[ inside ]
[ Vernon ]
And during the few moments we have left …
— Guitar Magazine (January/1991)
The Artist — After opening for the Rolling Stones on their 1989 Steel Wheels Tour, and just releasing a second successful studio second album, Time’s Up, Vernon Reid and his band Living Colour were making a powerful statement in the visually aware, MTV World of Music. As Vernon sat down for the picture to appear on Guitar World magazine’s January 1991 cover, he and Living Colour were preparing to play Perry Farrell’s Inaugural Lollapalooza Tour, originally meant to be a Jane’s Addiction farewell tour.
All this was Vernon and Living Colour living up to the high expectations of a band whose debut was Vivid, immediately recognized for its virtuosity, universally praised for its social consciousness, and often legitimately called a Rock N Roll “MASTERPIECE.”
MUSIC FOR ART’S SAKE
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.
All Noisy On The Eastern Front
Bad Brains (1982)
Public Enemy (1985)
The Notorius B.I.G. (1993)
How The West Was Won
— The Sunset Strip
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)
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.
“Paint It Black” b/ Rolling Stones (1966)
“Black Is Black” b/ Los Bravos (1966)
The White Album b/ The Beatles (1968)
“Back In The U.S.S.R”
b/ Living Colour (2007)
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Tom Petty / Prince @ Hall Of Fame
Back In Black b/ AC-DC (1980)
“Back In Black” b/ Living Colour (2003)
“Happiness Is A Warm Gun” / “Who Shot Ya?”
1988 — Vivid
And Then Came Mick
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.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
According to the Rolling Stones.
Not Of This Earth (1986)
Time’s Up b/ Living Colour (1990)
STEEL WHEELS TOUR (1989)
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 Jimi?
“Elvis Is Dead”
Jethro Tull vs. Metallica
Steel Wheels (1989)
International Music Awards (1989)
Tiny E Statues / Eric Clapton
(EC Was Here)
Johnny B. Goode (video)
Hail! Hail! Rock N Roll (1987)
Tiny Elvis? Should have been a Little Jimi.
Stone Free: Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (1993)
The 2010 Experience Hendrix Tour featured a who’s who of rock and blues artists, and in March, for four shows in Florida and Georgia, Band of Gypsys bassist Billy Cox joined the tour. Other musicians those nights includeed: Joe Satriani, Jonny Lang, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brad Whitford (Aerosmith), Doyle Bramhall II, Ernie Isley, Living Colour, Double Trouble’s Chris Layton.
“It’s a thrill for me to play Jimi’s music for audiences now as it was in the 1960s,” says Cox. “The Experience Hendrix tours have shown how timeless this music really is.” Billy Cox first met Jimi when they were in the 101st Airborne division in the Army, and Hendrix later recruited him for the Band of Gypsys in 1969. He appeared with Hendrix at numerous historical festivals, including Woodstock and the Isle of Wight. Cox is the sole surviving member of both Hendrix’s Experience and Band of Gypsys groups.
Also not to be missed are the hard hitting bass lines of Living Colour’s Doug Wimbish. After this tour, Living Colour will continue touring overseas.
— Seattle Review of “Experience Hendrix”
Staten Island Ferry B&W photography
To Do, Or Not To Do”
“We are not Living Color” T-Shirt
In Living Colour (1990) Sketch Comedy TV
Miami Beach (Italian Designer) Boutique. Will trying on clothes for the
Young couple, gay man, Serbian woman.
$50,000 Black Cocktail Dress at the door.
Surprisingly heavy, as it was made of thousands of smooth, black beads, hand-sewn by the Italian Designer, or one of his talented assistants.
Will with trio, Soundscape Park, w/Miami Orchestra violins and cello, and acrobatic dancers on the New World Symphony Concert Hall’s glass wall. (video) Kim Kumura
At Fairchild Gardens
SOUL TRAIN (1971-1993)
Vinx (Soul Train Dance Mix)
1991 — Downtown Again
Reviewed in the United States on June 15, 2006
Here’s another example of the early ’90’s black rock movement that, for whatever reason, just never got the play or marketing push they needed to get over the top.
