T-Shirt Confidential #6

Some people believe you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. I believe you can tell more about a person by the t-shirts they have worn. This is the story of my life, as told by the t-shirts I have worn.

Fishbone is one of the greatest bands of all time. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact. Now, I know some people would argue that determining the greatest bands of all time is something that’s totally subjective, and that what one person finds to be musical genius another person might find to be crap. And while I agree with that, it doesn’t change the fact that Fishbone is one of the greatest bands of all time.

I was first introduced to Fishbone back in 1987 when I saw them live, playing the middle set in between Murphy’s Law and the Beastie Boys. Although the Beastie Boys were the headliners, and Murphy’s Law put on a great show, it was the insane group of black men from Los Angeles that played the theme to Fat Albert as part of their set who dominated the show. I was instantly converted, but it would take a while for me to truly appreciated Fishbone.

In 1988, Fishbone released their second full-length album, Truth and Soul. The only words to describe Truth and Soul are “fucking” and “brilliant”—there is not one bad song on the entire album. Thirty years later it still stands up as one of the greatest albums of all time, as well as one of the most poignant musical explorations of the black experience in America. In terms of social and political relevance, it ranks up there with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On? and Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

Most of these shirts date back to the early 1990s, around the time Fishbone released The Reality of My Surroundings, which contained several songs as genius as anything on Truth and Soul. At the same time,  that album also suffered from some flaws. As I was going through my shirt collection, I found a total of six different Fishbone shirts (five of which are pictured here). Not only is that the most shirts I have for any musical act, I don’t even know if I have a combined total of that many shirts from other bands, period. I also have a hoodie, which I just recently purchased.

With the exception of local bands, there is no musical act I have seen more than Fishbone. My guess puts the number of attended shows at close to twenty, in three different states. Over the years I have had the opportunity to get to know several members of the group, and back in 1997, I was briefly talking to bass player Norwood Fisher about doing music for my blaxploitation documentary. At Lollapalooza one year I was hanging out with frontman Angelo Moore, when two white girls walked up to us and began talking about how much they loved our music. It was pretty funny, because they clearly thought I was in Fishbone, when I don’t look like anyone in the group (even back then with a head full of dreadlocks). After they were done telling me and Angelo how great we were, I said, “I think you ladies are mistaken. Yeah, I’m in Fishbone—my name is Angelo Moore, I’m the singer.” Then I pointed to Angelo and said, “But this guy, he’s Lenny Kravitz.” I don’t know if it was sad or funny that they believed me, but when you consider that I don’t look like Angelo, and he doesn’t look like Lenny, it was pretty damn funny.

Several years ago, I was interviewed for the documentary Everyday Sunshine, but my interview didn’t make the final cut. Oh well.

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