When I first posted about Chris Dowd, I made it a point not to focus on his physical appearance, but rather dwell on his and Fishbone’s life-changing effects on me. So, I’m rectifying that today… by talking more about Chris Dowd and Fishbone’s life-changing effects on me — but with more pictures!
When I was in junior high, I remember reading this article on Newsweek about a straight white man who was completely obsessed with Prince. It talked about how he was fascinated with Prince’s looks and how he would create many paintings of him. I don’t quite remember the actual details, but what I do remember was me ridiculing this man. I even remembered showing the article to my cousin as we laughed at that “weird ass dude.”
If my cousin could read this blog now…
Point is, I have become that man. I’m not speaking specifically about my intense obsession with “bearish masculinity,” but, rather, with Chris Dowd. I brought up that Prince fanatic because I believe that I share that same type of “disconnected-connection” (a term that I have diagnosed myself with) with a particular human-cum-celebrity.
Fishbone entered my life in the fall of 1988 when I was a freshman in high school. My best friend at the time, who already had the makings of a future stoner with his mod hair and shell necklaces, introduced me to this band that immediately blew me away. I saved up my money and bought the “Truth And Soul” cassette tape at Tower Records. I don’t have it anymore as I had worn it out from overuse.
As Angelo Moore was pretty much the ringleader of this funkmetal band, I was focused on him. However, over time, the soulful voice of Chris Dowd was the one that made me shift my focus. At the time, Chris Dowd was not bearish, nor was he even cubbish. He was very skinny; and when I watched their 80’s interviews and music videos, all I saw was this thin black man who spoke, dressed up, and moved & danced like a white punk rocker — except he was the only punk rocker who had rhythm with his wild and crazy punkness (if that makes any sense at all). His hair even looked like the afro-version of The Cure’s Robert Smith’s hair (my mod best friend’s idol).
Unfortunately, embedding for this video is not allowed so here’s the link:
Here’s a perfect example of what I mean (“When Problems Arise”)
Then something beautiful happened. Chris Dowd got a bit huskier which became apparent in Fishbone’s early 90’s music videos — specifically with videos from, quite possibly the greatest album of all-time, “The Reality Of My Surroundings.”
Believe me, I was the first one to buy “The Reality Of My Surroundings – Past To Present” VHS. I’ve played that hour-long videotape that I had pretty much rendered it useless as well. Thank God for DVD re-releases.
But one of the greatest memories I had was when I finally saw Fishbone live in Hawaii during their concert at Pink’s Garage in early ’92. They were promoting their TROMS album and believe me that I did NOT miss that concert. I was with my girlfriend (yeah, yeah, I know) who was a Metallica freak and she was pretty excited for it too. So she, I, and my mod best friend went to see what will become my greatest religious experience of all-time.
Most of the people in Pink’s Garage were local Hawaiians (as opposed to native Hawaiians) who have been secluded from the world of moshing and mosh pits. We all had an idea as to what a mosh pit was based on seeing it on MTV, but I can safely say that we were the safest mosh pit in the world at that time. You could actually bring your grandma with her walker inside and not leave a scratch on her. An exaggeration, of course.
Needless to say, Fishbone rocked the house down. And when I actually saw Chris Dowd, I nearly fainted. And that is not an exaggeration. He was, well, God, on the stage. He played magic on his keyboard and trombone while he danced and hopped with his patented gospel-like revival moves. His voice commanded your attention and I was deeply mesmerized by his mere presence alone.
My mod best friend was a “bit high” and I missed out on some songs so that I could take care of him. Even with that minor disappointment, all I could think of was that it was the greatest night on earth. I was actually genuinely happy at that very moment. It was pure bliss.
I never got to meet the band afterwards but it did not matter at all. All that mattered was that I saw Fishbone live. And no one could take that away from me.
Unfortunately, Fishbone today does not even have the lineup that I grew up with. There are only two original members: Angelo Moore and John Norwood Fisher. Chris Dowd left the band for unknown reasons. Some sources say that he was booted out, while his “dis track” called Flog Your Dead Horse in his 1997 masterpiece, Puzzle (as “The Seedy Arkhestra”), seems to imply that he had left the group under not-so-good terms…
I thought about posting the lyrics, but it’s filled with so much hate that I don’t want to believe that what Chris was saying was true. That track has literally shattered my mythic illusions on the band’s undying brotherhood. I mean, can this be the same Fishbone who sang about love, peace, and togetherness? The group who sang “Change”? The group who knew the dangers of “Jealousy” and “his friend named envy” in “Those Days Are Gone”? What’s going on here?
However, just like Angelo had ranted on about the evil “Meter Maid,” this was a moment of anger that Chris just had to release from his soul. I mean, love won’t exist without hate, true?
Unbelievably enough, while I was writing this post, someone responded to me from a comment I had made in a Fishbone YouTube video:
bearmythology (1 week ago)
Fishbone is definitely one of those rare bands that needs to be experienced live. I was lucky enough to be part of of their live shows in Hawaii when I was a teenager and it was definitely a euphoric, religious, and therapeutic experience. I wish that all of the original members (dammit, especially Chris Dowd aka The Seedy Arkhestra) would one day get together again and show the world just how it is to jam, kick ass, take names, and make a life-changing difference.
tribebrian (2 days ago)
i was told by tori ruffin(ex-fishbone soldier) that they have been jammin with original members again for some future gigs!..he talks to them alot still!…
HOLY!!!!! Can this be real? The original members of Fishbone? Back together again? Wow. This is great news if it is true indeed.
Mr. Chris Dowd, if for some reason, you have stumbled into this, I have this one plea: Please forgive your differences with the remaining members of Fishbone. I know I am just a lone fan who would never understand the complex dynamics of being in a band for many years nor do I have the right to tell you what to feel. Things happen, I understand, but please realize that you are a major influence and presence in the group. Remember when you guys use to criticize Ronald Reagan? How about getting back together this year and use your group’s combined influence and become a musical force to back Barack Obama. Mr. Dowd, that is my one plea and I’m positively sure that I’m not the only one who thinks this…
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