And speaking of Vernon Reid… the Sony label spent a lot of time, if not money, searching for the for next Living Colour, after that band’s breakthrough. Along with Eye & I, Sony signed other great black bands like Bad Brains (Rise) and began to promote their existing stable of black ‘rock’ bands like Fishbone (In Your Face, Truth and Soul, The Reality of My Surroundings, etc.). Even though those bands already had rabid, alternative-niche market fans, they weren’t all playing the same type of music, Sony never figured out how to promote them properly, and they seemed to get lost among the labels more mainstream, radio friendly acts. In effect, they weren’t Living Colour clones, and unfortunately, they probably suffered as much as benefited from Living Colour’s popularity. Fishbone and Bad Brains eventually drifted away from the Sony label, and Eye & I just faded out altogether after this one album.
Jane’s Addiction live (1987)
Nothing’s Shocking (1988)
Ritual de lo habitual (1990)
1991 — One of Rolling Stone Magazine’s All-Time “Best 100” Guitarists
— Vernon Reid #66
“Reids rampant eclecticism encompasses everything from heavy metal and punk to funk, R&B and avant-garde jazz.
His anarchic, lightning-fast solos have become a hallmark.”
— Critic Steve Huey
1991 — Eye & I (w/DK Dyson) As far and high as Vernon has flown, he has never completely detached from his Downtown NYC roots.
The Black Album
1988 — Joe Satriani With a little help from Mick.
Back in 1988, Joe Satriani was losing $8,000 a week on his failing tour to promote ‘Surfing With the Alien,’ and it got so bad that he was even considering putting down his guitar and look for a job. That’s when he got some help from a most unlikely benefactor: Mick Jagger
Satriani recalls the dark days during his ‘Surfing With the Alien’ tour, saying, “I was all but done. I was going to scrap the tour and just go figure something else out. Then I got a call about an audition for a Mick Jagger solo tour. I got the job and bam – all of a sudden I went from all but total obscurity into a hyperworld with a red carpet in front of me at all times.”
But while his playing earned him a spot in Jagger’s band, Satriani says the iconic Rolling Stones frontman was also exceedingly kind:
“Not only was he the total rock star I always dreamed he would be, he was also funny, unpredictable, incredibly cool, open, and one of the most generous people I’d ever met … He said to me, ‘My staff is your staff. Use all my resources to help promote your record while we tour. Use this private room for interviews, use these people to help you.’ Then he gave me a big solo spot in the show.
“He was totally selfless and completely excited to help me with my success. I just learned so much and he really allowed me to establish myself as a solo artist.”
These days, Satriani is enjoying his time with supergroup Chickenfoot, although that gig, too, was an unexpectedly nice twist of fate.
“I can plan and dream about certain guys, like, say, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, guys I grew up loving that I would kill to play with,” he said. “Then out of the blue comes something like Chickenfoot, a band I never expected but that I love to death. Who could have predicted that?”
“You can plan, and you have to do that, but you have to keep an open mind because sometimes you wind up playing with people you never thought about – and it becomes a dream gig,” he adds. “That’s what I think about Chickenfoot. We just have so much fun.”
— Living Colour
The branks (headgear) worn by the androgynous model on pictured on the cover of Living Colour’s third studio album, Stain.
A Branks is a device consisting of a headpiece with a flat, iron bit to restrain the tongue, formerly used to punish scolds.
Gary Shandling (1986)
Rodney Dangerfield (1981)
Robin Williams (1982)
The Smothers Brothers (1985)
Billy Crystal (1986)
Jay Leno (1987)
 — Bill Hicks, nearly homeless, is invited to be part of Rodney Dangerfield’s Young Comedians special. (Also, Sam Kinison and Roseanne Barr)
Sane Man (video) b/ Bill Hicks (1989)
Dangerous b/ Bill Hicks (1990)
Relentless b/ Bill Hicks (1992)
Rage Against The Machine
Tool — 1993 Lollapalooza (Bill opens for Tool)
Faith No More
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Miles w/ Prince
“The World Would Have To End Without Willie”
Late Shift (1991)
 — The Decline of Western Civilization The story of the Los Angeles punk rock scene (1979/1980), directed by Penelope Spheeris. After the movie’s premiere (1981), Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates wrote a letter demanding the film not be shown again in Los Angeles.
