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 '80s, 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, five-track Psi Com compilation. Undeterred, 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 its music, the band's audience was varied -- metalheads, punkers, and goths all worshiped 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 two 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 '90s 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's first solo album featured 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 Addiction and Porno for Pyros, as well as a pair of solo tracks. In 2001, Farrell's solo album Song Yet to Be Sung arrived, marking his first new material in five years, as well as a more global, spiritual approach to his music. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi