The Real Riot Behind Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin On

In the final episode of The Opus: There's a Riot Goin On, we revisit the event that birthed the title

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The Opus: There’s a Riot Goin On

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    The title of There’s a Riot Goin On is a reference to an actual riot that broke out during a Sly and the Family Stone concert that never happened.

    On July 27th, 1970, Sly and his band were set to play a first-of-its-kind concert at the Petrillo Bandshell in Chicago’s Grant Park. Before the Family Stone had even arrived, however, an unknown group called Fat Water had performed a three-song set — but the crowd wasn’t expecting the show to have opening acts. As the next band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, appeared on stage, the crowd hurled projectiles at them, inciting a riot that would leave 162 injured.


    Unlike previous riots in the city, this one wasn’t motivated by race or politics, though the circumstances leading up to it certainly were. Still, this disastrous event was the result of what amounted to a misunderstanding, but one that led to big cultural consequence.

    In this final episode of The Opus: There’s a Riot Goin On, we look back at the events of that day and what lead up to a Chicago riot that would change music history. Host Jill Hopkins welcomes former commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Mark Kelly and Summer of Soul producer Joseph Patel to discuss the infamous moment that birthed a classic album.

    Check out the final episode of The Opus Season 17 above or wherever you get your podcasts, and make sure to review, like, and subscribe to The Opus to keep up with future seasons.


    The Opus fans can also pick up our official hoodie and T-shirt at the Consequence Shop or via the buy-now buttons below. In celebration of the Season 17, both items are on sale for 25% off! Just enter the code OPUS25 at checkout.

    Original music by Tony Piazza.

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