This piece, from 2016, in The Guardian makes a fantastic point. Instead of having a massive outpouring of love, admiration, and respect for amazing musicians after they die, why not honor and celebrate them while they're still with us. Case in point: Sly Stone.
Even when Stone does pass on (hopefully many years from now), there's unlikely to be a Prince or Bowie sized outpouring of grief – and think-pieces. Though Sly's widely acknowledged as a rock legend, after 40 years out of the spotlight he barely figures in pop culture. You can gauge the extent of Stone's marginalization by the reaction to the death last year of his collaborator and the mother of one of his children, legendary funk trumpeter and singer Cynthia Robinson. She received brief obituaries, but people on social media hardly noticed.
Stone may not be much thought about, but his music still sounds startlingly current. More than George Clinton, more than James Brown, more even perhaps than Prince, Sly and the Family Stone's hits foreshadow the bricolage construction and magpie eclecticism of hip-hop. The first track on Sly Stone's first album, 1967's A Whole New Thing, opens with what is effectively a proto-sample: a horn riff from, of all things, Frère Jacques.
And here's a thought: Let's celebrate everyone who inspires us, informs us, entertains us, and whose presence enriches us while they are alive. Say what you would say about them now that you would say about them after they pass away.
[H/t Danny Frankel]