After more or less disappearing in the early ’70s, Sly Stone has promised that he was “back” from his self-imposed exile more than a few times — first in 1976 with Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back, again in 1979 with Back On The Right Track, and now with this week’s release of I’m Back! Family & Friends. This release, his first since 1982, is also his first for the largely goth-industrial label Cleopatra Records, and it features largely new versions of old material. Still, any new album from Sly Stone is an occasion worth celebrating — this time, with a look at some other famously reclusive musicians.
1. Kate Bush
Want to see a Kate Bush on tour? Great! Just hop in the DeLorean and set it for a five-week period in Spring 1979, since that is the only time she has ever done that.
2. Jeff Mangum
A perfect example of the “drop the mic” thing the youngsters do these days, Jeff Mangum released Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea in 1998, and then followed up that near-perfect album by neither recording new material nor playing live. He dipped his toe in the “performing songs that have taken on mythic proportions during his absence” waters last winter, and is now actively touring — and playing Neutral Milk Hotel songs — for the first time in a decade.
The king of reclusive musicians, not only did Jandek stay out of the public eye for the first two and a half decades of his recording career, nobody even knew who the dude was until he played his first show — 26 years after releasing his first album — in 2004. It’s still not totally clear what his real name is.
It’s entirely possible that zen monk Leonard Cohen would have never hit the road again, happy to divvy his time between meditating on mountaintops (as he did from 1994-1999) and recording an album every decade or so, if his management hadn’t ripped him off for $5 million in 2005. Now Cohen is (reluctantly) back to performing.
Every year, they promise that D’Angelo is recording the best material of his career, and the follow-up to 2000’s Voodoo will blow your mind. Every year, he refuses to do interviews, perform live, or release new material. Still, it’ll totally happen in 2011, his management promises.