Pensacola, Florida
Monday August 20th 2018

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We Have a Bone to Pick With You

By Kate Peterson

A Fishbone, that is. Formed many years ago, Fishbone is still going strong with endless energy and an incredibly loyal fan base. Their music sounds like the title of one of their songs, “Party at Ground Zero,” fast beats, horns, characters, dancing, ska, reggae and punk all mixed in.

IN spoke to John Norwood Fisher, bass, vocalist and founding member. We caught up with him as he was about to join his daughter for a bike ride on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. Oh, and he was ordering a part for his late model Mercedes. At first, I thought he was ordering a sandwich called a 1988 Mercedes Benz—quirky California cuisine? Then I asked what he was really doing, Fisher said, “No, I am ordering a car part on my way to meet my daughter.” Musicians as famous as he is are normal folk, after all.

Like many others, Fisher got his start in music, and was inspired to become a musician, by the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Bands like the Beatles, Sly and the Family Stone, the Ohio Players and Funkadelic—just to name a few.

Another source of inspiration was the television shows of the time. Shows such as “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” and “The Midnight Special” exposed Fisher and his brother, fellow band member, Phillip Fisher to the music they loved. The TV shows also showed them what performing could be like.

Going from playing in your room or for family, to playing for an audience, is a gigantic leap.

“My younger bro was the original drummer,” Fisher said. “In our minds, we were already a band, waiting for people to come around. My partner in crime was my mom; she bought us a snare drum. When you have people supporting your dream, you take it to the next level, performing for others. So, we did. We breathed life into our vision.”

Fisher asked for a guitar for his birthday. He got one and from there began learning to play.

“There was no one around to explain chords or tuning,” he said, “so I picked out the baselines. I was not playing it right, I am sure.”

When Fisher was eight, he got a weightlifting set for Christmas. According to Fisher, that same Christmas when his cousin, Bud came over, he said to Fisher, “You are never going to do anything with that weight lifting set you just got, how about you trade me for a bass guitar and an amp?”

“I thought about it for a bit,” Fisher recalled. “Then, when he threw in his rock record collection [his cousin had moved on to fusion], it was a deal I could not pass up—we traded. A couple of Thanksgivings ago, we all had dinner at my cousin’s house and my cousin said, ‘You did a lot of good with that bass’—he gave me my life.”

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