[ Living ]
A Band Grows In Brooklyn
“Open Letter to a Landlord”
b/ Living Colour Vivid (1988)
((( LISTEN )))
still loud. still proud. still relevant.
n Vernon Reid (guitar)
n Corey Glover (vocals)
n Will Calhoun (drums)
n Doug Wimbish (bass guitar)
More than 30 years after Vivid and “Cult of Personality” were released, Living Colour is still active, and reigns as one of Rock N Roll’s finest (hard rock / metal / funk / fusion) bands.
“Freedom of Expression,” the opening of Shade (2017) is a reminder that Vernon Reid and Living Colour are never reluctant to express their sometimes vicious, but always honest opinon … They believe in Truth, Racial Harmony, and Equal Justice for all, and have the confidence and virtuosity to say it loud, and say it proud.
“What’s Your Favorite Color?”
b/ Living Colour
Live @ Sully’s Pub & Tiki Bar (2013)
((( LISTEN )))
December 27, 2OO1 — Living Colour had was into the 8th year of a hiatus when it reunited at CBGB, December 21, 2000. 9/11 interrupted the band’s 2OO1 reunion tour, and once again Living Colour’s future was in serious doubt. Two months later, everyone was in agreement, and eager to make up the cancelled shows, and finish the tour as originally scheduled, New Year’s 2002, at CBGB, where Living Colour’s Post-Apocalyptic Era began.
“Crosstown Traffic” (above) was the encore performance at the Disney House Of Blues (Orlando, Florida), the last show before New Year’s. Listen to Vernon introduce the Jimi Hendrix tune. “We started the show with our man, and we’re gonna end the show with our man,” before playing the familiar guitar intro.
1980 — DOWNTOWN NYC
Vernon Reid — As a member of Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society, and playing and recording with DEFUNKT, another Underground NYC favorite, and in the Avant-Funk/Outside Jazz scene, Vernon’s hot-shit reputation in the Avant-Funk/Outside Jazz scene was earned early. Artistically restless though, Vernon stepped out on his own and started building the band he called Living Colour.
“Inner City Blues”
b/ Living Colour Shade (2017)
((( LISTEN )))
1985 — Hearing Corey Glover sing “Happy Birthday” at a mutual friend’s birthday party, Vernon asked Corey if he’d be interested in jamming with his band, Living Colour? More an actor, including a role in Oliver Stone’s Platoon, Corey had never considered singing in a Rock ‘N’ Roll band, but intrigued, he agreed.
In Vernon’s mind, the session with Corey, as all others, was an audition, and it didn’t take long for Vernon to know Corey was what he was looking for, and he offed him the job.
Corey agreeing to join, made Living Colour the band he always wanted it to be.
In addition to Vernon and Corey, Will Calhoun (drums) and Muzz Skillings (bass)completed the band that went on to tour with the Rolling Stones, and record the award-winning albums, Vivid and Time’s Up.
“Up On The Roof”
b/ The Drifters Under The Boardwalk (1964)
((( LISTEN )))
— Up On The Roof
There could not have been a more appropriate place (location) for Vernon Reid and Living Colour to stand for their first (Epic Records) promotional photograph. Up On The Roof of a building in their Brooklyn (NYC) neighborhood.
A Band Grows In Brooklyn
1988 — Vivid, Living Colour’s debut, is honestly deserving of it being called a Rock N Roll “Masterpiece.” A record filled with good songs, and a quality of writing that takes Vivid to the next level. More than a collection of great songs, Vivid is ONE GREAT ALBUM. having a socially conscious narrative that holds up as as Within two years, Living Colour had opened for the Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels (North American) Tour, they did a now-legendary Saturday Night Live performance, won two Grammy Awards Vivid goes Double-Platinum, just before the release of Living Colour’s second release, Time’s Up.
n THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LIVING COLOUR
“Cult of Personality”
b/ Living Colour No Dread (1994)
((( LISTEN )))
With help from the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, Living Colour signed with Epic Records and released its debut Vivid (May 3, 1988). The band’s rise was immediate, as it’s first single “Cult Of Personality” was a regular in MTV’s primetime rotation, and Vivid rose to #6 on the U.S. Billboard chart. Then, an (April 1, 1989) appearance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live was an important, high-profile presentation of Living Colour’s psychedelic, day-glo, hard funk, metal attack.
n THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LIVING COLOUR
n FLY ME TO THE MTV MOON
— MTV’s LAUNCH (1:11)
When MTV introduced its new way of “presenting” music on television, Vernon Reid was playing in the darker, more experimental, underground clubs in downtown New York City.
