Background Information
A.K.A. Fishbone & Familyhood Nextperience
Origin Los Angeles, California
Genre Alternative Rock
Ska Punk
Punk Rock
Hard Rock
Heavy Metal
Years active 1979-present
Label(s) Columbia
High Times
Sound In Color
Nuttsactor 5
Associated Acts Year of the Dragon
Dirty Walt & The Columbus Sanitation
Trulio Disgracias
Dr. Madd Vibe
The Seedy Arkhestra
Angelo Moore
John Norwood Fisher
Walter A. Kibby III
John Steward
Rocky George
Dre Gipson
John McKnight
Former Members
Philip "Fish" Fisher
Kendall Jones
Chris Dowd
John Bigham
Spacey T
Anthony Brewster
Dion Murdock
Tori Ruffin
Andre´ "PaDre" Holmes
Curtis Storey

Fishbone is an American alternative rock band formed in 1979 in Los Angeles, which plays a fusion of ska, punk rock, funk, and other musical styles. Critics have noted of the band: "Fishbone was one of the most distinctive and eclectic alternative rock bands of the late '80s. With their hyperactive, self-conscious diversity, goofy sense of humor, and sharp social commentary, the group gained a sizable cult following during the late '80s, yet they were never able to earn a mainstream audience."[1]

Fishbone was assembled by John Norwood Fisher (bass, vocals), with his brother Phillip "Fish" Fisher (drums); Angelo Moore, who sometimes uses the stage name "Dr. Madd Vibe" (vocals, saxophones ranging from sopranino to bass, and theremin); Kendall Jones (guitar); "Dirty" Walter A. Kibby III (vocals, trumpet); and Christopher Dowd (keyboards, trombone, vocals).


Early career (1979-1987)Edit

Fishbone got started in 1979 as a "disparate, all-black oddball crew" when the members were in junior high school in South Central Los Angeles.[2] They first gained attention with their live concerts, especially at Madame Wong's, earning a reputation as one of the most diverse bands in the alternative rock pantheon. Their unique stew of different styles was a great influence on several subsequent alternative bands. A single on Columbia Records, "Party at Ground Zero" was their first release,[3] and was followed by a self-titled EP, Fishbone. In 1987, in support of their first full-length album, In Your Face, the band performed "Jamaica Ska" in the Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon 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)Edit

Fishbone was mostly considered to be a ska/reggae band in its early years, but later became more guitar-driven with a focus on rock and soul music.[4] The 1988 album Truth and Soul brought Fishbone wide critical acclaim. With this album, the band also added left-leaning social commentary to their lyrics, covering important topics such as the breakup of families, early 1900s racism, fascism, nuclear war, and oppression in lower income housing projects. The album was highlighted by a hard rock-inspired version of Curtis Mayfield's classic "Freddie's Dead" from the film 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 in the burgeoning alternative music scene. Also that year, Fishbone and Little Richard recorded the Leadbelly song "Rock Island Line" for the tribute album Folkways: A Vision Shared.

The band added former Miles Davis sideman John Bigham[3] on guitar and keyboards in 1989. The 1991 album The Reality of My Surroundings was a critical and commercial success, reaching #49 on the Billboard albums chart.[5] 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 song "Everyday Sunshine" also became a modest hit on radio and MTV.

While the band retained their roots in funk and ska, the 1993 album Give a Monkey a Brain and He'll Swear He's the Center of the Universe it included songs with serious hard rock, punk, and heavy metal elements.[3] At the time of the album's release, the band began to tear apart internally. Just before Fishbone joined the 1993 Lollapalooza tour, guitarist Kendall Jones, reportedly suffering from mental instability, quit the band; John Norwood Fisher tracked him down and after an attempt to help him was charged with kidnapping.[6] A benefit concert to help with Norwood's legal expenses featured Porno for Pyros, Primus, Tool, and Alice in Chains.[3] Fishbone was then dropped by Sony Records. Around this time, Keyboardist Christopher Dowd left Fishbone and recorded with a band including Jeff Buckley under the name Seedy Arkhestra, releasing the album The Puzzle, which included the anti-Fishbone track "Flog Your Dead Horse."

Post-Sony years (1995-2002)Edit

Now a five-piece, Fishbone added more heavy metal and hardcore punk influences to their sound on the 1996 album Chim Chim's Badass Revenge on Rowdy Records. The album did well in the underground music scene, but went largely unnoticed by the general public, peaking at just #158 on the Billboard albums chart.[7] In 1996, the band contributed to the AIDS benefit album Silencio=Muerte: Red Hot + Latin produced by the Red Hot Organization. By 1998, the band lost another founding member, drummer Philip "Fish" Fisher, who was later definitively replaced by John Steward. John Bigham also left the band to pursue his own career, later founding the band The Soul of John Black; Bigham 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 was without a recording contract and earned their keep through constant touring.

