BoDeans

  • Alternative rock band from Waukesha Wisconsin, formed in 1983. The main members of the band in the 90s were Kurt Neumann (lead vocals, lead guitar, songwriting), Sam Llanas (vocals, acoustic guitar, songwriting), Bob Griffin (bass guitar) and Michael Ramos (keyboards, accordian). There have been many drummers over the years – during their popular run in the 90s, Nick Kitsos was the drummer.
  • Neumann and Llanas were high school classmates. They had similar music tastes, and they started to write songs together. While they did not have much experience performing, they formed a band, calling themselves Da BoDeans, in 1980. Llanas claimed that the name came from Jethro Bodine, the character on The Beverly Hillbillies TV show, while Neumann considered it a mash-up of rock and roll legends Bo Diddley and James Dean. In 1983, they started playing in clubs around Milwaukee using various drummers and bass players. The next year, their first recorded song, Sally, was included in a sampler compilation released by a local record company. By 1985, they were signed to a recording contract, and producer T-Bone Burnett guided the recording of their first album – Burnett is an award winning producer of Americana music. Their record company suggested that the name of the band be shortened to simply BoDeans.
  • Their debut album, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, was released in 1986. While the singles did not chart, and the album did not crack the top 100, the critics loved the record, and a Rolling Stone reader poll voted BoDeans as The Best New American Band. For their next album, they wanted to evolve to more of an 80s modern rock sound. The album, Outside Looking In, had less of an Americana Roots sound. Two singles made it onto the Mainstream Rock chart – Only Love peaked at #16, while Dreams made it to #32. To support the album, they toured with U2 during the Joshua Tree tour, which greatly increased their exposure.
  • In 1989, their third album, Home, was released. The sound of the band continued to evolve – for this album, it was more like their first, but with elements of Motown, arena rock (U2 influenced), and heartland rock. The single You Don’t Get Much made it to #15 on the Alternative Songs chart.
  • The 90s brought more changes in style. 1991’s Black and White was produced by David Z, a producer who worked with Prince, and the album sounds much different than previous BoDeans efforts – more synthesizers and drum machines. The single Black, White and Blood Red charted at #34 on the Mainstream Rock chart. After this, they decided to not worry about trying to record a hit, and instead they worked with T-Bone Burnett again on their next album. The result was their most popular record, Go Slow Down. More alternative rock than roots rock, the album included the song Closer To Free, which was chosen as the theme song to the TV show Party of Five. This exposure increased the popularity of the song, and it eventually reached #16 on the Hot 100 chart, 3 years after its release.
  • In 1996, they released the album Blend. It is the last album that they released that also had a single released – Hurt By Love squeaked into the Adult Top 40 chart. Following this, the band went on hiatus due to some legal issues with their manager, as well as the demise of their record label. By 2003, they were able to reorganize, and a new album, Resolution, was released in 2004. The BoDeans have released 6 additional studio albums and 1 live album since then. Their most recent album, Thirteen, was released in 2017 – yes, it is their 13th studio album. In 2011, founding member Sam Llanas left to band due to “differences of opinion” and to focus on solo work – the band continues on without him.
  • Here is the video to their most popular song, Closer To Free. A little nostalgia for all of you thirty- or forty-something year olds out there who were big fans of Party of Five!

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