Riding the 1980s’ MTV wave visualization, Living Colour’s rise was fast, and the shining of the band’s star was dramatic and bright. First, a Saturday Night Live appearance (April 1, 1989), introducing Living Colour’s anthemic “Cult Of Personality.” And then Vernon received a call from Mick Jagger, and three months later, Living Colour joined the Rolling Stones’ on their monumental, STEEL WHEELS TOUR.
— “Time Tunnel” (1990) Documentary Film
December 14, 1989 — Vernon Reid, wearing a “Burn Baby Burn” (American Flag) T-shirt, and the rest of Living Colour, after nearly a year on the road, joined the Rolling Stones onstage in Montreal, at Olympic Stadium, for an end-of-tour (Steel Wheels) “It’s Only Rock N Roll” jam.
“Honky Tonk Women” and Kick Ass Rock N Roll Recollection of seeing the Steel Wheels show at the Orange Bowl in Miami’s Little Havana (November 1989). The Rolling Stones and the last half of “Cult of Personality” as we walked into what was usually the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricane’s stadium.
Later that year, Living Colour was asked to open for the Rolling Stones on its Steel Wheels World Tour, for which the band received critical acclaim and enhanced it’s reputation notably. Also in 1989, Living Colour was named “Best New Artist” at the MTV Video Music Awards, and “Cult Of Personality” won a Grammy Award for “Best Hard Rock Performance.”
For Vernon and the band, it was as if they had been invited aboard a rocket ship and suddenly had the opportunity to break free of the music industry’s chaotic atmosphere, and were living a dream, flying high above the daily grind, racing weightless and un-tethered, into a higher, freer space.
Living Colour had earned, and was deserving of, the immediate respect they received from the passionate audiences of CBGB in the early 1980s. Word of their electric live performances reached out of downtown Manhattan, and spread like fire all around New York City’s Five Boroughs (Beastie Boys), especially Brooklyn and the Bronx.
No matter their extreme talent and instant attraction, Living Colour, like any young band would have been, was of any young band, a sudden change to flying all across America, playing football stadiums, all across North America, to crowds of 100,000 Rolling Stones fans, was the thrown-into-the-deep-end, Rock N Roll moment in Living Colour history.
Vernon and the band took full advantage of the opportunity, impressing, not only millions of Rolling Stones and MTV fans, but also musicians and industry insiders alike, most importantly, the Rolling Stones themselves. In their time on the road with the Stones, Vernon and the band made friends with Mick and the others, and ever since, Living Colour, and many members of Living Colour musical family, have recorded and toured with the World’s legendary, and longest enduring, Rock N Roll bands, with the band as a whole, and with Mick, Keith, Charlie, and Ron, individually.
Kick Ass Rock N Roll
November 16, 1989 — Parked on the street in Little Havana. Two second row tickets for the Rolling Stones in the Orange Bowl, where the Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami Hurricanes play. Meet at the inflated “Bud” can. Passed out under the Visa banner. $300 Leather Jackets, rather than T-Shirts. Coffee-table, hard-cover, photography books, rather than a paper poster or ad-filled program. Entering the stadium, and looking down toward the mammoth stage in the opposite end zone, we saw Living Colour in the middle of “Cult of Personality,” the last tune in their set. Chuck Leavell, wish it was Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Yes, but it was Chuck taking a solo in
After Vivid and The Steel Wheels Tour, it might have been understood if Vernon took his well deserved, artistic time in making a second Living Colour album. Especially significant, given how hard an act Vivid was going to be to follow.
Time’s Up, Living Colour’s second album, was mostly written and being edited while the band was on the road with the Stones. Its being released so soon after Vivid and the Steel Wheels Tour, and receiving more critical admiration, did much to improve Living Colour’s already good reputation. After making their presence so well known, Vernon and the band continued to prove its worth and staking its claim in MTV’s visual in n the visually aware, MTV World of music.
When Guitar World magazine featured Vernon on its January 1991 cover, Living Colour was preparing for Perry Farrell’s Inaugural Lollapalooza Tour, originally meant to be Jane’s Addiction’s farewell.
All this adding to Living Colour’s already well-earned reputation, as a socially conscious, virtuosic band, that consistently proves itself one of the finest live bands in Rock N Roll.
“Love & Happiness”
b/ Living Colour Biscuits (1991)
((( LISTEN )))
— End Of The Beginning
Before embarking on a future voyage, Living Colour made the good habit of leaving a collection of live and unreleased recordings for the memories.
