Gin Blossoms

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Gin Blossoms
Gin Blossoms in 2018
Background information
Origin Tempe, Arizona, USA
Genres Alternative rock, jangle pop
Years active
  • 1987–1997
  • 2001–present
Labels A&M, Hybrid, 429 [1]
Associated actsThe Chimeras, The Pistoleros, Gas Giants, The Refreshments, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Jesse Valenzuela, Robin Wilson, The Longshadows, Scott Johnson, The Smithereens, Scotty Johnson & Scott Hessel
Members Bill Leen
Jesse Valenzuela
Robin Wilson
Scott "Scotty" Johnson
Scott Hessel
Past members Doug Hopkins
Richard Taylor
Chris McCann
Steven Severson
Dan Henzerling
Phillip "Phil" Rhodes
Phil Leavitt
Gary Smith
Scott Kusmirek
John Richardson

Gin Blossoms is an American rock band formed in 1987 in Tempe, Arizona. They rose to prominence following the 1992 release of their first major label album, New Miserable Experience , and the first single released from that album, "Hey Jealousy". "Hey Jealousy" became a Top 25 hit and went gold, and New Miserable Experience eventually went quadruple platinum; four other charting singles were released from the album. The band's follow-up album, Congratulations I'm Sorry (1996), went platinum and the single "As Long as It Matters" was nominated for a Grammy Award. Gin Blossoms broke up in 1997. Since reuniting in 2001, the band has released Major Lodge Victory in 2006, No Chocolate Cake in 2010, and Mixed Reality in 2018.


Gin Blossoms has been described as an alternative rock band [2] and as a jangle pop [3] [4] band. According to Rolling Stone , the band excels at "marrying world-weary lyrics with ebullient melodies." [5] In 2017, the Salina Journal described Gin Blossoms as a "Tempe, Ariz.-based indie band [acclaimed] by critics and fans alike for its chiming guitars, introspective lyrics and catchy pop-rock melodies," adding that "Gin Blossoms has maintained its longevity by being mostly a road band." [3] The group is known for the "Mill Avenue sound", or "southwestern sound", similar to other bands from Arizona such as The Sidewinders, The Refreshments, The Meat Puppets, and Dead Hot Workshop. [6]


Early years

During the band's early years, its members included lead guitarist and songwriter Doug Hopkins, bass guitarist Bill Leen, Jesse Valenzuela (lead vocalist at first, later rhythm guitarist and backing vocals), rhythm guitarist Richard Taylor, Taylor's replacement Steven Severson, drummer Chris McCann, McCann's replacement Dan Henzerling, and Severson's replacement Robin Wilson (rhythm guitarist at first, later lead vocalist). [7] The band's name comes from a photo of W.C. Fields in Kenneth Anger's infamously erroneous book, Hollywood Babylon , which bore the caption "W.C. Fields with gin blossoms", referring to the actor's telangiectasia-ravaged face and rhinophymic nose by the slang term for the skin condition known as rosacea. [8]

Gin Blossoms became well known around the band's hometown of Tempe, Arizona. The band's frequent touring resulted in an increase in popularity. They independently recorded their first full-length album, Dusted , which was released in December of 1989. [9]

By the early 1990s, Wilson and Valenzuela had switched roles, with Wilson taking on lead vocal duties and Valenzuela concentrating on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Along with Leen on bass and Hopkins on lead guitar, Phillip Rhodes became the new drummer. After being signed to A&M Records, the band began to work on their first major label album. Initial attempts faltered and the band released an EP, Up and Crumbling , instead. [10]

Mainstream success

Gin Blossoms named their second album New Miserable Experience . In February 1992, while still working to complete it, founding member and lead guitarist/songwriter Hopkins drank heavily and grew increasingly depressed. With the other members hesitant to fire Hopkins, A&M forcefully removed him from the band and withheld $15,000 owed to Hopkins until he agreed to sign over half of his publishing royalties and relinquish his mechanical royalties. Hopkins reluctantly agreed to these demands because of his dire financial situation. [11] Scott Johnson was chosen by the band in December 1992 as Hopkins' stand-in on tour, and became a permanent member in 1994. [12]

