is an alternative rock
band that plays a fusion of ska
, punk rock
, heavy metal
and more. The band was formed in 1979 in the ghettos of South Central Los Angeles
by Angelo Moore
, also known as Madd Vibe"
(vocals, saxophones ranging from sopranino
, 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 Minutemen
, the Red Hot Chili Peppers
and Jane's Addiction
Early career (1979-1987)
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, was a huge influence on the funk/rock/new wave/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 performed "Jamaica Ska" (the classic Jamaican ska single specifically written as a breakthrough U.S. pop-charts hit) in the Annette Funicello
reunion movie Back to the Beach
. Fishbone toured with the Beastie Boys
across the US and other parts of the world.
Rise to fame (1988-1994)
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. A diverse piece of social commentary, Truth and Soul
covered important topics such as the breakup of families, early 1900s racism
, 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 Super Fly
. The music video, directed by Douglas Gayeton, became the band's first hit on MTV. 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, a legacy sealed by live shows that were unrivaled in their fury and intensity. Also that year, Fishbone and Little Richard
recorded the Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter song "Rock Island Line
" for the album Folkways: A Vision Shared-A Tribute To Woody Guthrie And Leadbelly.
In 1989, 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 due to suffering many traumatic events that led to a severe mental breakdown and joined his father's religious cult. John Norwood Fisher tracked him down and attempted to kidnap him. He was arrested and sued over the incident but no charges were filed against Fisher because Jones was considered too insane to stand trial. The band suffered another blow in 1994 when keyboardist Chris Dowd left the band for unknown reasons. Fishbone was then dropped by Sony Records. Dowd recorded with a band including Jeff Buckley under the name "Seedy Arkhestra", releasing the album The Puzzle, which included the incendiary anti-Fishbone track "Flog Your Dead Horse". He has since gone on to attend Peterson's culinary schools, and as a result has been asked to play some solo shows at Foundry On Melrose on account of his instructor from Peterson's (Eric Greenspan) being the head chef.
Post-Sony years (1995-2002)
Now a five-piece, Fishbone released the extremely heavy/punkish Chim Chim's Badass 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 Tracey "Spacey T" Singleton. John McKnight (from Ben Harper
's band) 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 several special guests, such as Gwen Stefani, George Clinton, Rick James, H.R. of Bad Brains, Donny Osmond, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. The result, Fishbone and the Familyhood Nextperience Present: 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) 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.
Recent history (2003-present)
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. Walter Kibby had previously released a solo album with The Columbus Sanitation (featuring many of his current and former Fishbone cohorts including Spacey T). The two would later help form The Year Of The Dragon, releasing the album, A Time To Love Is A Time To Bleed
in 2006. Kibby was initially replaced by Andre (PaDre) Holmes and later by Curtis Storey, after PaDre left for a stint with The Time
on keyboards. Spacey T was replaced by two guitarists - Rocky George
of Suicidal Tendencies
and Tori Ruffin of The Time
, though Ruffin left soon thereafter. The band once again added a keyboardist, Dre Gipson. Two years later in 2005, John McKnight re-joined the band on trombone, guitar.
In 2005, Fishbone contributed the song "Date Rape" to the Sublime tribute CD and DVD 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.
Also that year the band The Girlfriend Experience had been reporting to have played with a new Kendall Jones band calling themselves "The Cause."
2006 saw the return of the collaboration between Fishbone and producer David Kahne (who worked on the band's 80's recordings) for the first studio recording in 6 years, titled Still Stuck In Your Throat released in late 2006 in Europe and April 2007 in the USA. Some of these new songs can be seen on the live DVD Bongidae! also featuring Slightly Stoopid and Barrington Levy.
Angelo Moore (also credited as musical director), John Steward, and John Norwood Fisher appeared as part of the house band in the 2006 Outkast feature film Idlewild.
As of July 2007, trumpeter Curtis Storey has left Fishbone due to a serious illness from which he is currently recovering. PaDre Holmes has once again filled the slot as the band's trumpet player with Fernando Pullum, who previously performed with Fishbone on March 15, 1991, on Saturday Night Live during "Sunless Saturday" filling in some dates during the interim of 2007.
The band is currently involved in filming a documentary, tentatively titled Everyday Sunshine, directed by Lev Anderson and Chris Meztler and shot their first official live DVD In Bordeaux, on April 23rd 2008, produced by Stephan Kraemer. Both are due at the end of 2008.
- Members of Fishbone appear both on the street as hecklers of Antonio Fargas' character Flyguy, and as a "back-up band" in the blaxploitation-spoof I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.
- In 2007 Fishbone appeared in the David Arquette movie The Tripper.
- Fishbone appears in the 1988 John Cusack/Tim Robbins film Tapeheads as "Ranchbone" in the bar scene, playing the song "Slow Bus Movin' (Howard Beach Party)."
- The band is also featured in the 1987 movie Back to the Beach, performing a rendition of "Jamaica Ska" with Annette Funicello singing lead vocals.
- Angelo Moore, John Norwood Fisher and John Steward appear in Idlewild as members of the band led by Rooster, the character played by Big Boi of Outkast.
- Mr. Bungle have noted that their more ska-inflected work of the mid-to-late '80s, as well as the addition of horns, was due to their desire to emulate Fishbone.
- The band's widely-recognized fish circle logo was created by their producer, David Kahne, with MacPaint on an early model Apple Macintosh.
- Angelo Moore can be seen in the video for Sublime's "Wrong Way". He is the man in the suit and barbershop hat that the boy bumps into while running out of the convenience store.
- Fishbone have played in Amsterdam on numerous occasions. They were filmed at the 2003 Cannabis Cup awards.
- Angelo Moore, Walter Kibby, and Chris Dowd provided horns on Murphy's Law's 1989 album Back with a Bong!.
- Angelo Moore and Chris Dowd also provided horns on the Jane's Addiction track "Idiots Rule" (from their 1988 album Nothing's Shocking).
- Angelo Moore can be seen in the video for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones' "Simmer Down", a Bob Marley cover. Fishbone was on tour with the Bosstones at the time the video was filmed in New Orleans.
- For a complete list, see List of Fishbone band members.
- Angelo Moore (1979—) – Vocals, saxophones, theremin, percussion
- Rocky George (2003—) – guitar
- John McKnight (1999–2001, 2005—) – keyboards, trombone, guitar, vocals
- Dre Gipson (2004—) – keyboards, vocals
- Andre´ "Padre" Holmes (2004–2005, 2007-) – trumpet, Vocals, guitar
- John Norwood Fisher (1979—) – bass, Vocals
- John Steward (1999—) – drums
- Kendall Jones (1979–1993) – guitar, vocals
- Chris Dowd (1979–1994) – keyboards, trombone, vocals
- John "JB" Bigham (1989–1997) – guitar, keyboards
- Philip "Fish" Fisher (1979–1998) – drums, vocals
- "Dirty" Walter A. Kibby II (1979–2003) – trumpet, vocals
- Anthony Brewster (1997–1998) – keyboards
- Tracey "Spacey T" Singleton (1997–2003) – guitars
- Tori Ruffin (2003-2006) - guitars
- Curtis Storey (2005—2007) – trumpet, vocals
- Dion Murdock - drums (1998)