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Gin Blossoms Biography

Home > Music > G > Gin Blossoms > Biography

Birth Place: Tempe, Arizona
Years Active: 1987 - 1997, 2002 - Present
Genres: Alternative Rock, Post-grunge, Jangle Pop

Gin Blossoms is an American pop rock band formed in 1987, in Tempe, Arizona. They took their name from a photo of W.C. Fields which bore the caption "W.C. Fields with gin blossoms," referring to what appeared to be the actor's gin-ravaged nose, but was actually a skin condition known as rosacea. Members of the band's early years include guitarist and songwriter Doug Hopkins, bassist Bill Leen, vocalist Robin Wilson, guitarist Richard Taylor, Taylor's original replacement Steven Severson, drummer Chris McCann, McCann's replacement Dan Henzerling, and Taylor's later replacement Jesse Valenzuela.

Gin Blossoms independently recorded their first full-length album, “Dusted,” which was released in 1989. By the early 1990s, the lineup had changed to Leen on bass, Hopkins on guitar, Valenzuela on guitar and vocals, Wilson on vocals and acoustic guitar, and Phillip Rhodes on drums. After being signed with A&M Records, the band began to work on their major-label debut. Initial attempts to create a major-label record faltered and the band released an EP, “Up and Crumbling,” instead.

Prior to releasing their debut major-label full-length, “New Miserable Experience,” Gin Blossoms terminated Hopkins and replaced him with Scott Johnson. The album was completed and in 1992 the first single released from it was Hopkins' song "Hey Jealousy." It would reach #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #4 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, largely fueling the success of “New Miserable Experience.” However, the achievement would be overshadowed by Hopkins' suicide on December 4, 1993. The following year, another song penned by Hopkins, "Found Out About You," would also reach #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and climbed to #1 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks.

Between their debut and second albums, the Gin Blossoms provided the single "Til I Hear It from You" for the “Empire Records” soundtrack. It reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their second major album, “Congratulations I'm Sorry,” was released in 1996. Yielding one Top 10 hit, "Follow You Down" which peaked at #9 Billboard Hot 100, the album met with mixed reviews.

The Blossoms broke up in the spring of 1997, and each band member moved on to his own project. Vocalist Wilson and drummer Rhodes launched the Gas Giants. Bassist Leen retired from music to operate a rare-book store. Guitarist Valenzuela fronted a short-lived outfit called the Low Watts, released a solo album, and kept busy writing and producing. Wilson ventured into producing as well, at his Mayberry Studios in Tempe, Arizona (the studio is now called Uranus Studios).

The Gas Giants announced an "indefinite hiatus" in June 2001. On December 4, 2001, it was announced that Scott would leave his current band, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, to rejoin the Gin Blossoms. The band regrouped and began playing together again in earnest in 2002.

In preparation to the band's official reunion show, Rhodes suffered a meltdown due to his ongoing battle with alcohol. Shortly after entering rehab, he was formally dismissed from the band. Phil Leavitt of dada originally took Rhodes' place in the lineup, and then Gary Smith of the Tempe band The Pistoleros stepped in. Scott Kusmirek took over drumming for the band from 2002 to 2004. In January 2005, it was announced that Rhodes, who had been sober for over two years, would rejoin the band. The re-entry of Rhodes was short-lived, however. Kusmirek returned to the band, taking Rhodes' place. "The Kooze", as he is affectionately known, served as drummer for the Gin Blossoms until September 2008, when a press release issued by the band explained he and the group parted ways. The current drummer is John Richardson.

The band's fourth album, “Major Lodge Victory,” was released by Hybrid Recordings in August 2006, and "Learning the Hard Way" was the first single. “Major Lodge Victory” debuted at #159 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. This was the first time the Gin Blossoms had appeared on the Billboard 200 chart in over 10 years.

Gin Blossoms released a live album, “Live In Concert,” in May 2009. This album contains live recordings of the band's hits such as "Hey Jealousy" and "Follow You Down," as well as recent singles such as "Learning the Hard Way" and "Long Time Gone," and also a live cover of Elton John's "Rocket Man."

The band's fifth studio album, “No Chocolate Cake,” was released in September 2010. The first single, "Miss Disarray" was released to stations in August 2010. The album peaked at #73 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.