Sly and the Family Stone's Cynthia Robinson Dies at 69
The musician's death was confirmed through her Facebook page, with the post adding: "Our condolences go out to the Robinson Family and her bandmates and all family & friends! You are in our thoughts and prayers and we are here for you."
Robinson's health issues had been brought up through her Facebook page before, with her cancer diagnosis having been revealed in October. It had also brought attention to the charitable Cynthia Robinson Cancer Care Fund, which was created to help offset the rising costs of medical care. The Facebook page asks for continued support.
Trumpeter Robinson joined up with Sly Stone in 1966, first playing together in Sly and the Stoners before they formed the Family Stone. In addition to her trumpet playing, Robinson famously demanded we "get up and dance to the music" on the band's iconic "Dance to the Music." The band leader went on to label her "one of the best trumpeters in the world."
Robinson played with the Family Stone until their dissolution in 1975 and would go on to perform with the likes of Prince, George Clinton and Larry Graham's Graham Central Station. In 2006, she linked up with a modified Family Stone, which also featured original saxophonist Jerry Martini and Sylvette Phunne Stone, Robinson's daughter with Sly Stone. Robinson also has a daughter named Laura Marie.
"She covered a lot of ground," Martini told Billboard of his old bandmate. "She was the first female trumpet player and the first African-American trumpet player in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She wasn't in the back. She was out front telling you to get up and dance to the music, and she could blow with the best of 'em, always."
Various outpourings for the fallen musician have surfaced over social media since the announcement of her death. You'll find a lengthy tribute from the Roots' Questlove down below, as well as a stream of "Dance to the Music."
All The Squares Go Home. Goodbye to Cynthia Robinson. Music's original "hypeman" 20 years before Public Enemy pioneered the "Vice President" position. But she wasn't just a screaming cheerleading foil to Sly & Freddie's gospel vocals. She was a KICK ASS trumpet player. A crucial intricate part of Sly Stone's utopian vision of MLK's America: Sly & The Family Stone were brothers & cousins. friends & enemies. black & white. male & female. saint & sinner. common man & superheroes. guarded & vulnerable. poets & punks. hip & square. She was so cool to us the day we opened up for #SlyAndTheFamilyStone she never ever lost a step or a beat. Even when we weren't so sure if Sly was coming or going during that "comeback" tour (he'd play 20 mins, come onstage and cameo w em for 2 songs, leave, watch them then come back 30 mins later) Cynthia Robinson held that band down. Until her passing The Family Stone was one of the last few #RRHOF groups from the 60s in which ALL original members were still present & accounted for. part of me held hope that #LarryGraham would bury the hatchet & return to the fold just one more time (could you imagine HOW powerful a Sly #GCS combo coulda been? Even if Sly pulled that 6 song ish you know and I know #Prince would be in the wings as pinch hitter and we'd all be the more wiser for it. Cynthia's role in music history isn't celebrated enough. Her & sister Rose weren't just pretty accessories there to "coo" & "shoo wop shoo bob" while the boys got the glory. Naw. They took names and kicked ass while you were dancing in the aisle. Much respect to amazing #CynthiaRobinson