Flav was raised in the working class town of Freeport, Long Island, where his dad owned a little restaurant known as the Soul Diner.
At a very young age, Flav demo he was an intelligent but troubled kid. Music came easy to him, and Flav taught himself the best way to play piano, drums and guitar.
But Flav fought keeping himself out of trouble. He got into petty theft, so when a young kid he accidentally burned his family’s house down, the results of playing with lights. From the time Flav, who leave high school in the 11th grade, was well into his teens he’d already strung together several brief jail stints for robbery and burglary.
His life appeared to bounce back when he met Carlton Ridenhour (who afterwards became known as Chuck D). The two immediately bonded over music. Flav, who soon assumed his new moniker in honor of his graffiti tag, joined his buddy on Chuck’s hip hop radio show at Adelphi University, where Chuck studied graphic design.
After Chuck graduated, both ambitious musicians got work delivering furniture in Chuck’s dad’s Uhaul truck. It was an early demo that found its approach to the offices of a fresh label, Def Jam Records, and its own creator, producer Rick Rubin. Rubin enjoyed what he heard, as well as in 1986 Public Enemy inked a deal with him.
In the beginning, the hip-hop group’s sound was unlike another rap that had made its way to the airwaves. They brought a militant focus for their music as well as the group’s character, drawing significant inspiration in the Black Panthers. “You will not see Public Enemy with no 40s and no blunt placing anything in our bodies that’ll be harmful to our existence,” the group’s iron-fisted leader, Chuck D, guaranteed.
Flav played a significant part in the group’s achievement. Next to Chuck’s strong personality, Flav’s onstage persona kept a certain playfulness. Chuck also greatly valued Flav’s musical instincts and abilities.
But Flav’s assets as a group member were offset by his dependence. Crack and cocaine increasingly became a large part of his life.
A couple of years after, Flav discovered himself in more serious trouble when he was charged with attempted murder and sentenced to 90 days in prison. More trouble, in the type of additional domestic violence and substance charges, followed.
In 2003, a humbled and still recuperating Flav relocated to the West Coast and started seeking out television work. In 2004, he landed in the cast of the reality television show The Surreal Life, which, in part, recorded his relationship with Brigitte Nielsen.
Audience interest in the couple was so strong that it eventually inspired the creation of a brand new show, Strange Love. When the couple break in 2006, Flav found a brand new reality show, Flavor of Love, which ran for three seasons. The exact same year he released his first solo album, Flavor Flav, also called Hollywood. The record got a tepid response from supporters and critics.
While recent years have seen Flav reunite with Public Enemy, problem has additionally continued to dog him. In April 2011 Flav made headlines when he was detained by Vegas authorities. After pulling the hiphop star over for a traffic infraction, they found he’d four outstanding warrants for parking violations, driving with no license and driving without insurance.
The exact same month Flav was compelled to shut down his four-month old Flavor Flav’s Fried Chicken in Clinton, Iowa.
Flavor Flav, who’s the father of seven children, lives in La.