 — The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years covers the Los Angeles heavy metal scene of 1987–1988.
 — The Decline of Western Civilization III (1998), chronicles the gutter punk lifestyle of homeless teenagers in the late 1990s. The film features a mix of live concert footage and interviews with established heavy metal performers such as
Several unsigned club bands are also prominently featured, such as Odin and Seduce.
 — Living Colour was still surfing the monster wave of MTV momentum, as the band rode into the new decade. Without pause, Vernon continued, sustaining the energy in what had been one of the most explosive launches of a band into Rock N Roll History.
Hard Rock vs. Metal, Thrash, Hardcore (cute blonde girlfriend)
Living Colour guitar tech’s, 20-something girlfriend.
(not to judge, but just wondering) Is this your kind of music?
“yes. it is,” said with the cutest smile.
Queensrÿche (EP), such and such ryche, getting together’
“yes. The Third Reich
Mick Jagger heard word of a young “rock n roll” band making a lot of new noise, after hours, in the darker Underground of downtown New York City.
When Mick saw Living Colour and met Vernon, he was happy to realize what he heard was true, Living Colour was better than expected, and after meeting Vernon, Mick offered to help, anyway he could.
Four months later, and with encouragement from Mick, Epic Records offered Living Colour a deal he help, The Rolling Stones were looking for young blood to open their long anticipated, Steel Wheels World Tour. Manhattan the band, downtown took them on the road (Steel Wheels), and helped them with Vivid, Living Colour’s debut was featured on the cover of Guitar Magazine, his band, Living Colour, had just released Time’s Up, its second album, Time’s Up, and they had just accepted old friend, Perry Farrell’s (Jane’s Addiction) invitation to join his Inaugural Lollapalooza, Summer Tour.
b/ Living Colour Time’s Up (1990)
— Living Colour’s Epic Launch
A Band Grows In Brooklyn …
 — After a meteoric rise out of the Manhattan Underground, playing stadiums with his new friend Mick, and the rest of the Stones, Vernon and Living Colour were flying high, and landing back home, in New York City, did nothing to keep Living Colour on the ground.
They were anxious to finish Time’s Up, their second album, the work already in progress, since before the release of Vivid, Living Colour’s debut masterpiece.
Back In Black
Many, especially critics and industry professionals, argued that Living Colour’s third record, Stain marked another exploratory change in a band, from the beginning, known for playing on the edge of its own making.
 — “Funkanova”
• Wood Brass & Steel
• Studio 54
Wood Brass & Steel, a dance/funk band (Hartford, Connecticut) was signed with Turbo Records, one of a number of such small record “businesses” under the control of Joe Robinson and his wife, Sylvia. The Robinsons tapped Wood Brass & Steel’s rhythm section to serve as the house band for the Robinsons’ new label the called Sugar Hill Records.
 — Vernon Reid.
As a member of Ronald Shannon Jackson and The Decoding Society, and also, later, playing and recording with DEFUNKT, and EYE & I, popular bands in the dark, underground of downtown Manhattan. While above ground, and Uptown in The Bronx and Harlem, B-Boys (DJs, MCs, Graffiti Writers, and Break Dancers were plugging into parks and abandoned buildings, and were , and using the power to MC parties behind the unlocked, chain-link fence.
Unerground, Ronald Shannon Jackson, The Knitting Factory, Defunkt, Eye & I, Screaming Headless Torsos, Graffiti Cemetery, and reaching up to the Hip Hop (above ground) urban world. Harlem World, The Original Sugar Hill Rhythm Section. Sugar Hill Records House Band.
Vernon’s earned an early reputation as one of the young, hot-shit guitar players in the Avant-Funk/Outside-Jazz scene, one could see way DOWNTOWN, on the Island of Manhattan. It was there and then Vernon was inspired to step out on his own and form a number of bands, all of which he called Living Colour.
• Basquiat• Andy Warhol
• The Roxy
— photograph b/ dave. (OriginalNoise.Org)
Learning to skate (cross over) Step to the beat, don’t snuffle. The Roxy (Roller Rink by Day) Niip Hop nightclub. Bernard Fowler, Beat Street Preacher.