Fishbone's maintained their dedicated fan base and achieved another major record deal with Hollywood Records in 2000. They were given the chance to record a new album with several special guests, including Gwen Stefani, George Clinton, Rick James, H.R. of Bad Brains, Donny Osmond, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. The resulting album, 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 five-piece. In 2002, on their own independent record label, they released Live at the Temple Bar and More which contained all brand new original material recorded live 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)Edit

In late 2003 Fishbone lost another founding member when Walter Kibby left the band (he returned in 2010). Tracy Singleton departed as well. Kibby and Singleton later formed the band Year Of The Dragon, releasing the albums A Time To Love Is A Time To Bleed (2006) and Blunt Force Karma (2009). Kibby has also released two albums with his band Dirty Walt & The Columbus Sanitation, To Put It Bluntly (2000) and Still Smokin' (2009). All are available on The IBCT, LLC.

Founding members John Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore, along with drummer John Steward, restarted Fishbone with Rocky George of Suicidal Tendencies and Tori Ruffin of The Time on guitars (though Ruffin left soon thereafter); and Dre Gipson on keyboards. In 2005 John McKnight returned on trombone and guitar. Trumpet players during this period were Andre Holmes, Curtis Storey, Fernando Pullum, and Mervin Campbell. This line-up recorded the first Fishbone studio album in six years, Still Stuck In Your Throat, in April 2007 with producer David Kahne, who worked on the band's early albums. Music videos were recorded for the cover song "Date Rape" by Sublime, and for the song "Let Dem Ho's Fight."

In 2008 and 2009, original members Walter Kibby, Christopher Dowd, and Kendall Jones joined Fishbone on stage on various occasions, most notably for the shoot of the Pepsi "Pass" commercial, which aired in January 2009. In April 2008, Stephan Kraemer directed the shoot of the band's first official live CD/DVD in Bordeaux, France. The DVD Fishbone Live was released on May 10, 2009.

The band was deeply involved in the making of the documentary film, Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone,[8] directed by Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler. The film debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 19, 2010 and currently playing at film festivals around the world.

Film and television appearancesEdit

  • The band is featured in the 1987 movie Back to the Beach, performing a rendition of "Jamaica Ska" with Annette Funicello singing lead vocals.[9]
  • 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)."[10] They supplied an incidental score for the film as well.
  • In the 1988 blaxploitation-spoof I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, members of Fishbone appear on the street as hecklers of Antonio Fargas' character Flyguy, and also as a "back-up band.".
  • Angelo Moore, John Norwood Fisher and John Steward appear in the 2006 film Idlewild as members of the band led by Rooster, the character played by Big Boi of OutKast.[11]
  • In 2007 Fishbone appeared in the David Arquette movie The Tripper.[12]
  • Fishbone shirts were often featured in movies and TV throughout the late 80s and early 90s, mostly as fashion choices by fans who were actors. The characters Freddie and Lena of A Different World wore the shirts (both are fans), as did John Cusack in the film Say Anything.... (In that movie's iconic "boombox scene" Cusack is actually blasting Fishbone from the radio. Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" was added later). In 2010's Hot Tub Time Machine, Cusack pulls out and clearly advertises a black T-shirt with the band's logo out of his character's suitcase. Early episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210 had scenes filmed against a set of lockers that featured a sticker logo in almost every shot. In the Movie Bull Durham, Tim Robbin's character Ebby "Nuke" Laloosh is wearing a Fishbone T-Shirt with his suit while giving his first interview after getting called up to the big leagues.


For a complete list, see List of Fishbone band members.


  • Angelo Moore (1979—) – Vocals, saxophones, theremin, percussion
  • John Norwood Fisher (1979—) – bass, Vocals
  • "Dirty" Walter A. Kibby II (1979–2003, 2010—) – trumpet, vocals
  • John Steward (1999—) – drums
  • John McKnight (1999–2001, 2005—) – keyboards, trombone, guitar, vocals
  • Rocky George (2004—) – guitar
  • Dre Gipson (2004—) – keyboards, vocals


  • 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
  • Anthony Brewster (1997–1998) – keyboards
  • Dion Murdock (1998) - drums
  • Tracey "Spacey T" Singleton (1997–2003) – guitars
  • Tori Ruffin (2003–2006) - guitars
  • Curtis Storey (2005—2007) – trumpet, vocals
  • André "Padre" Holmes (2004–2005, 2007–2008) – trumpet, Vocals, guitar


Studio albumsEdit

Live albumsEdit



Compilation albumsEdit


Year Single Chart Positions
US Hot 100 US Main. Rock US Mod Rock UK[13]
1985 "? (Modern Industry)" - - - -
1985 "Party At Ground Zero" - - - -
1986 "When Problems Arise" - - - -
1988 "Freddie's Dead" - - - -
1989 "Ma and Pa" - - - -
1991 "Fight the Youth" - - - -
1991 "Sunless Saturday" - - 7 -
1991 "Everyday Sunshine" - - 14 60
1993 "Swim" - - - 54
1993 "Unyielding Conditioning" - - - -
1993 "Servitude" - - - -
1996 "Alchoholic" - - - -
2000 "The Suffering" - - - -
2007 "Party With Saddam" - - - -


  1. [1]
  2. The new Rolling Stone album guide
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Funk
  4. The rough guide to rock
  6. Crazy to the 'bone: Fishbone's Norwood Fisher comes face to face with madness
  9. Back to the Beach (1987): Full cast
  10. Tapeheads (1988): Full cast
  11. Idlewild (2006): Full cast
  12. The Tripper (2006): Full cast
  13. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 201. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External linksEdit

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