New Miserable Experience became the band's breakthrough album. [13] The first single released from the album was "Hey Jealousy", which had been written by Hopkins. The song reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks and later went gold, [14] largely fueling the success of New Miserable Experience. However, the achievement was overshadowed by Hopkins's suicide on December 5, 1993. [15] The following year, another song by Hopkins, "Found Out About You", also reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and climbed to No. 1 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks. New Miserable Experience eventually reached quadruple platinum status. [14]

Between their first and second albums, Gin Blossoms contributed the single "Til I Hear It from You" for the Empire Records soundtrack. It reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their second major album, Congratulations I'm Sorry , was released in 1996. Yielding one top ten hit ("Follow You Down", which peaked at No. 9 Billboard Hot 100), the album went platinum. [16] A song from the album entitled As Long as It Matters was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. [17]

With chart success came opportunities to appear as musical guests on late night television. Between 1993 and 1996, Gin Blossoms appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1993), Late Show with David Letterman (1994), and as featured musical act on Saturday Night Live (1996). Gin Blossoms appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman in solo appearances, and once performed "Christine Sixteen" with the members of Kiss. Gin Blossoms became a favorite of Late Show musical director Paul Shaffer, and their music was often featured as the show cut to and from commercials. The band was also a featured performer in the closing credits of the movie Wayne's World 2 (1993), performing "Idiot Summer" on-screen as part of the fictional concert "Waynestock". [18]

Without Doug and his songwriting, we never could have signed a record deal.

—Robin Wilson (People, 1994) [19]


Gin Blossoms broke up in early 1997. Wilson and Rhodes launched the Gas Giants while Leen formed a band called Rai and then retired from music to operate a rare book store. Valenzuela fronted a short-lived outfit called the Low Watts, released a solo album, and kept busy writing and producing. Johnson joined another Tempe-based band, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. Wilson ventured into producing as well, at his Mayberry Studios in Tempe, Arizona. (The studio is now called Uranus Studios.) [20]

Lead singer Robin Wilson Gin Blossoms 9 06 2014 -11 (15167457941).jpg
Lead singer Robin Wilson


The Gas Giants announced an "indefinite hiatus" in June 2001. On December 4, 2001, it was announced that Scott was leaving Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers to rejoin Gin Blossoms. The band regrouped and began playing together again in earnest in 2002, having done a couple of one-off shows in the interim. In the words of the front man Robin Wilson at the time, "We always said our breakup wasn't forever and right now we're all feeling like we want to be Gin Blossoms again. We make a noise together that we can't make otherwise. We respect and appreciate that we need each other to create that sound. This time we hope to avoid being swallowed by the chaos." [21]

Guitarist Scotty Johnson ScottyJohnson.jpg
Guitarist Scotty Johnson
Guitarist Jesse Valenzuela Jesse Valenzuela of the Gin Blossoms.jpg
Guitarist Jesse Valenzuela

In preparation for the band's official reunion show, Rhodes suffered a breakdown due to his ongoing battle with alcohol. Shortly after entering rehab, he was formally dismissed from the band. [22] Phil Leavitt of Dada originally took Rhodes' place in the line up, and then Gary Smith (of The Pistoleros, another Tempe band) 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 until September 30, 2008, when a press release issued by the band explained that he and the group had parted ways. John Richardson joined as the new drummer. [23]

Bass guitarist Bill Leen Bass Guitar Bill Leen.jpg
Bass guitarist Bill Leen

The band's fourth album, Major Lodge Victory , was originally recorded at Wilson's Mayberry Studios in Tempe. However, the album was re-recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, where the band had recorded all of their previous albums. Major Lodge Victory was released by Hybrid Recordings on August 8, 2006, and "Learning the Hard Way" was the first single. Major Lodge Victory entered the Billboard 200 album chart at number 159. [24]

Drummer Scott Hessel Drummer Scott Hessel of Gin Blossoms.jpg
Drummer Scott Hessel

