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Placebo Biography

Home > Music > P > Placebo > Biography

Birth Place: London, England
Years Active: 1994-Present
Genres: Alternative Rock, Post-punk Revival

Placebo is an alternative rock band formed in London in 1992 by singer/guitarist Brian Molko and bass guitarist Stefan Olsdal. The duo recruited drummer Robert Schultzberg, who was replaced by Steve Hewitt, who was placed by Steve Forrest in 2008. To date the band has released six studio albums, all peaking in the Top 20 on the U.K. Album chart. Molko and Olsdal met at the south Kensington tube station on their way home from work one day and connected over music. Molko invited Olsdal to come to one of his gigs at a local bar; when Olsdal saw Molko perform the duo decided to form a band. The band began to build a local fan base in and around London and created a buzz that the record labels came to check out. The band eventually signed with Caroline Records.

Placebo's self-titled debut album appeared in 1996 and peaked at # 5 on the U.K. Albums chart. The album was a commercial success despite the musical climate of Britpop dominating the charts at the time. Schultzberg left the band shortly thereafter and Hewitt signed on as the band's permanent drummer. David Bowie became a public fan of the band and invited them to open up for him on his 1996 tour. 1998 marked a major label change for Placebo over to Virgin Records, and their debut release for the label, “Without You I'm Nothing.” The album was a huge success in the U.K., and was able to break through to the U.S markets and establish the band in America. The lead single off the album, “Pure Morning” was a hit on the U.S charts. 1999 saw Placebo play, “20th Century Boy” live with David Bowie at the BRIT Awards show.

The band's third offering, “Black Market Music” emerged in 2000 and was a moderate success but deviated from their typical musical sound, displaying a more straightforward guitar-driven sound often associated with 1970s British and American rock. The album did not attain the same level of attention from the press that their previous albums did, in fact, around this time Placebo's relationship with the media became somewhat tense as the band were more publicly ridiculed. The band followed up with their fourth offering, “Sleeping with Ghosts” in 2003, which peaked at #11 on the U.K. Album chart. The band then embarked on a tour in support of the album in 2004. Again, the musical direction of the band shifted with more emphasis on experimentation with dance and electronic music. The album was received with mixed reviews from both their fans and critics alike.

The band took a break for a year when they returned from their tour, and resurfaced in late 2005 to begin work on their fifth studio album, “Meds,” which was released in 2006. The album spawned the hit singles: “Because I Want You” and “Song to Say Goodbye, with the latter becoming an international hit.” 2007 marked Hewitt's departure from Placebo and the addition of Steve Forrest. Placebo parted ways with EMI in 2008 and remained fairly inactive until 2011, when the band announced they are working on new material for the next studio album.