Will: There were different versions of Living Colour. When I first met him, he had a version where he was singing lead, like a Police kind of thing. He then had a lineup with Mark Ledford, who I also went to school with and is an incredible musician. Played every damn thing, and has worked with Pat Metheny, J.Lo, Janet Jackson, Prince, Bobby McFerrin, everybody. When Vernon had him in the band, it was a fusion-y kind of thing. I remember he gave me some of the old tapes of what the band used to sound like, and I was very curious about where he was coming from. So I said, 'Where do you want to go with this?' And he said, 'I'm not sure.' (laughs) But there was a definitive idea to go with a rock vibe. It was never not rock, but I think once we started to work on the songs he had already written and started writing them together, that's when "Cult of Personality" came about and "Middle Man" and these other songs. But it was a process.
Muzz Skillings: I went to Jazzmobile Workshop in the city when I was young, so I had the good chance to study under the likes of Jimmy Heath, Jimmy Owens, Victor Gaskin, Barry Harris and Freddie Waits. I also went through a rigorous jazz program at City College, and met Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Ron Carter and John Lewis from the Modern Jazz Quartet. From my sensibilities, just because I was exposed to that stuff and studied it and knew it really well doesn't mean I was interested in injecting it into every situation. Part of it was being that age and viewing it as part of the past, and wanting to get beyond that and using what I learned to express what I wanted to say personally. And by the time I joined Living Colour, the concept of the group had changed entirely.
Doug: I had been offered to play with Jeff Beck through producer Arthur Baker to play on his Flash album. And through that I wound up auditioning to play on Mick Jagger's next solo album, which was Primitive Cool. I got the gig; meanwhile, Vernon and Living Colour were starting to make some noise and caught the ear of Mick. I'll never forget this; Mick had come over to met to chat between takes and said to me, 'Hey Dougie, man, do you know this band Living Colour?' I said, 'Yeah, man!' He asked me what I thought about them and I told him they were great and as a matter of fact, they're playing at CBGB's the next night and suggested he checked them out. They were doing a residency at the time at CB's, because Hilly [Kristal] loved them. So Mick took Jeff Beck and they went to CBGB's to see them play. And then the next day Mick came up to me at rehearsals and says, 'Dougie, I like the band. What do you think I should do?' I told him, 'You're Mick Jagger, man! Take them in the studio and do something on them.'
Muzz: I just remember our manager, Jim Grant, telling us that Mick Jagger was coming to see us that night. Jeff Beck brought him down. I thought it was really, really cool of them to come out to CBGB. At the time, Living Colour had something that wasn't being heard before, and it was exciting this energy the band had generated around us. Even beyond the song and the song structure, there was something going on between the four of us back then where it's like in art when something is created before the vocabulary is there to describe it. And Living Colour had that in terms of what we were doing in the room, and the energy we were producing. People and critics were describing the music in terms that were familiar to them, but make no mistake there was something there that preceded the vocabulary to describe it. So people like Mick Jagger were curious about it, but it wasn't just him. We had Phil Ramone come down, Cyndi Lauper. There was a point when celebrity people in the music business were coming down to see us play. It was mad cool.
Corey: Mick was really, really trying to figure out a new sound at that point for himself. He had Doug Wimbish, who later on became a part of our band and has been one of our friends for a very long time. He had Jeff Beck in the band, who had just come off working with Nile Rodgers on Flash. He was trying to branch out into something else, and he had his ear to the ground. If it wasn't for Doug saying to him, "My friends have a really good band. You should check them out. And if you need a guitarist for any extra solos or anything, talk to my friend Vernon. His band is amazing." So Vernon went to audition with him, and he brought me along. And Jagger came out and talked to us. He was saying, "Yeah, I hear a lot of good stuff about your band. Dougie keeps telling me all about you." So I told him, "Well, we're playing CBGB's this weekend, do you want to come down?" He said, "Maybe I will." And he did, and brought Jeff Beck with him. A week later after seeing us play he said, "Anything I can do for this band, let me know." And he came up with this brilliant idea, because he was working on mixing and recording his album Primitive Cool in New York, and he was going to be there for a couple of days. So he thought why doesn't the band come down to the studio for a couple of days and cut some demos. We did these demos, which were "America" and "Glamour Boys," with Jagger just to help us get a deal. We'd come in at night to work on our songs. We only did two songs because Mick thought two songs would be enough to get people interested, and obviously he was right. He also wound up playing harmonica on "Broken Hearts" later on down the line.
Muzz: But then, that was it for a while. Mick came back to mix Primitive Cool and was then doing promo and press. And it was a VJ at MTV and a writer from Rolling Stone who were interviewing him, and he asked both of them about Living Colour and what was happening with them. So it was the VJ and the writer both suggested that maybe the band could use a rock legend's hand up. It was they who also suggested to Mick that Living Colour was the young new thing, which I also think helped inspire him to produce the two-track demo for us.
Doug: What took place was, Mick had asked his engineer at the time, Ron St. Germain, 'Hey Saint, could you come in over the weekend, I want to cut a couple of demos on Living Colour.' We were in the mixing phase for Primitive Cool, but the studio was still set up for any overdubs and we weren't really using it, so on the weekend it was just empty.