Living Colour has retained its prominence as a band comfortable mixing elements of rock, punk and metal since its major label Manhattan debut in 1988.
Living Colour first emerged as the brainchild of Vernon Reid in 1983 and quickly became part of downtown Manhattan's vibrant punk-funk music scene. Reid, a Brooklyn native, was barely out of his teens at the time but had already established himself as a fiery and rising guitar star. By the time Reid began idealizing what Living Colour could be, he had honed his skills playing in avant-funk bands, including Joe Bowie's Defunkt and Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society, and had gained experience playing on the road through tour visits in Europe, Asia and Africa.
The early lineups of Living Colour played instrumental music rife with evidence of Reid's eclectic tastes, broad musical experiences and vivid background. By the time of the band's major label debut with Vivid in 1988, Living Colour had already gone through two rhythm section changes, an early prediction for how accepting the group came to be towards musical genres and playing styles.
In addition to Reid's continued work as the founding member of Living Color, a job that most recently allowed Reid to oversee the release of 2009's The Chair in the Doorway, Reid also helped form the Black Rock Coalition in 1985, a Civil Rights group aimed at combating racism within the music industry. A quarter-century later, the BRC has expanded to include the bands Fishbone and Bad Brains and continues to gain recognition for its Black Rock Orchestra, another brainchild of Reid's that has like Living Colour gained fame and notoriety since its inception in the mid-1980s.