1991 — Biscuits is a collection of energetic live recordings and previously unreleased outtakes and B-sides recorded between 1989 and 1991, the Muzz Skillings years.
1992 — In the middle of Living Colour’s first World Tour, Muzz Skillings, unhappy with life on the road, decides to leave the band. Scheduled to leave for Brazil in less than two weeks, Vernon called his old (Downtown New York) friend Doug Wimbish who he knew was available, and was musically able to step in so immediately.
1993 — Stain is Living Colour’s first album after Doug Wimbish joined the band, and the last before the band dissolved (1994) and reunited (2001).
— Living Colour’s Epic Launch
Back In Black
Many, especially critics and industry professionals, argued that Living Colour’s third record, Stain, marked another exploratory change in the band, that from the beginning has been known for playing on the edge of its own making.
1993 — Stone Free: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix (“Crosstown Traffic”)
1993 — Judgement Night (“Me, Myself, And My Microphone”) w/ Run DMC
1994 — True Lies Soundtrack (“Sunshine Of Your Love”)
1994 — (No) Dread
— Living Colour
post-epic documentary recordings
1995 — Pride
Back On Earth
1990 — While touring North America with the Stones, Living continued to work on Time’s Up, their second album, and even before getting the call from Mick to join the Steel Wheels Tour, were anxious to finish and deliver the record to fans, critics, and the industry, that had all responded so well to their platinum-selling debut, Vivid.
Time’s Up quickly goes gold, and like a rocket’s second stage, accelerating Living Colour’s meteoric rise. The record received its second Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy Award, following “Cult Of Personality,” and was recognized as “Best New Band” at the 1989 MTV Music Video Awards.
Onstage, where the band always shines brightest, Living Colour followed it’s “Steel Wheels” run, with a spot on Perry Farrell’s (Jane’s Addiction) Inaugural Lollapalooza.
Hail! Hail! Rock N Roll (1987)
Storm Is Rising
It was a volatile time (1988) when Vernon Reid and Living Colour, entered the Rock N Roll fray. The 1980s had opened the door wide, and storming through it was a growing Punk, faster and faster metal, and a more angry and guttal Thrash. All shots across the popular music bow.
1988 — A Vivid Good Year
Mick Jagger knows a good band when he sees one.
Like some sort of Rock N Roll God, Mick Jagger, in 1988, anointed a new generation of musicians talented and eclectic enough to remind us that there was more to Rock N Roll than anger, volume, and speed.
A Second Coming
The Rock N Roll Gospel According to Mick Jagger.
Appetite For Destruction b/ Guns N’ Roses (1987)
Surfing With The Alien b/ Joe Satriani (1988)
Not of this Earth (1986)“Rocket Queen”
Vivid b/ Living Colour (1988)
Time’s Up b/ Living Colour (1990)
MTV (Music Video Awards)
SNL (“Cult of Personality”)
Best Hard Rock Performance (twice)
1988 — Vivid “Cult Of Personality”
1990 — Time’s Up
International Music Awards (1989)
“Johnny B. Goode” (video)
Tiny Elvis Statues / Eric Clapton “E.C. Was Here”
Why Not A Chuck Berry?
“Elvis Is Dead”
Jethro Tull vs. Metallica
Steel Wheels (1989)
International Rock Awards (1989)
Tiny E Statues / Eric Clapton
(EC Was Here)
Johnny B. Goode (video)
Tiny Elvis? Could have been a Little Jimi.
Stone Free: Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (1993)
Home Again Naturally
Eye & I
All Noisy On The Eastern Front
Bad Brains (1982)
Public Enemy (1985)
The Notorius B.I.G. (1993)
How The West Was Won
The RAP On LA
Back To The Beach
Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello
Dick Dale / Stevie Ray Vaughan SRV
Gary Hoey / Kennedy (“Cool” Right Wingers) MTV
ENDLESS SUMMER II / SURFERS: THE MOVIE
Beverly Hills Cop
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
David Lee Roth
Guns N Roses
Decline Of The Western Civilization
YO MTV RAPS
Do The Right Thing
— The Sunset Strip
The Decline Of Western Civilization
Big hair, tattoos, Harley Davidsons, and GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS.
