Guitarist Vernon Reid was the driving force behind Living Colour and formed the group in 1986 with singer Corey Glover, bassist Muzz Skillings and drummer Will Calhoun. The New York group became regulars at CBGBs and soon caught the ear of Mick Jagger, who helped the band get signed (and later had them open for the Stones on the 1989-90 Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tour).
While Living Colour initially gained some notoriety for their skin color, it soon became apparent that they were carving out a divergent musical path that combined hard rock, jazz and funk into a new sound. The result was critically acclaimed, and amazingly found an audience. The group's 1988 debut, Vivid, reached #6 on the charts and produced two top 40 songs -- "Cult of Personality" (#13) and "Glamour Boys (#31). Living Colour also won the MTV VMA for Best New Artist in 1989 (which may have been the kiss of death; see the Michael Penn - No Myth entry for a list of MTV's Best New Artist winners).
Unfortunately, the band's follow up efforts became progressively less successful, and this, combined with disagreements around their musical direction caused Living Colour's 1995 break up. The individual members remained in the industry and re-formed the group in 2000; they continue to record and perform to the present day.
Cool trivia fact: the song contains samples of several famous speakers, most notably Malcolm X in the intro. (JFK and FDR are sampled later in the song).
Cool trivia fact #2: Rolling Stone views Vivid as the 64th greatest album of the 1980's.