Written by: Alex Green
Cynthia Robinson, who co-founded Sly and the Family Stone has died.
She was 69.
The pioneering trumpet player, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was diagnosed with cancer a little more than a month ago.
Her Facebook page offered this: “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 illness gave rise to the Cynthia Robinson Cancer Care Fund, which was designed to aid the ailing musician’s medical bills.
You can still donate here, as Robinson’s page is hoping for continued support.
The Sacramento-born Robinson, who Sly Stone once called “one of the best trumpeters in the world,” played with everyone from Prince to George Clinton.
She and Sly Stone have a daughter together named Phunne.
Sax great Jerry Martini told Billboard: “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.”
But it’s Questlove of The Roots, who penned the most moving tribute to Robinson on Instagram:
“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.”
Check out this clip of Robinson and Sly and the Family Stone absolutely destroying on The Ed Sullivan Show.