• Six Degrees Of Separation
• Paradise Garage
Paradise Garage (doc.) Video
• David Mancuso / The Loft
b/ Melle Mel (Not) Grandmaster Flash
b/ Melle Mel & The Furious Five (1983)
“White Lines” (video) w/ Spike Lee, Lawrence Fishburne
A warning of the dangers of cocaine.
Melle Mel One of his signature tracks.
Sugar Hill house band (
f/ Doug Wimbish
by Liquid Liquid (New York City)
“No Sell Out” b/ Keith Leblanc (Malcolm X)
Malcolm X speeches cut to Keith, the drummer’s beats. (1984)
vs. Sugar Hill Records
w/ Betty Shabazz (Malcolm’s widow) “The Queen”
vs. Joe & Sylvia Robinson (Federal Court)
Newark, New Jersey
Across the George Washington Bridge (GW)
“I Was Afraid Of Malcolm” b/ Garland Jeffreys
• Do the Right Thing (1985)
• After Hours (1985)
6 “Up On The Roof” b/ The Drifters
— 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.
“Cult Of Personality”
b/ Living Colour Vivid (1988)
Lollapalooza — Hot Fun In The Summertime. Vernon was looking forward to playing his friend Perry Farrell’s Inaugural Lollapalooza Festival Tour, later that Summer of 1991.
Before sitting down for a lengthy “Guitar” magazine interview, Vernon sat for his cover shoot. Always serious, socially conscious, unquestionably honest, and artistically aware, Vernon took interest in the Living Colour picture Guitar Magazine was painting. The image it would place on its most valuable, visual real estate.
In what he had control over, all the while consulting with the talented photographer, it was decided that Vernon be holding his “Malcolm X” bright pink Hammer(?), with Malcolm’s face, and the words that introduced Living Colour to the MTV World, written in marker, covering the body of the guitar.
“During the few moments we have left …”
 — After Muzz Skillings quit the band in the middle of its first World Tour (1992), between Europe and South America, Vernon’s old, downtown NYC friend, the already legendary bassist Doug Wimbish joined Living Colour on its high-flying adventure.
“Banned In D.C.” b/ Bad Brains (1993)
The Bad Brains Prophecy — Vernon Reid and Living Colour were touring with their friends, Bad Brains, Washington D.C.’s pioneering, African American, Hardcore Punk band, when he unexpectedly (at least to the rest of the band), decided to bring Living Colour’s first voyage to an abrupt end.
— Living Colour (1993)
— The End Of The Beginning
Before we embark on the next voyage into the future, let’s look back.
6 “Love & Happiness” b/ Livng Colour Biscuits (Japan)
— The End Of The Beginning
Before we embark on the next voyage into the future, let’s look back.
• “Dangerous Sex” (video)
• Paradise Garage
• After Hours (movie)
— Little Annie Bandez
Little Annie, a downtown NYC chanteuse, and friend of the Original Sugar Hill Rhythm Section. Downtown neighbors.
• Little Annie Bandez
• “Strange Love” (Levi’s video)
• Max’s Kansas City (nightclub)
• Frank Zappa (“About Annie”)
• The Dakota
• John & Yoko
• Double Fantasy
• Bernard / Earl Slick (“Fame”)
• “Imagine / Two Sides”
Living Colour broke up in 1995 but reformed in 2000. Since then, they have released three more albums: Collideøscope in October 2003 on Sanctuary Records, The Chair in the Doorway in September 2009, and Shade in September 2017 on Megaforce Records.
In addition to his work with Living Colour, Reid has been engaged in a number of other projects. He released Mistaken Identity, his first solo album, in 1996 and has collaborated with the choreographers Bill T. Jones on Still/Here and Donald Byrd on Jazztrain. He performed “Party ‘Til The End of Time” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) with The Roots, an end of the 2000 millennium tribute featuring the music of Prince’s album 1999. He also composed and performed “Bring Your Beats” a children’s program for BAM.
Reid has also undertaken significant work as a record producer, including two Grammy-nominated albums: Papa (1999) by the African vocalist
Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions (2001) by guitarist . Ulmer’s subsequent albums,
Birthright (2005), and
Bad Blood in the City: The Piety Street Sessions (2007), were also produced by Reid.
