By Andrew Catania
What would the world of music be like without the eclectic guitar playing of Living Colour’s Vernon Reid? A less inspiring and honest place for sure. This legend has already left a massive mark on music history and continue to do so today!
Born in Britain, but raised in Brooklyn, New York by Caribbean parents with a big penchant for music, literature and art, Vernon Reid was basically raised on all the cultural wonders the world has to offer.
At home, Vernon’s parents played everything from American Motown music like James Brown to leaders of the British Invasion, The Beatles and Dave Clarke Five, and all the way to native Caribbean songs, which infused Vernon with a huge love for music early on. But it wasn’t before he heard the sweet singing sustain of Carlos Santana’s six-string magic that he knew that he just had to learn how to play the guitar.
From there a massive musical journey began, seeing Vernon diving deeper into the world of John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix while attending a jazz workshop at school. This workshop went on and changed his life forever, opening his eyes to how music can do more than just entertain. It can actually influence people, change minds and transform experiences. And that’s exactly what Vernon has been doing ever since through his music. The result being the legendary four-piece and funk-metal pioneers, Living Colour, founded by Vernon in 1984.
Living Colour became the canvas on which Vernon could paint with his multi-colored sonic strokes, creating a cult of diversity where everything was allowed. That’s probably why Living Colour sky-rocketed over night with their debut release “Vivid” containing the smash-hit “Cult of Personality”. Vivid was a melting-pot of everything Vernon knew and loved, which made jumping from hardcore punk riffs to catchy pop melodies, Delta Blues licks and jazzy solos as natural as breathing, and it quickly became the standard of reference within the world of alternative metal.
Living Colour managed to release three albums and receive two Grammy awards before they disbanded in 1995, but that didn’t put a stop to Vernon Reid’s inexhaustible creativity.
After the breakup, Vernon delved into a career as a solo artist and as a record producer for other acts, where the latter resulted in two Grammy nominations. Besides recording solo albums, Vernon also put his wide-ranging guitar skills to good use doing session work for artists at all ends of the musical spectrum like The Roots, Mick Jagger, Public Enemy, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Tracy Chapman and childhood idol, Santana just to mention a few.
In 2000, Vernon Reid and the rest of the Living Colour members reformed and subsequently released two albums in 2003 and 2009, while earning Vernon Reid a spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2004 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Living Colour are tentatively releasing new material this year.
There’s no doubt that Vernon Reid has already solidified his status as a true guitar legend, and time will only see his sonic kaleidoscopic colors shine even stronger.
To keep up with Vernon and Living Colour please visit the official site: livingcolour.com
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