Perry Farrell Biography
Perry Farrell is quite simply, one of the most important and original musical figures of the '90s. Born Perry Bernstein in New York City on March 29, 1959, Perry moved with his family to Miami, FL as a youngster, and eventually wound up in Los Angeles, CA, where he discovered the liberating punk rock movement. By the early-80's goth-rock was sweeping across L.A. - as a result, Perry changed his name to Perry Farrell ('peripheral') and formed the goth-alternative band, Psi Com. While the group was an important musical stepping stone for Perry (his trademark heavily effected vocal style, ethereal music, etc.), the band eventually fell apart before they could sign to a major label. Years later, in 1994, Triple X Records would issue a self-titled, 5-track Psi Com compilation. Undettered, Farrell put together what would become one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Jane's Addiction. He hooked up with a pair of young metalheads, drummer Stephen Perkins and guitarist Dave Navarro, plus alternative fan Eric Avery on bass. The quartet was harder rocking than Farrell's previous outfit, and injected their rock with unpredictability -unafraid to touch upon other non-rock musical styles and making great use of dynamics. The band was also different in that it was against the testosterone-heavy image of other rockers at the time, the bandmembers would often kiss each other on stage and Farrell would sometimes dress in drag. All of the hoopla paid off for the band as they became an instant favorite on the L.A. club scene, issuing their self-titled debut on Triple X in 1987. Like it's music, the band's audience was varied - metalheads, punkers, and goths all worshipped them. A huge bidding war ensued, with Warner Bros. eventually signing the up-and-coming band. Although Jane's Addiction would only be together for 2 more albums, 1988's Nothing's Shocking and 1990's Ritual De Lo Habitual (both platinum-certified), they were a major reason for alternative rock's eventual mainstream acceptance and success. Both albums are widely considered classics, proving to be incredibly influential on the 90's alt-rock scene. Eventually, drug-fueled bickering helped break up the group, but not before they would headline the inaugural Lollapalooza tour in 1991 (Farrell was the founder of the eventual annual tour). Perry also tried his hand at filmmaking around this time, with the hard-to-decipher Gift. Perry went straight into his next project, Porno For Pyros, which included ex-Jane's drummer Perkins, as well as guitarist Peter DiStefano and bassist Martyn LeNoble. While the new outfit contained some of the same musical trademarks as J.A., it proved to be not as musically adventurous or
abstract. A pair of underrated albums were issued, 1993's self-titled debut and 96's Good God's Urge, and while the band was a popular concert attraction, Farrell split the band up in 1997, shortly after an appearance on the Private Parts soundtrack and a performance at the movie's premier. Later in '97, Farrell did a brief reunion tour with Jane's Addiction (Eric Avery, who refused the invitation, was replaced by The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea on bass), releasing a spotty live/outtakes collection Kettle Whistle the same year. A year later, Farrell became a father and swore off drugs and drink for good - focusing on a new project, dubbed Gobalee. Before the new project could get off the ground, Farrell abruptly abandoned it, concentrating on recording his first solo album (due in 2000, with contributions by Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante). In November of 1999, the retrospective Rev was issued, containing hits and rarities from both Jane' s Addiciton and Porno for Pyros, as well as a pair of solo tracks.
Greg Prato, All Music Guide