Dear Guitar Hero: Vernon Reid
How did it feel being ranked No. 66 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 All Time Greatest Guitarists list? —John Tollet
I love my number, because 66 is an iconic number in rock and roll—like Route 66. I love the fact that it’s palindromic—it’s the same forward and backward. The only thing that would have been better is if I’d gotten another six and my number was 666. That’s the ranking that all guitarists want.
Can you describe the New York music scene you were a part of when Living Colour was getting off the ground? Is it true that Mick Jagger discovered the band at CBGB? —Jamie Deats
To say that the scene Living Colour came out of was vibrant, or electrifying, or exciting, or frustrating, is all an understatement. The Eighties that we were a part of was completely off the rails. That was when I saw Blue Cheer play a set at Danceteria, when I saw Nick Cave’s very first show in America, when I experienced the early days of the band Material [led by avantgarde New York bassist Bill Laswell]… staggering stuff. It was an outstanding time period for music and a great thing to be a part of. CBGB was the primary hub of all of this activity, along with the original Ritz on 11th Street and the original Lone Star Café on Fifth and 13th, with the giant iguana on the roof! Plus, the days of the old Pyramid club… that’s what I knew from working with Janet Jackson. It was a crucible, and I was blessed to be a part of it.
Hilly Kristal, who ran CBGB, was as important to the band as Mick Jagger was, and maybe even more so. Without Hilly, Mick never would have seen us. I had auditioned for Mick to play on his solo album Primitive Cool, and he told me he was going to come through and check out my band, and he did. It was wild.
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