Sunset Strip (2000) Trailer
• WHEN METAL RULED THE WORLD
• ’80S HEAVY METAL (IN THE ’80s)
• THE COMEDY STORE
Van Halen (1974)
Agent Orange (1979)
Motle Crue (1981)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (1983)
“Party At Ground Zero”
Guns N’ Roses (1985)
Suicidal Tendencies (1990)
Lights, Camera, Revolution
Rage Against The Machine (1991)
Summer of Love (PBS American Experience)
• MONTEREY POP (40th)
Quicksilver Messenger Service
It’s A Beautiful Day
The Doobie Brothers
Bay City Thrash
Faith No More (1988)
Tupac Shakur (1993)
San Francisco Flowers Turned to Metal, and a thing called Grunge was on the horizon.
The 1980s were over. Hip Hop had taken root, Metal and Thrash was lurking in wait. A dangerous Storm Was Rising in the never-satisfied World of Rock N Roll.
Metal had emerged when Rock N Roll was hard and heavy, more than angry and sharp . Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath had dominated ’70s Rock with passion, virtuosity, and theatrics. The 80s saw Metal turn to Thrash, spandex turn to black denim, skulls and chains, and a general decline in Los Angeles civilization.
Nothing against any one genre, but not all Rock N Roll fans liked the idea of a World where Death Metal is considered Pop.
• Kill ‘Em All (1983)
• Ride the Lightning (1984)
• Master of Puppets (1986)
• And Justice for All (1988)
• Metallica (1991) The Black Album
Love & Happiness
b/ Living Colour
Vernon struck hard and fast, with a Vivid opening riff that was one of those Beethoven’s Fifth “simple,” at the same time being immediately “timeless.”
1990 — The incarnation of Living Colour (Corey Glover, Muzz Skillings, Will Calhoun, and Vernon Reid) recorded two albums, Vivid in 1988, and Time’s Up in 1990. Called “more experimental,” Time’s Up exhibited a number of musical styles [jazz, fusion, punk, blues, hip hop, funk, thrash, metal, jive, electronica] w/ guests, including Little Richard, Maceo Parker, Queen Latifah, and Doug E. Fresh
An excerpt out of Time Tunnel, an out-of-print Living Colour documentary, including performance clips and interviews with Vernon Reid, Corey Glover, Will Calhoun, and Muzz Skillings, telling the story of the band from its inception, to the success of Vivid, touring with the Rolling Stones, and starting work on Time’s Up.
— video (“Time Tunnel”)
1991 — Of note was Perry Farrell inviting Living Colour to join Jane’s Addiction on the inaugural Lollapalooza Festival Tour, originally scheduled to be Jane’s Addiction’s farewell. That first year’s lineup also featured: Siouxsie & The Banshees, Nine Inch Nails, Fishbone, Ice T & Body Count, Butthole Surfers, Rollins Band, EBN, and Violent Femmes. Living Colour also released Biscuits, an EP of outtakes, and on the Japanese pressing, a number of live performances, including “Love & Happiness.”
After a month touring Europe, enjoying time back home in New York City, a travel-weary Muzz Skillings chose not to continue on to Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro. Fortunately, the timing was right for Vernon to ask old friend Doug Wimbish if he might consider filling in for Muzz, helping Living Colour to finish its first world tour. Tack>>Head, Doug’s band (with Original Sugar Hill Rhythm Section mates Skip McDonald and Keith Leblanc, with Bernard Fowler and On-U Sound’s Adrian Sherwood) was taking a break after releasing it’s second record, Strange Things, allowing Doug to join Living Colour in South America.
1993 — After completing the South American leg of Living Colour’s 1991 world tour, bassist Doug Wimbish accepted the band’s invitation to join the band permanently.
Doug’s contribution, as a writer, player, and producer, are significant in what critics called the “darker” tone of Living Colour’s third album, Stain.
Because Stain came at a time (March 2, 1993) when Seattle, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and a new genre called “Grunge” were commanding most popular attention, it was overlooked compared to Living Colour’s first two albums, Vivid and Time’s Up. Despite praise from critics and fans, both who appreciated the record’s harder, industrial edge, Stain reached only #26 on the Billboard chart, and because a guy named Jon Stainbrook with a band called The Stain filed a lawsuit and had production of Stain stopped. The record remained out of print until 2013, when it was released on disc, and made available to download.
b/ Living Colour
“Bi” Not the usual for a Hard Rock band.
1993 — While working on a record to follow Stain, a disappointed Reid decided Living Colour should take a break.
In the meantime, Living Colour’s 1993 looked, on television, like things couldn’t be better. They had already written and recorded a number tunes for a new record, won another Grammy Award for a cover of “Crosstown Traffic” on Stone Free, a Jimi Hendrix tribute record, contributed to two high-profile soundtracks, recording “Sunshine of Your Love” for James Cameron’s True Lies, and write and record “Me, Myself, and My Microphone” with RUN-DMC for Judgement Day.
