Living Colour was initially and loosely organized in New York City circa 1984 by guitarist and songwriter Vernon Reid. Reid was a co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition, and already had garnered critical acclaim for his incendiary and imaginative playing with Defunkt, Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society, and a number of ad hoc bands drawn from New York's downtown rock/funk/jazz nexus.
Living Colour's line-up began to solidify in 1985. Vernon encountered vocalist Corey Glover singing "Happy Birthday" at a mutual friend's party; drummer William Calhoun, a Berklee School of Music graduate, met Reid in the Bronx and was quickly recruited for a gig at C.B.G.B. Bassist Muzz Skillings completed the line-up after attending a Black Rock Coalition meeting. Living Colour signed to Epic Records in late 1987, and recorded their debut album Vivid with producer Ed Stasium. (Two tracks--"Glamour Boys" and "Which Way To America?"--were produced by early Living Colour fan Mick Jagger.)
Released in April 1988, Vivid met considerable resistance at commercial radio and MTV. Finally, after the band had undertaken six months of intensive touring, a new clip for "Cult Of Personality" began airing on MTV--and album sales began to escalate in tandem with video rotations. In the end, "Cult Of Personality" collected three trophies at the MTV Awards; rose to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100; and was named Best Hard Rock Performance in the 32nd Annual Grammy Awards. Vivid hung on the Pop Albums chart for 76 weeks, peaking at #6 and was certified double platinum.
The Rolling Stone Readers Poll voted Living Colour the year's Best New American Band. Opening for the Rolling Stones on their 1989 "Steel Wheels" stadium tour seemed to affirm Living Colour's place in the rock mainstream. But the band sharpened its cutting edge when they joined the first Lollapalooza Tour in the summer of 1991.
Living Colour's 1990 album Time's Up, again produced by Ed Stasium, marched up the Billboard chart to #13. The album, which included such crucial tracks as "Type" and the caustic "Elvis Is Dead" (featuring a recitation by Little Richard himself), led to Rolling Stone's Critics Poll awards for Living Colour as Best Band; for Vernon Reid as Best Guitarist, and for Will Calhoun as Best Drummer. Time's Up earned Living Colour its second Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in ceremonies held February 20, 1991.
That same year, the band released the six-track Biscuits EP, a mixture of live and studio recordings that included Living Colour's renditions of songs by Jimi Hendrix ("Burning Of The Midnight Lamp"), Al Green ("Love And Happiness"), and James Brown (""Talkin' Loud And Saying Nothing").
At the end of the year, bassist Muzz Skillings departed the ranks, but Living Colour found an ideal and integral new member in Doug Wimbish, whose session and stage credits ranged from Jeff Beck to George Clinton. Doug joined the band in time for January, 1992 dates in Brazil and became a permanent member in June. In July, the new line-up played "live rehearsals" for their new album at C.B.G.B. and Wetlands in New York City.
Living Colour's third Epic album, Stain, produced by Ron St. Germain, was issued in February, 1993. "Stain continues to uphold Living Colour's status as musical visionaries," proclaimed Musician, and Request wrote: "Stain is a fluid, grooving compact album by a unique, always-growing band."
Living Colour came to an end in January, 1995, a few months after their final recording sessions in London with producers Adrian Sherwood and Skip McDonald. Vernon Reid announced the break-up in a statement to the press, explaining: "I have not made this decision overnight. I've been struggling with it—and searching my soul--for well over a year. . . finally, it became obvious that I had to give up the band."
After getting together in December of 2000 and playing an unadvertised, unannounced, yet jam-packed show at CBGB’s Vernon, Will, Corey & Doug realized that what they have together is special, powerful and influential. They have decided to get together to play, write and tour together. Music is better off for their return