Guitar Oblique (Knitting Factory)
Reid was also featured in the program presented by BAM and the Experience Music Project in Seattle entitled “Magic Science”, which includes
Medeski Martin & Wood and the
Reid composed the score for the film
Paid in Full, directed by Charles Stone III (well known for creating the “Wasssup!” series of commercials for Budweiser as well as directing three videos for Living Colour) and released by Miramax in the fall of 2002. Reid also composed the score for the celebrated documentary Ghosts of Attica (directed by Brad Lichtenstein), which aired on Court TV in the fall of 2001 and has been featured at several film festivals. He composed the score for another documentary directed by Lichtenstein, Almost Home, which aired in 2006 on the PBS series Independent Lens.
Reid and DJ Logic, calling themselves “Yohimbe Brothers”, released an album in September 2002 entitled Front End Lifter. The Yohimbe Brothers have been touring on and off since the release of the album. Reid was also the music supervisor for the film Mr. 3000, starring Bernie Mac and directed by Charles Stone III; the film was released in September 2004. Vernon’s album with Masque (Leon Gruenbaum – keyboards & Samchillian, Hank Schroy – bass and Marlon Browden – drums), an instrumental album entitled Known Unknown, was released in April 2004, and on 18 April 2006 Vernon Reid and Masque released Other True Self, both on Favored Nations records, owned by another guitarist, Steve Vai.
Reid has a prolific session output in a variety of contexts. He has played live or on record with
Eye & I,
Black Sugar Transmission
(Reid solos on the title track of 2009’s USE IT EP) and
America’s Millennium Gala,
New Year’s Eve 2000
Lincoln Memorial, performing
In March 2007, Reid played with Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and G. Calvin Weston at Tonic in New York and Tritone in Philadelphia, which led them to record as
Free Form Funky Freqs
Urban Mythology Volume 1.
European Tour November.
In July 2008 Vernon Reid assembled a one-off solo band for his appearance at the
with keyboard player Jonathan Crayford, bassist Crete Haami and drummer Magesh Magesh.
At the Puke Ariki “Midnight Session” concert, Vernon performed an all-star jam with
Gilby Clarke and
In 2008 Reid also played a series of Blue Note Club tribute concerts to the Tony Williams Lifetime in Japan with
Cindy Blackman and
In June 2012 the collaboration released a self-titled album
Spectrum Road Palmetto.
Accompanied by a series of dates at large jazz festivals in North America and Europe throughout June and July.
In 2018, Reid signed with Mascot Label Group. He has an album slated for release in 2019.
“An Underground Railroad Of The Mind”
In 2017, Reid debuted his semi-monthly broadcast on the streaming radio station Home. His show, titled “An Underground Railroad of the Mind,” features Reid playing vinyl records from his record collection.
Reid resides in Staten Island with his wife Gabri Christa, a choreographer and filmmaker, and their daughter Idea (born June 30, 2003).
Eddie Van Halen, and
During the early years of Living Colour, Reid used a multi-colored ESP Mirage with EMG pickups, and he was an endorser of the A/DA MP-1 preamp. In later years, Reid has used custom Hamer guitars, and started a relationship with Parker Guitars, who built the DF824VR Vernon Reid signature model based on their Dragonfly design. it has EMG-X pickups in a HSS layout with 5-way switching system, a Floyd Rose vibrato (a first for Parker), and a Roland GK divided pickup. In 2016, he switched to PRS and was working on a signature model with them. The result is the PRS S2 VR Vela.
ESP Released the 86-run limited edition Cult ’86 based on the original used on “Cult of Personality.” 
Mistaken Identity (Sony, 1996)
Known Unknown (Sony, 2004)
Other True Self (2006)
Front End Lifter (2002)
The Tao of Yo (2004)
Obscure and/or unreleased
This Little Room (Sony, 2000)
More Jack than God (2003) Sanctuary
The Gathering (Verve, 1998)
Free Form Funky Freqs
Urban Mythology Volume 1 (2007)
Bon Vivant (2013)
Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society
Barbeque Dog (1983)Antilles,
Montreux Jazz Festival (1983)Knit Classics,
Decode Yourself (1985)Island,
Mitch Winston and the
Band of Natural Selection
- Right Back (2002)