It was something of an illusion, all the accolades were for efforts already made, Vernon, at that moment, was looking for something different. After he officially ended Living Colour’s decade-long run, he immediately went on to work on a number of solo projects, including a multi-tune collaboration with Public Enemy.
After two Grammy Award-winning efforts in Vivid and Time’s Up, Stain receiving wide-spread critical acclaim, and the production of “No/ Dread,” a fine document of Living Colour performances (electric and unplugged) with Wimbish a permanent member of the band, Vernon was still disappointed in Stain, and decided to call it quits in 1995, immediately after finishing a tour with the D.C. punk band, Bad Brains.
“I want a closet big enough to live in.
a closet big enough for the world to live in.”
1993 — Never reluctant to express their opinions, Living Colour played “Bi” (a song about bisexuality), on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
b/ Living Colour
“Bi” Not the usual for a Hard Rock band.
After Living Colour’s dissolution, each member went on to work on solo projects, reunite with old bandmates, and join other bands, both in the studio and on the road.
Vernon — [Mistaken Identity (1996)]
with Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society
Guitar Oblique with David Torn and Elliott Sharp
Magic Science, Gil Evans’ arrangements of Jimi Hendrix
songs with Medeski, Martin & Wood, and the Gil Evans Orchestra
James “Blood” Ulmer
Free Form Funky Freqs
Global Noize with Jason Miles
Lenny White (Miles Davis)
Corey Glover — [Hymns (1998)
As Reverend Daddy Love, formed a band called Vice with guitarist Mike Ciro /
Sonic Adventure Remix (1998) /
Live at CBGB’s
Live at The Wetlands (1999) /
w/ Jane Getter
Will Calhoun — [Celebrating Elvin Jones (2016) / Life in This World (2015) / Native Lands (2011) / Housework (1995) / Drumwave (1997)] / The Will Calhoun Quintet: Live at the Blue Note (2000) with Bobby Watson (alto saxophone), John Benitez (bass), Orrin Evans (piano), and Terell Stafford (trumpet)] / Head>>Fake (drum/bass) with Doug Wimbish / Jungle Funk with Doug Wimbish and Vinx (vocals/percussion) 1999 / Herb Alpert Colors (1999) with Doug Wimbish / Dhafer Youssef Electric Sufi (2001) with Doug Wimbish …
Doug Wimbish — [CinemaSonics (2008) / Trippy Notes for Bass (2000)] / Cyberpunk Billy Idol (1993) / Don’t Look Back Al Green (1993) / Wandering Spirit Mick Jagger (1993) / Time Machine Joe Satriani (1993) / Never Turn Back (1993), The Wolf That House Built (1994), Slow Fuse (1995) Little Axe / Medusa Annie Lennox / Letters Never Sent (1994), Carly Simon: Live at Grand Central Station (1995) Carly Simon / 12 Hits and a Bump (1996) Mas Feedback (1997) Nicklebag w/Bernard Fowler (1996) / Miracles Bim Sherman (1997) / Ultra Depeche Mode (1997) / Bridges To Babylon Rolling Stones (1997) / Michael Hutchence (1999) / Jungle Funk (1999) with Will Calhoun and Vinx / Herb Alpert Colors (1999) with Will Calhoun / Dhafer Youssef Electric Sufi (2001) with Will Calhoun /
• The Wonderful World Of Living Colour
• Pt.1 — a vivid beginning
• Pt.2 — post-apocalyptic reunion
• Pt.3 — back in the USSR
• “who shot ya?”
• SHADE (Sept. 9, 2017)
• LIVING COLOUR / COVER
• LIVING COLOUR Pt./1 — a vivid beginning
• LIVING COLOUR Pt./2 — post-apocalyptic reunion
• LIVING COLOUR Pt.3 — back in the USSR
• LIVING COLOUR / “who shot ya?”
• LIVING COLOUR / SHADE (Sept. 9, 2017)
— Lollapalooza (1991)
Hot Fun In The Summertime
1991 — After a meteoric rise out of the Manhattan Underground, playing Saturday Night Live and stadiums with the Rolling Stones, Vernon and Living Colour landed back home, in New York City, but took no break. They immediately went into the studio and finished their second album before the end of 1990. When home in New York City, Vernon spent much time downtown, where he started his career, and where he feels most comfortable.