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Top Old School R&B And Funk Artists From The Bay Area
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Top Old School R&B And Funk Artists From The Bay Area

Picture of Daniel Martinez
Updated: 12 January 2017
Here is a list of the top six old school funk and R&B artists to come out of the Bay Area.
Sheila E  l  © Melissa Locker
Sheila E l | © Melissa Locker

Sheila E

Let’s start this list off with a bang, literally. Actually, Sheila E. has a latin percussion groove to be precise. She is the multitalented female drummer/percussionist/singer. Sheila was destined for musical stardom, learning her musical abilities under her dad, Pete Escovedo, a Bay Area native and well known percussionist. Prince noticed her talents and produced her 1984 debut album, ‘The Glamorous Life’, which contains the smash title track and is considered a classic R&B jam. She was also featured in the movie, ‘Krush Groove’ which contains the song ‘Love Bizarre’, a duet with the Purple One. When people list the greatest drummers in the world, past or present, Sheila E would be right up on this list. Sheila E has the musicianship, singing abilities and the timeless beauty that some of today’s artist are severely lacking.

Con Funk Shun

Con Funk Shun has so much funk in them that the word ‘funk’ is in their bands name. The band has extremely high energy shows, funky performances and songs that range from dance work outs such as ‘Got To Be Enough’ and ‘Ms. Got-The-Body’ to the soulful, sexy ballads such as ‘Love’s Train’ and ‘Straight From the Heart’. ‘Love’s Train’ is about a love triangle, that according to the band, was about a girl and two members of the band. For over 40 years, Con Funk Shun has been bring the funk to people all around the world.

Sly and the Family Stone

One of the most influential R&B groups is Sly and the Family Stone. Sly wrote songs that tackled political issues and racism while delivering irresistible dance grooves. The band has influenced every generation of music and is the interracial band members make it very unique. Larry Graham was the bassist for the band and developed a personal style called ‘slap bass’ that has been a big influence on funk music. With legendary singles such as, ‘Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin’ and ‘Everyday People’, Sly and the Family Stone has earned its place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where they were inducted in 1993.

Tony Toni Tone!

‘Play this record as frequently as possible. Then as it becomes easier for you, play the record once a day, or as needed’ – Tony Toni Tone!

These lyrics are from the opening of their New Jack Swing classic, ‘It Feels Good’. Just the right dose of funky music to sooth the soul and bring a smile to anyones face. Tony Toni Tone! was one of those rare bands that had stronger ballads than uptempo jams. Check out the ballads, ‘Whatever You Want’ or the slow jam in ‘Lay Your Head On My Pillow’ while cuddling up with a loved one. For the couples who need a anniversary song, look no further than the catchy hit song, ‘Anniversary’. It feels good!

Tower of Power  l  © Lowrider
Tower of Power l | © Lowrider

Tower of Power

The Oakland band with the East Bay Sound goes to Tower of Power. The horn driven funk band has a killer horn section that rivals the best of any time period of music. The rhythm section is lead by drummer David Garibaldi, playing in the pocket with the grooves. Check out ‘Squib Cake’ to hear how extraordinary his drumming is. He is one of the most influential drummers, along side Neil Peart from Rush. Only live drums and no drum machines with this band. The band has concert staples such as ‘What is Hip?’, ‘So Very Hard to Go’ and ‘You’re Still a Young Man’. You can’t funk with that.

The Pointer Sister  l  © mtv.com
The Pointer Sister l | © mtv.com

Pointer Sisters

The trio of sisters were as interchangeable with their musical sound as Prince or David Bowie. The Pointer Sisters were at the height of there popularity after a string of 80’s jams such as ‘I’m So Excited’ and ‘He’s So Shy’. When going to an 80’s party make sure to play, ‘Automatic’, and make sure that everyone has their Jheri curl and mullet wigs on.