Gin Blossoms released a live album, Live In Concert , on May 15, 2009. This album contains live recordings of the band's hits such as "Hey Jealousy" and "Follow You Down", as well as more recent singles such as "Learning the Hard Way" and "Long Time Gone", and a live cover version of Elton John's "Rocket Man". The band's fifth studio album, No Chocolate Cake , was released on September 28, 2010. The first single, "Miss Disarray" was released to radio stations on August 2, 2010. Over the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday the band traveled to Iraq and played a series of shows for American troops stationed there. [25]

The band announced on its website on March 4, 2012, that Richardson had left the band to pursue other recording and performing projects. [26] The band stated in its news release, "John is a great drummer and all of us support his passion for recording. We all wish him the very best and thank him for all his hard work and dedication." The band also announced that Scott Hessel would be its road drummer. Hessel had been a member of another Tempe band, Let Go. Gin Blossoms joined Everclear, Sugar Ray, Lit, and Marcy Playground on the Summerland Tour 2012, a 31-date nationwide tour that began on June 28, 2012, in Saratoga, California, and ended on August 11, 2012, in Laughlin, Nevada. [27]

From July 24, 2012 through October 13, 2012, Doug Swartz filled in for Scott Hessel during the Summerland Tour and other performances through the months into the middle of October. [28]

In 2016, Johnson announced in an interview that the band was expected to begin recording its sixth studio album with producer Mitch Easter in the fall. [29] Two years later, Mixed Reality was released on Cleopatra Records on June 15, 2018. The album was produced by Don Dixon (musician). [30]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Gin Blossoms among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [31] The band toured in the summer of 2019 with Collective Soul. [32]

Band members


Gin Blossoms


Related Research Articles

<i>New Miserable Experience</i> 1992 studio album by Gin Blossoms

New Miserable Experience is the second studio album by rock band Gin Blossoms, released on August 4, 1992. The album was released to little fanfare and relatively lackluster reviews. However, nearly a year after its release the lead single "Hey Jealousy" entered the top 40. With "Found Out About You" following a few months later, the album eventually reached multi-platinum status.

Douglas Owen "Doug" Hopkins was an American musician and songwriter. He co-founded the Gin Blossoms, a popular modern rock band of the early 1990s, with Richard Taylor. He was the band's lead guitarist and a principal songwriter.

Robin Wilson (musician) American musician

Robin Wilson is an American musician, most notable for his work as the lead vocalist of the rock band Gin Blossoms. He has stepped in as occasional lead singer for The Smithereens.

Jesse Valenzuela American rock musician and singer

Jesse Valenzuela is an American rock musician and singer who is perhaps best known as a member of the alternative rock band Gin Blossoms. Valenzuela was originally the vocalist in Gin Blossoms when the band first formed in 1987.

<i>Congratulations Im Sorry</i> 1996 studio album by Gin Blossoms

Congratulations I'm Sorry is the third studio album by the American power pop band Gin Blossoms, and the follow-up album to the successful 1992 release New Miserable Experience, released in 1996 by A&M records. The album was named in reference to the success of 1992's New Miserable Experience, followed closely by the suicide of the former band member Doug Hopkins in 1993.

<i>Mixed Reality</i> 2018 studio album by Gin Blossoms

Mixed Reality is the sixth studio album by American alternative rock band Gin Blossoms. It was released on June 15, 2018, on Cleopatra Records.

Hey Jealousy 1989 song by Gin Blossoms

"Hey Jealousy" is a song by the American rock band the Gin Blossoms. The song was included in the group's debut album Dusted (1989), and then was re-recorded on their breakthrough 1992 album New Miserable Experience. It was written by lead guitarist Doug Hopkins, who was fired from the band shortly after the recording of the second album. It became their first top-forty single on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1993, reaching number 25, and it also peaked at number 20 in Iceland, number 24 in the United Kingdom, number 28 in Australia and number 39 in Canada.

The Refreshments were an alternative rock band from Tempe, Arizona. The band is best known for the single "Banditos" from their 1996 breakthrough album Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy, and also for "Yahoos and Triangles", the theme song to the long-running animated series King of the Hill. The latter was a piece the band traditionally performed at soundchecks. The Refreshments disbanded in 1998, although Roger Clyne and P.H. Naffah continue to tour and play Refreshments songs along with new music as Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers.

