Everyday Sunshine, the story of Fishbone | Fishbone on Facebook
Fishbone | Discography |
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Fishbone is a pioneering alternative rock band that plays a unique fusion of funk, ska, punk rock, reggae, heavy metal, and more. The band was formed in 1979 in the ghettos of South Central, Los Angeles by Angelo Moore, also known as "Dr. Madd Vibe" (vocals, saxophones ranging from sopranino to bass, and theremin); Kendall Jones (guitar); John Norwood Fisher (bass); Philip "Fish" Fisher (drums); "Dirty" Walter A. Kibby II (vocals, trumpet); and Chris Dowd (keyboards, trombone). The group came from the same Los Angeles scene that spawned the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction.
Fishbone first gained attention with their live concerts, earning a reputation as one of the most diverse bands in the alternative rock genre. Their unique stew of different styles, mixed with hectic energy and pounding rhythms, were a huge influence on the funk/rock/metal/rap hybrid that would become popular in the 1990s. The band did not have any official recordings until the release of their self-titled EP, Fishbone, in 1985, which featured the classic ska favorite "Party at Ground Zero". In 1987, in support of their first full-length album, In Your Face, the band ironically performed "Ska, Ska, Ska" (the classic Jamaican ska single specifically written as a breakthrough U.S. pop-charts hit) in the Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon reunion movie Back to the Beach, and toured with the Beastie Boys across the US and other parts of the world.
Though the band had a manic, kinetic sound and stage presence, the group was mainly a ska/reggae band in its early years. But by 1987, the band had turned up the distortion, and heavy metal and hardcore sounds started creeping into their music. 1988's Truth and Soul brought Fishbone wide critical acclaim, and is considered one of alternative rock's greatest albums. A diverse piece of social commentary, Truth and Soul covered important topics such as the breakup of families, early 1900s racism, fascism, nuclear war, and oppression in lower income housing projects. The album was highlighted by a metal version of Curtis Mayfield's classic "Freddie's Dead," from the soundtrack of the movie Superfly. That same year, the group toured with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and became nationally known as a major player in the burgeoning alternative music scene.
In 1990, the band added a seventh member, former Miles Davis music director John Bigham on guitar and keyboards. Fishbone's winning streak continued with The Reality of My Surroundings in 1991, a critical and commercial success. An hour-long mini-epic, The Reality of My Surroundings is widely considered Fishbone's greatest triumph. A psychedelic swirl of manic energy and witty commentary, the album showcased the very different personalities of Fishbone's seven members. One month before the album's release, the group played a memorable performance on Saturday Night Live, with Moore doing a back flip into the camera pit a mere five seconds into their performance of "Sunless Saturday" (a song which later featured an MTV video directed by Spike Lee). The sunny soul number "Everyday Sunshine" also became a modest hit on radio and MTV.
Their sound remained rooted in funk and ska, but focused more on hard rock and heavy metal on 1993's Give a Monkey a Brain and He'll Swear He's the Center of the Universe. With the burgeoning popularity of alternative rock, Fishbone was suddenly gaining popularity in the mainstream, but the band was beginning to tear apart internally.
Just before hitting the road on the 1993 Lollapalooza tour, the band experienced their first personnel loss as guitarist Kendall Jones left the band to join a religious cult. John Norwood Fisher tracked him down and attempted to kidnap him with duct tape and a stun gun, and was arrested and sued over the incident. The band suffered another blow in 1994 when keyboardist Chris Dowd left the band, as he felt the band wasn't the same without Jones. Fishbone was then dropped by Sony Records.
Now a five-piece, Fishbone released the extremely heavy/punkish Chim Chim's Bad Ass Revenge in 1996, which did well in the underground music scene, but went completely unnoticed by the general public. By 1998, the band went through more major personnel changes as founding member/ drummer Philip "Fish" Fisher (Norwood's brother) left the band (to be later definitively replaced by John Steward); John Bigham also left the band to pursue his own career (The Soul of John Black) and was replaced by former Sound Barrier and Mother's Finest guitarist Spacey T. John McKnight (from Ben Harper's Innocent Criminals) joined on keyboards, trombone, and guitar after a short stint by Anthony Brewster. During the latter part of the 1990s, Fishbone earned their keep on the road through constant touring, as they remained one of rock's most respected live bands.
Fishbone's dedicated fan base was, for the most part, happy to travel down whatever musical path the musicians pursued, but the band's record sales dropped consistently after 1991. However, in 2000, the band was signed to a major record deal and given the chance to record a new album with a slew of special guests, such as Gwen Stefani, George Clinton, Rick James, H.R.from Bad Brains, Donny Osmond, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. The result, Fishbone and the Familyhood Nextperience Presents The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx, was a critical success, but saw poor sales. The band was dropped from their label and headed back on the road. John McKnight left the band in 2001, and the group continued on as a 5-piece. In 2002, on their own independent record label, they released Live at the Temple Bar and More (2002 in music) which contained all brand new original material recorded throughout 2001 and 2002. This was later complemented by another live CD/DVD, Live In Amsterdam, containing most of their hits and filmed at the 2002 Cannabis Cup Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
In late 2003, Fishbone suffered another blow with the departure of founding member and trumpeter Walter A. Kibby II, as well as guitarist Spacey T. The two would go on to record one album as Dirty Walt & The Columbus Sanitation. The album was titled To Put It Bluntly and featured guest appearances from current and former members of Fishbone. The two would later help form The Year of the Dragon who would release the album, A Time To Love Is A Time To Bleed in 2006. Kibby was initially replaced by Dre Holmes but would permanently be replaced by Curtis Storey. Spacey T would be replaced by two guitarists - Rocky George of Suicidal Tendencies and Tori Ruffin of The Time. The band once again added a keyboardist, Dre Gipson. Two years later in 2005, John McKnight re-joined the band on trombone, guitar, and keyboards.
In 2005, Fishbone contributed the song Date Rape to the Sublime tribute CD Look at All the Love We Found. for which New Congress Pictures produced their first music video in ten years. The video was directed by Renee Tod and Josh Fischel.
In 2006, four songs from the new lineup of Fishbone - "Sunless Saturday," "Cheyenne Star Forever Moore," "The Suffering," and "Party at Ground Zero" - appeared on the live DVD "Bongidae!," also featuring Slightly Stoopid and Barrington Levy.
- ANGELO MOORE - VOCALS / SAX / THERAMIN
- NORWOOD FISHER - BASS / VOCALS
- JOHN STEWARD - DRUMS
- ROCKY GEORGE - GUITAR
- TORI RUFFIN - GUITAR
- DRE GIPSON - KEYBOARDS
- PASTOR DRE - TRUMPET / VOCALS
- JOHN MCKNIGHT - TROMBONE
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