Living Colour Biography
Living Colour is an American rock band from New York City, formed in 1984. Stylistically, the band’s music is a creative fusion influenced by heavy metal, funk, jazz, hip hop, country, exploratative, and alternative rock. Their lyrics range from the personal to the political, in some of the latter cases attacking Eurocentrism and racism in America.
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 the rock anthem “Cult of Personality”, which won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1990. They were also named Best New Artist at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards and won their second Grammy Award for their follow-up album Time’s Up. After disbanding in 1995, Living Colour reunited in late 2000.
English-born guitarist Vernon Reid had formed a number of bands, and after a few years, he formed Living Colour in New York in 1984. Reid assembled a number of bands under the name Vernon Reid’s Living Colour from 1984 to 1986. Reid was well known on the downtown New York jazz scenes because of his tenure in Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society.
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.
Living Colour was ranked No. 70 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Rolling Stone have called the band “funk metal pioneers.”
“Cult of Personality” was part of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas repertoire of radio songs in Radio X. It was also the first song to be confirmed for the track list of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. The version featured in Guitar Hero III is a new master recording of the song that features an updated solo, as the original masters could not be used.
In early 2009, WWE used “Cult of Personality” in the video promoting the induction of Stone Cold Steve Austin into its Hall of Fame. WWE performer CM Punk used the song as his entrance theme in Ring of Honor for a period of time. CM Punk used other licensed music while working with WWE, but, after feigning a departure from the company in July 2011, he returned with “Cult of Personality” as his entrance theme. CM Punk also entered to the song at his debut in the world of mixed martial arts at UFC 203.
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