Hootie & the Blowfish

  • Rock band formed in 1986 from Columbia South Carolina. Members of the band are Darius Rucker (frontman, lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Mark Bryan (lead guitar, piano, backing vocals), Dean Felber (bass guitar, piano, backing vocals) and Jim Sonefeld (drums, rhythm guitar, backing vocals). All members contributed to songwriting.
  • Rucker and Bryan met in college – Bryan heard Rucker singing in the shower and was impressed with his vocal skills. They formed a duo called The Wolf Brothers, playing cover songs. They expanded the group, adding Bryan’s high school friend Felber, and drummer Brantley Smith. They chose their unusual band name after 2 friends in college – one had huge glasses that made him look like an owl (hootie), and the other had big cheeks that made him look like a blowfish. The band was performing a concert, and the pair walked in – Rucker announced their arrival as the arrival of Hootie and the Blowfish, and they liked how that sounded, so they adopted it as the name of the band.
  • In 1989, Smith left the band to focus on Contemporary Christian Music, and he was replaced by Sonefeld. In 1991 and 1992, they produced demo cassette tapes that were released to fans, and in 1993, they made 50,000 copies of self-made EP called Kootchypop. A national record label heard the EP, and signed the band to a contract in 1993, willing to take a chance on their alternative pop-rock sound instead of grunge and R&B, which were prevalent in the music industry at that time.
  • The band released their debut album in 1994 – Cracked Rear View. It became one of the biggest selling debut albums of all time – it was the best selling album of 1995, the seventh best selling album of the decade, and 25 years after its release, it was certified 21x platinum. Four songs from the album were major hits – Hold My Hand, Let Her Cry and Only Wanna Be With You all broke into the Hot 100 top 10, and were #2 or #1 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. Time peaked at #14 on the Hot 100, and it topped the Adult Top 40 chart. The album’s success led to 2 Grammy award wins – Best New Artist for the group and Best Pop Performance by a Group for Let Her Cry.
  • Their follow-up album, Fairweather Johnson, was released in 1996. While not nearly as successful as their debut, it topped the album chart and was certified 3x platinum. The biggest hit from the album was Old Man & Me (When I Get to Heaven) which peaked at #13 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Alternative Songs chart. 1998’s Musical Chairs album continued to reflect lower sales, though the band had earned enough fans such that it sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. The single I Will Wait reached #3 on the Adult Top 40 chart.
  • The band took a break from recording new music for several years. In 2000, they released a compilation album of cover songs originally recorded by a wide range of other artists, from Led Zeppelin to Roy Orbison to R.E.M to Bill Withers. In 2003, they released a self-titled album of original music and in 2005, another new album was released. Songs from these album did not chart highly.
  • As interest in the band was declining, Rucker launched a solo country music career, while Hootie & the Blowfish continued to perform charity concerts several times a year. In the late 00s and early 10s, Rucker was one of the biggest stars of country music, with 8 singles topping country music charts. In 2015, the band reunited to perform on one of the final shows of The Late Show With David Letterman, and the band decided to record and tour again. Their most recent album, Imperfect Circle, was released in 2019.
  • Imagine their good fortune – the band performed in tiny venues for 8 years, finally was discovered, and their first effort became one of the best selling albums of all time. There are only 10 albums that are certified 21x platinum or higher (The Eagles’ Greatest Hits 1971 – 1975 leads the way at 38x). I guess I helped – I own it too. Here’s the video to their Grammy winning song, Let Her Cry.

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