Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trumpeter Cynthia Robinson has died.
Born in Sacramento, California, Robinson was one of the first female black trumpeters to gain notoriety in a major recording act. Robinson was a member of Sly Stone’s first band, The Stoners, in the mid-1960s. Later, she became a founding member of Sly and the Family Stone, with Robinson’s voice appearing on every album the band recorded from 1967’s A Whole New Thing to 1974’s Small Talk.
Following the band’s break-up in 1975, Robinson continued to work with Stone as well as bassist Larry Graham’s funk outfit, Graham Central Station. During her long and illustrious career, Robinson also played alongside George Clinton and Prince.
Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside her Sly and the Family Stone colleagues in 1993, becoming the first first female and first African-American trumpet player to be inducted into the Hall.
Below, you can read a tribute to Robinson from The Roots’ Questlove.
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