Living Colour: Wikis


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Living Colour

Live in Vienna, 1993
Background information
Origin New York City, New York, USA
Genres Funk metal, heavy metal, hard rock, alternative metal
Years active 1983 – 1995
2000 – present
Labels Sanctuary, Epic
Associated acts Headfake, Wood Brass & Steel, Vice
Corey Glover
Vernon Reid
Doug Wimbish
Will Calhoun
Former members
Muzz Skillings

Living Colour is an American funk metal band from New York City, formed in 1983. Stylistically, the band's music is a creative fusion influenced by heavy metal, funk, hard rock, free jazz, hardcore punk and hip hop (although the band are frequently tagged as being a "hard rock" act). Their lyrics range from the personal to the political, in some of the latter cases attacking the Eurocentrism and racism of America. The band were prominent members of the Black Rock Coalition during the late 1980s and early 1990s (a movement which also featured Fishbone, and 24-7 Spyz).

Living Colour rose to fame with their debut album Vivid in 1988. Although the band scored a number of hits, they are best remembered for their anthemic single "Cult of Personality", which won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1989, and their highest charting single "Type". They were also named Best New Artist at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. After disbanding in 1995, Living Colour reunited in 2000.




Early years (1983 – 1986)

Living Colour was formed in New York City in 1983 by guitarist Vernon Reid. They grew out of the Black Rock Coalition, a non-profit organization founded by (among others) Reid for black musicians interested in playing rock music.

Reid, British-born but a longtime New York resident, was well known on the downtown New York jazz scenes courtesy of his tenure in Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society. A guitarist of unnerving technique and speed, he assembled a number of bands under the name Living Colour from 1983 to 1986.

Early band members included bassists Alex Mosely, Jerome Harris and Carl James, drummers Greg Carter, Pheeroan Aklaff and J.T. Lewis, keyboardist Geri Allen, and vocalists D.K. Dyson and Mark Ledford, with Reid occasionally singing lead vocals himself. The band's sound was vastly different from the songs that showed up later on their major label recordings. Material from this period included instrumental jazz/funk workouts, politically pointed punk rock burners, experimental excursions via Reid's guitar synth, and an early version of the song "Funny Vibe", which was reworked for their debut album Vivid.

Mainstream success (1986 – 1991)

In 1986, a stable lineup was formed, consisting of vocalist Corey Glover (who Reid met at a birthday party and was suitably impressed with a rendition of "Happy Birthday"), bassist Muzz Skillings, and drummer Will Calhoun (who had graduated with honors from Berklee College of Music). With Calhoun and particularly Skillings, Reid had a rhythm section with the ability to express themselves in dozens of forms, and with Glover he had a vocalist who could produce depths of soul or rage upon demand.

Soon after, the band became experienced at touring, including performing regular gigs at the club CBGB's. Aided by a demo produced by fan Mick Jagger (who hired Reid and Calhoun to play on his 1987 album Primitive Cool), Living Colour scored a record deal with Epic Records, and released their debut studio album Vivid in mid-1988, reaching #6 on the Billboard 200. The album gathered sales momentum only when in late 1988 MTV began playing the video for "Cult of Personality". On April 1, 1989, the band performed on NBC's Saturday Night Live. Four months later, the band gained further exposure as an opening act, along with Guns N' Roses, for the The Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour.

In 1990, the band's second full-length album, Time's Up, was a sprawling affair that capitalized on the ability of its members to work in numerous musical contexts; jazz fusion, punk rock, delta blues, hip hop (cameos by Queen Latifah and Doug E. Fresh), funk, thrash metal, jive, and hints of electronica were all represented. The album reached #13 in the US and won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Album. Other guests included Maceo Parker and Little Richard.

In 1991, Living Colour joined the inaugural Lollapalooza tour and released an EP of outtakes entitled Biscuits.

Second line-up & Split (1992 – 1995)

In 1992, Skillings left the band due to creative differences and was replaced by Doug Wimbish. This new line up released their third full-length album, Stain, in 1993, revealing an emotionally darker, more personal side of the group. The album reached #26 in the US, a further drop since their debut.

Despite retaining their strong fan base, Living Colour disbanded in January 1995 after failing to settle on a common musical goal during sessions for their fourth studio album. Four of these tracks were included on the compilation Pride.

Following the break up, individual band members released a variety of solo efforts.

Reunion (2000 – present)

Living Colour reformed on December 22, 2000 at CBGB's as a gig billed "Head>>Fake w/ special guests." Head>>Fake was the current drum and bass project headed by Calhoun and Wimbish. Corey Glover was on the bill to sing a few songs and Vernon Reid came on after three songs. The reunion was followed by the release of another dark record, Collideøscope, in 2003, their first album not to chart in the United States, although it was critically praised.

In 2005, Sony Records released Live From CBGB's, a live album recorded on December 19, 1989 at the legendary CBGB's, as well as another "best of" compilation, Everything Is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour, with songs from Vivid to Collideøscope.

On August 2006, Glover took on the role of Judas in a national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, touring with Ted Neeley. Doug Pinnick, vocalist and bassist of King's X, filled in for Glover on lead vocals.[1] Glover's tour of the musical ran through June 2008, and he is now back with the band.

On September 22, 2006, Muzz Skillings joined the band for the first time in 14 years when they played at a private party which drummer Jack DeJohnette threw for his wife Lydia. Wimbish was unable to come back from his base in London to play for the event, so Skillings agreed to take over as bassist, albeit only for the event.

The band performed a week-long European Tour starting on December 12, 2006. In May 2007, the band released their first live DVD - On Stage At World Cafe Live. On July 11, 2008, the band performed at the 1980s hard rock-themed Rocklahoma festival at Pryor, Oklahoma. Once again, Skillings performed with them in August 2008 for a Black Rock Coalition Band of Gypsys tribute in Harlem. They performed "Them Changes" and "Power of Soul".

Corey Glover and Doug Wimbish (2008)

On October 25, 2008, MVD Audio and CBGB's records released CBGB OMFUG MASTERS: August 19, 2005 The Bowery Collection, a soundboard collection of songs from the Save CBGB's benefit show. On November 25, 2008, Inakustik and MVD released The Paris Concert, a DVD recorded at New Morning, in Paris France during their Summer 2007 European Tour.

The band released their fifth studio album, The Chair in the Doorway, on September 15, 2009 on Megaforce Records. The album sold approximately 2,800 copies in its first week and landed at No. 159 on the Billboard 200. This was the band's first album to chart since Stain in 1993. The band is currently touring the U.S and Europe in support of the record.[2]

Acclaim and legacy

Living Colour was ranked #70 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.

"Cult of Personality" was part of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas repertoire of radio songs in Radio X. In early 2009, WWE used "Cult of Personality" in the video promoting the induction of Stone Cold Steve Austin into its Hall of Fame. The song was also one of the theme songs used by professional wrestler CM Punk. It was also the very first song to be confirmed for the tracklist of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.

In October 2006, "Love Rears Its Ugly Head" was ranked and voted 303 out of 2006 songs featured in the Triple M Essential 2006 Countdown.

Rolling Stone have called the band, "Black-funk-metal pioneers"[3].



MTV Video Music Awards

Grammy Awards


External links


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