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Fishbone are an alternative rock band hailing from Los Angeles, California, USA. Forming in 1979, they are known as one of the most influential cult bands in American rock, earning a devoted following with their snappy mix of ska, rock, reggae and funk.
After 25 years of rocking most bands would be tired even if their history had been pretty smooth sailing. Not with Fishbone, they’re a band still as tirelessly inventive as they ever were, still proudly aware of the difference between being silly and being stupid, and in general an absolute gold standard of what rock and roll bands should aspire to be like.
Most of the founding members of the band met on the same school bus regime. Brothers Phillip and John Fisher (drums and bass respectively), Walter Kibby (trumpet), Kendall Jones (guitar) and Chris Dowd (keyboards) would all take the same bus into the San Fernando Valley area where they met Angelo Moore (vocals) who was born there.
Soon after they met they formed Fishbone, and were soon playing the same Los Angeles clubs as the likes of the newly formed Red Hot Chili Peppers were getting some serious buzz. They were signed to Columbia Records in 1983after producer David Kahne saw them play a club show and two years later their self-titled debut E.P came out, along with their debut single “Party at Ground Zero".
1987 saw the release of their first full length album “In Your Face”, and their first major international tour supporting The Beastie Boys, a perfect fit I’m sure you’ll agree. The late 80’s and early 90’s saw the band add hard rock and soul influences into their brand of funk inflected ska and saw their commercial and critical fortunes sky-rocket as a result.
These were first displayed on their second album “Truth and Soul”, which saw them gain an MTV hit with their cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Freddie’s Dead”. They also toured with the Chili Peppers and collaborated with one of the original Rock and rollers, Little Richard. Since then they’ve become one of the unsung heroes of alternative music.
They might not have the sales or cultural impact of Nirvana or the Chili Peppers but they’re still just as if not more fascinating and talented as both of them. They’ve had a tricky time since then, with band members dropping out and dropping back in again but they’ve kept on keeping on ever since they formed. Many artists could and should learn from this band and many music fans would do very well to seek them out as soon as possible.