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Sly Stone Pleads Not Guilty to Crack Cocaine Possession

Sly Stone (real name, Sylvester Stewart) of Sly & the Family Stone fame was arrested for possession of crack cocaine when a vehicle he was traveling in was pulled over, in Los Angeles, for a traffic violation. Cocaine rocks were allegedly found in Stone’s clothing as well as in those of the driver. On Wednesday, Stone pleaded not guilty.

Reuters reports that one of Stone’s attorneys, Peter Knecht, maintains that the cocaine in question did not belong to Stone. “A lot of musicians hang out with people who have drugs,” he told Reuters. He went on to say that “you can’t punish a guy for what he did 40 years ago, 30 years ago.”

Stone, age 68, has had a long history of drug and gun charges and the reclusive star has had few, erratic public appearances in the past decade or so, including a disastrous non-performance at Coachella in 2010 and an odd walk-on during a tribute to him at the Grammy Awards in 2006. During the latter appearance, a mohawk-sporting Stone walked onstage during a tribute-rendition of his hit, ‘I Want to Take You Higher’ but, strangely, made his exit before the song was even finished.

Stone’s influence on funk and soul music is immeasurable, as he is considered one of the big three of modern funk, alongside James Brown and George Clinton — all of which championed their own, distinct brand of popular genre.