What does Living Colour mean to the Black rock community?

We're a couple of weeks away from the release of the band's fifth studio album.  With over 20 years in the game, the guys who brought the world "Cult of Personality" are in no ways tired, and their amps still go to eleven. 

If you want to share your thoughts on the band, their music, what impact they had on you, etc., please drop them in the comments below.  Drop some jewels and I'll quote you (with attribution) in the piece I'm working on.

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3 Responses to “What does Living Colour mean to the Black rock community?” Subscribe

  1. Cecily September 2, 2009 at 13:07 #

    Living Colour were, for me, the first hugely popular Black rock band I became aware of. I’d known of other Black rockers before them, but they were the one group that seemed to take a real shot at making it to the rarified rock stratosphere, and actually lived there for a little while.

    I used to manage WRAS/Album 88 in Atlanta, GA when I was in college. They were touring to support “Stain” and at that time, we weren’t playing a lot of music that was as heavy as LC. I made an executive decision and added them to our playlist. When the tour reached Atlanta, Will Calhoun, Doug Wimbish and the man, Vernon Reid stopped by stopped by our station to do the only interview they gave in Atlanta (I think).

    As manager of a hugely popular indie rock station, I’d met a lot of artists, a lot of bands. But I was too much of a starstruck fangirl to interview LC, so I handed the interview off to another staffer who wouldn’t be tongue tied. I stood in the back of the studio while the interview took place, with the hugest smile on my face. I think the guys might have been just as happy to see a chubby 20-something black chick running things at WRAS as I was to see them at *my station*. :)

  2. HappyBrownGirl September 2, 2009 at 14:44 #

    I was eleven when I came across Living Colour. They were the first rock tape I ever bought and I was proud to own it as I had bought it at Sam Goody’s with my allowance! It blew my mind to see them and I was immediately fascinated at this vibe they were giving off (in the Cult of Personality video I think I saw on MTV) that I wasn’t regularly exposed to since I was heavily into pop (Debbie Gibson, Michael Jackson, New Edition and…yes, New Kids on the Block). They opened the door for me to explore music further on my own (I was rebelling against all the world, jazz, and soul music my parents were trying to foist on me then, lol) and that meant a lot to me. More importantly though they helped me to SEE and really get that rock music was not owned by white people, was not just for white people as was the line of thinking on the blacktop and monkey bars, so to speak.

    FYI, I had seen and heard of Jimi Hendrix, but for some reason he scared the tween in me. Plus, he was dead and that further creeped me out.

    I was too young to see LC live then, so I am beyond thrilled that I finally will see them on tour this fall in Atlanta.

  3. gorjus December 11, 2009 at 13:22 #

    I was 14 when I first heard Living Colour–of course it was “Cult of Personality,” likely snuck watching forbidden MTV in some basement in Birmingham, Alabama. They were different from the way other bands I liked looked and dressed–they were like neon, not all-black t-shirts and spikes.

    I don’t really remember thinking of them as “black”–there were two “types” of black music for me at the time, Motown and Stax and 50′s pioneers like Little Richard, which was cool and familiar from my folks, and Public Enemy and Ice-T, which scared the crap out of me for unknown reasons (until Anthrax and Body Count taught me better). Run DMC was cool because they hung with Aerosmith. Everybody still liked Prince and Michael Jackson, but they, like Living Colour, seemed to exist outside of the color continuum.

    Vivid was a big hit where I was–just think of dozens of adolescent white suburban kids in Alabama all dubbing “Open Letter(to a Landlord)” onto a dozen mixtapes . . . “Cult” was the hit everybody liked, but “Open Letter” that was the song that proved you were deep and cool (didn’t know until ten minutes ago it was a single–but I’m sure I only learned about it from the video!), and “Middle Man” was for the heavy metal kids.

    I remember being distinctly disappointed with Time’s Up, maybe because it was a little deeper, but I know that for some insane reason I took “Elvis is Dead” personally. I know I didn’t get the politics behind Paul Simon’s stumbling at the time, since Paul Simon sucked outrageously, since he was Paul Simon.

    I’m going to have to go back and revisit a lot of stuff. Most importantly, it’s key to note that it’s not just in the past–that this is a living breathing band still making music, and it doesn’t have to be relegated to yearbook quotes from tenth grade.

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