on lead vocal.
In the 1990s, GCS featured Larry’s former Sly and the Family Stone band members Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini. GCS also released a Japanese album titled By Popular Demand. Their last album to date, GCS 2000, was released in 1999.
In 1979 Larry launched his solo career and then became known for his soulful ballads. In 1980 he released the album One in a Million You, and its title track became not only a Top-10 hit but also a beloved romantic ballad. Larry was nominated for another Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance. The single “Just Be My Lady” was another hit for Larry from his 1981 album of the same name. Then 1982 saw the release of Sooner or Later, which also enjoyed great popularity. In 1983 Larry released his album Victory and in 1985 he released an album in Japan titled Fired Up. In 1987 Larry recorded a duet with Aretha Franklin named “If You Need My Love Tonight.” A few years later Larry teamed up with his friend comedian/singer Eddie Murphy to lead Eddie’s band Psychedelic Psoul, which toured the U.S. and Europe.
Larry is continuously writing (he always will be), and he along with the rest of Sly and the Family Stone received the Rhythm & Blues “Pioneer Award” in 2001. Since 1975, he has also been very involved in his volunteer work as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Larry has performed at international venues both as a solo performer as well as with Graham Central Station and Prince, and enjoyed a very successful world tour in 2010. Once again, Larry and GCS are sharing the joy of funk with their 2011 “Funk Around The World” Tour.