Sometimes referred to as an updated version of Mother's Finest, the Dan Reed Network were one of a handful of groups (Living Colour, Follow for Now, Fishbone) that challenged rock's racial stereotypes during the late '80s and early '90s. Multiracial but less political and with a more feel-good AOR bent than its peers, the Pacific Northwest quintet skirted stardom on a few occasions before disbanding. Founding member and frontman/guitarist Dan Reed met drummer Dan Pred while in high school in South Dakota in 1979, and the pair formed a short-lived band called Nightwing. After graduation, Reed moved to Portland, where he joined the group Nimble Darts, while Pred departed for Los Angeles and enrolled in the Percussion Institute of Technology. When Nimble Darts broke up in 1984, Reed began assembling the group that would become the Dan Reed Network: Pred, who had moved north after finishing school; guitarist Brion James; bassist Melvin Brannon; and keyboardist Jeff Siri.
Playing Prince-ly dance music with an occasionally metallic twist, the group began generating a buzz throughout the Northwest and released a self-financed EP, Breathless, in 1986. After replacing Siri with former Quarterflash member Rick DiGiallonardo, the group settled on Blake Sakamoto of Dear Mr. President to fill the keyboard chair. In 1987, the group was signed to Mercury/Polygram after a label exec saw a show in Seattle, and the Dan Reed Network began recording a self-titled debut album with producer Bruce Fairbairn, fresh off hitmaking work with Bon Jovi and the revived Aerosmith. The first single, "Ritual," became a Top 40 hit in the U.S. in 1988 and the group toured at home and abroad, opening for such diverse acts as UB40, Run-D.M.C., and the Jets. The following year, the Network released a second album, Slam; produced by Nile Rodgers, it drew critical raves for its refinement of their rock-funk fusion, but didn't generate a hit single. Still, the band was increasingly popular in Europe, where it opened some shows on the Rolling Stones' 1990 Steel Wheels tour. Fairbairn returned to co-produce (with Reed) the Network's third album, The Heat, which was released in 1991 and pursued a more organic, straight-ahead rock sound. A greatest-hits compilation, Mix It Up, followed in 1993 and included a new song, "Stardate 1990," but Reed was interested in pursuing other projects and the group went on extended hiatus.
Reed appeared in other bands, including a New York-based group called Adrenalin Sky, before coming back to Portland and beginning a solo project dubbed G-13 (later, Odyssey). He also did some acting, appearing in the movie ZigZag in 1997. That year also saw the release of Live at Last! Halfway Around the World, a double CD (and accompanying video) of live material from throughout the group's career, assembled by Reed and Pred. Reed also became a club owner, buying the Portland nightclub where his band got its start and renaming it Ohm. Meanwhile, Brannon joined the Edgar Winter Group in 2000 and was joined in the lineup by James the next year. As a solo artist, Reed released the EP Sharp Turn in 2004, An Evening with Dan Reed in 2009, and Coming Up for Air in 2010. ~ Dan LeRoy & Steve Leggett