Sister Sledge is four sisters whose last names really are Sledge. They were a backup band for various artists before releasing this album, which was their first. This was their biggest hit; their first single, "He's The Greatest Dancer
," was also a Top-10 hit in the US.
This was written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. Their band Chic had a hit at the time with "Le Freak
." Rodgers and Edwards got the idea for the song's title when they first met the sisters.
The guitar riff is based on a song called "Do What You Wanna Do" by Children Of God. Rodgers was waiting for the right song to use it on.
Luther Vandross, a struggling singer at the record label, sang backup. Vandross became a star years later.
This became an anthem for women's groups, as well as anyone with a message of unity.
The group recorded this in one take. Kathy Sledge, who sang lead, did not know the lyrics ahead of time. Rodgers and Edwards gave her each line through her headphones as it came up to make it sound spontaneous.
This was used in commercials for an early version of Diet Pepsi called Pepsi Free, with the obvious line, "We are Pepsi Free."
The Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team used this as their theme song in 1979. Led by Willie "Pops" Stargell, they came back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. The song got constant airplay on Pittsburgh radio stations as the Pirates' season progressed. For the team, it represented players of different backgrounds coming together as one. The words "The Family" were printed on top of their dugout during the World Series.
Bernard Edwards went on to produce The Power Station and was recognized as one of the great bass players of the disco era. He died of pneumonia in 1996 at age 43.
The all-girl rock group Babes in Toyland released a popular cover of this song in 1995.
In 2001, Nile Rodgers produced a new version of this song featuring Britney Spears, Steven Tyler, 'N Sync, Run-D.M.C., Busta Rhymes, Kevin Bacon, Joan Rivers and Vanessa Williams along with Sister Sledge. Proceeds went to help families of victims of the terrorist attacks on America. Spike Lee shot the video for the new version.
In 2003, Joe Lieberman used this as his campaign song when he started running for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. He was trying to push the message that he could unite the Democrats and win the election.
Nile Rodgers considers the We Are Family album to be the best LP he's ever made. He told Billboard magazine in 2017: "That was the record that proved we could do what we do for ourselves for others, that we could look inside someone's soul and put our version of their truth onto them and superimpose it onto them and create this new entity we believed we understood. There's no filler on Sister Sledge; every song is awesome. It was a record that was really incredible to us."