Design a site like this with
Get started

Bad Brains – Black History Month

Bad Brains are an American rock band formed in Washington, D.C. in 1977. They are widely regarded as among the pioneers of hardcore punk,[1][2][3] though the band’s members have objected to this term to describe their music.[4] They are also an adept reggae band, while later recordings featured elements of other genres like funk,[5] heavy metal,[1] hip hop and soul.[5] Bad Brains are followers of the Rastafari movement.[5]

Originally formed as a jazz fusion ensemble under the name Mind Power,[5] Bad Brains developed a very fast and intense punk rock sound which came to be labeled “hardcore”, and was often played faster and more emphatically than many of their peers. The unique factor of the band’s music was the fact that they played more complex rhythms than other hardcore punk bands, also adapting non-punk style guitar riffs and solos into their songs.

Bad Brains have released nine studio albums. The band broke up and reformed several times over the years, sometimes with different singers or drummers. Since 1994, the definitive lineup of singer H.R. (Human Rights), guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer, and drummer Earl Hudson has reunited, albeit performing sporadically. In 2013 keyboardist Jamie Saft was recruited to play with the band, fulfilling both live and studio roles. Chogyi Lama performed with the group live 2016–17.

The band was first founded in 1976 as a jazz fusion ensemble called Mind Power[5] in the mold of bands such as Chick Corea‘s Return to Forever and John McLaughlin‘s Mahavishnu Orchestra as well as R&B musician Stevie Wonder. In 1977, their friend Sid McCray introduced the band, who were already interested in bands such as Black Sabbath, to punk rock, including the Dickiesthe Dead Boys, and the Sex Pistols. Mind Power became obsessed with punk rock and changed their name to “Bad Brains”,[5] after the Ramones song “Bad Brain.”[5] Despite their burgeoning punk sound, the early Bad Brains, after seeing Bob Marley in concert, also delved deep into reggae music and the Rastafari movement.[6] Sid McCray became their first singer but left in the early days of the group’s hardcore punk era, and guitarist H.R. became the band’s new singer.[7]

The band developed an early reputation in Washington D.C., due in part to the relative novelty of an entirely black band playing punk rock at the time, but also due to their high-energy performances and undeniable talent.[6]

In 1979, Bad Brains found themselves the subject of an unofficial ban among Washington D.C. area clubs and performance venues (later addressed in their song, “Banned in D.C.”). By 1980, the band relocated to New York City, where they would serve as a catalyst for that city’s burgeoning hardcore scene. At first, the Brains stayed with their NYC friends in the bands The Mad and The Stimulators.[6][8] By 1982, Bad Brains were a regular act at famed NYC music venue CBGB.[9] Dr. Know recalled, “We played CB’s every friggin’ night. This whole ‘Sunday matinee’ thing is from us. When we first played, nobody was there. It’s like, ‘Who are these niggers?’ And we’re in their face, killing it. We got a weekend day, and by then a little buzz started happening.”[10]

Their self-titled debut album was released on Neil Cooper‘s ROIR on “cassette only” on February 5, 1982, followed in 1983 by Rock for Light, produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars.

In 1985, Bad Brains’ song “Pay to Cum” was featured in Martin Scorsese‘s film After Hours.

Bad Brains’ music has been described as hardcore punkalternative rock and reggae.[1][2][3][5] Bad Brains have influenced many acts.[36] They were ranked No. 99 on VH1‘s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.[37] On October 18, 2016, Bad Brains were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017[38] but failed to be inducted. They have been eligible since 2008.


Published by amongthefray

News with a historical perspective. Fighting against misinformation, hate, and revisionist history.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: