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Bad Brains Biography

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Bad Brains In-depth Biography

By melding punk} with reggae}, Bad Brains} became one of the definitive American hardcore punk} groups of the early '80s. Although the group released only a handful of records during its peak, including the legendary cassette-only debut, Bad Brains}, they developed a dedicated following, many of whom would later form their own hardcore} and alternative} bands. As for Bad Brains} themselves, they continued to record and tour in varying lineups led by guitarist Dr. Know} into the late '90s yet never managed to break out of their cult status.

Dr. Know} (born Gary Miller}), a former jazz fusion} guitarist, formed Bad Brains} in 1979, inspired by both the amateurish rage of the Sex Pistols} and the political reggae} of Bob Marley}. Realizing that the lines between punk} and reggae} were already blurred in the U.K., he set out to replicate that situation in the U.S., and he recruited several similarly minded musicians -- vocalist H.R.} (born Paul D. Hudson}), bassist Darryl Aaron Jenifer}, and drummer Earl Hudson} -- to prove his point. Bad Brains} quickly became one of the most popular punk} bands on the East Coast, particularly in their hometown of Washington, D.C. Their live performances were legendary, but their recordings were difficult to find. Their debut single, "Pay to Cum,"} was pressed in limited numbers, and their 1982 debut album was only issued in cassette form by ROIR}. In addition to the Bad Brains} tape, the group released a handful of other EPs in 1982, finally moving to PVC} for 1983's full-length debut, Rock for Light}, which was produced by Ric Ocasek}.

The handful of indie recordings Bad Brains} left behind, as well as their live shows, made the band legendary in American hardcore}, yet few potential fans could actually hear the band due to poor distribution and erratic touring. The band took three years to deliver the follow-up to Rock for Light}, finally releasing I Against I} on SST} in 1986. In those three years, the group developed more heavy metal} leanings, and the resulting record received mixed reviews. More importantly, it divided the band, with Dr. Know} and Jenifer} wishing to continue to pursue heavy rock}, and H.R.} and Hudson} wanting to devote themselves to reggae}. Over the next three years, the latter pair frequently left the band to make reggae} albums before finally departing in 1989. They were replaced by Israel Joseph-I} (born Dexter Pinto}) and Mackie Jayson}, respectively.

In the wake of the alternative rock} boom of the early '90s, Bad Brains} were finally offered a major-label contract in 1993, releasing Rise} on Epic} later that year. The album bombed and the group was dropped. Maverick Records} offered the group a contract in 1995, provided that the original lineup reunited. They did so and released God of Love} that summer, to mixed reviews and poor sales. H.R.} and Hudson} left the band shortly after the album's release, and the band was dropped by Maverick}. In 1998 the band again reunited and began touring under the name Soul Brains}. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

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