Vernon Reid was a British musician who moved to New York City and became a member of the local jazz scene. From 1984 to 1986, he formed a series of groups called Vernon Reid’s Living Colour. The group played an evolving version of jazz/funk/punk music depending on who the members of the group were. In 1986, the group settled into a group of four members that remained together as Living Colour for the next six years. The group did some touring and also became regulars at club CBGB.
The group released its first album in 1988. The first single from the album was Cult Of Personality. The video got some airplay on MTV near the end of the year. The group also performed the song on Saturday Night Live in April 1989, and the appearance helped the single reach #13 on the Hot 100 the next month.
The single got its name from Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 anti-Stalin report, “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences”. The song contains clips from speeches by Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The lyrics also mention other political and social leaders, including Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, and Mahatma Gandhi.
The single won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance and the song and the group also won MTV Video Music Awards.
The group changed drummers in 1992 and disbanded in 1995, but reformed in 2000.
Living Colour released five more albums by 2017, but never again approached the success of their first album. The band continues to tour and has its own website at http://www.livingcolour.com.