Mark PradoLiving Colour: Beyond the Cult of Personality

CreateSpace, 2014

by Greg Renoff on June 3, 2014

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Pop Music] The New York-based rock band Living Colour exploded into national consciousness in 1988 after their video for the thunderous “Cult of Personality” went into heavy rotation on MTV. Their album, Vivid, broke into the Billboard Top Ten and sold more than two million copies.  A worldwide tour followed, which included Los Angeles dates opening for the Rolling Stones and Guns and Roses. In subsequent years, the band enjoyed moderate success before breaking up for the first time in 1995.

At first glance, the above account makes Living Colour sound like scores of other hard rock bands who enjoyed a period of broad popularity in the 1980s. But as Mark Prado ably demonstrates in Living Colour: Beyond the Cult of Personality (CreateSpace, 2014), Living Colour was no run of the mill rock act. The band was the first all-black rock group to enjoy massive commercial success since Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys. The members of Living Colour were also fiercely political and spoke out regularly about issues of race and power in American life, which as Mark and I discuss, may have blunted the band’s commercial success.

Mark Prado is an award-winning reporter for the Marin Independent-Journal. He attended his first Living Colour concert in 1989 and has documented the band ever since. Readers can contact him at markprado2323@yahoo.com.

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