Gas Giants were a pop rock band from Tempe, Arizona, formed as a successor project to the Gin Blossoms. The group was known as The Pharaohs when they formed in 1997, but changed their name after their label, A&M Records, merged with Universal Records and the band changed hands, re-signing with Interscope Records. Eventually, the group released their album, From Beyond the Back Burner, in 1999 on indie Atomic Pop Records. Comic book artist Geof Darrow provided the artwork for the album. The band featured Gin Blossoms members Robin Wilson, Phillip Rhodes and Daniel Henzerling, as well as Mickey Ferrel, who was previously in the band Grievous Angels. Henzerling was the drummer for the Gin Blossoms before the current drummer, Phillip Rhodes. The band toured with Train in 2000 behind the band's only single, "Quitter".

<i>Dusted</i> (Gin Blossoms album) 1989 studio album by Gin Blossoms

Dusted is the debut album by the alternative rock band the Gin Blossoms. It was released through San Jacinto Records, a small independent label as a 12-song tape and record in 1989.

<i>Up and Crumbling</i> 1991 EP by Gin Blossoms

Up and Crumbling is an EP released by the Gin Blossoms on October 8, 1991. It was released after the Gin Blossoms signed with A&M Records and, while attempting to create a full-length album, ran into a creative drought during the recording sessions. According to the band's official website, the band recorded Up and Crumbling "on their own in hopes of rekindling the spark from Dusted that had been missing from the recent recordings." The songs from this EP were remastered and included on the 2002 deluxe edition of the band's breakthrough album, New Miserable Experience.

<i>Major Lodge Victory</i> 2006 studio album by Gin Blossoms

Major Lodge Victory is the fourth studio album by the power pop band Gin Blossoms. It was the first album released by the band since their 1997–2002 breakup. It was released on August 8, 2006, on Hybrid Recordings, making it the Gin Blossoms' first new album in over 10 years.

Found Out About You 1989 song by Gin Blossoms

"Found Out About You" is the fourth single from the Gin Blossoms' second album New Miserable Experience, recorded in 1992. Written by lead guitarist Doug Hopkins, who was fired from the band after the album, the Gin Blossoms had previously recorded it on their 1989 debut album Dusted.

Til I Hear It from You 1995 single by Gin Blossoms

"Til I Hear It from You" is a song by the Gin Blossoms that was released as the lead single from the soundtrack to the film Empire Records in August 1995. It topped the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart for six weeks, rose to number eight in Iceland and reached number 39 in the United Kingdom. In January 1996, it was re-released as a double-A side with "Follow You Down" in the United States, peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard magazine described "Til I Hear It from You" as "the closest thing to a perfect pop song to hit radio in recent memory" lauding its "breezy and wonderfully infectious melody, the boy-needs-girl lyrics, and the earnest execution."

Dead Hot Workshop is an American rock band based in Tempe, Arizona.

<i>No Chocolate Cake</i> 2010 studio album by Gin Blossoms

No Chocolate Cake is the fifth studio album by power pop band Gin Blossoms. It was released on September 28, 2010, worldwide, and the first single, "Miss Disarray", was released to radio stations on August 2, 2010. The album reached #1 on MP3 album charts on the release date. No Chocolate Cake entered the Billboard 200 album chart at number 73 after selling 7,000 copies in its first week of release. It was the album's peak position, after falling off the chart the following week.

<i>Outside Looking In: The Best of the Gin Blossoms</i> 1999 greatest hits album by Gin Blossoms

Outside Looking In: The Best of the Gin Blossoms is a greatest hits album by pop rock band Gin Blossoms. It was released in 1999 on A&M Records. It includes eleven songs from their previous two A&M studio albums, New Miserable Experience and Congratulations… I'm Sorry. The remaining three songs are from different sources. "Just South of Nowhere" was originally included on the 1991 EP Up and Crumbling. The hit single "Til I Hear It from You" was originally found on the soundtrack of the 1995 movie Empire Records. "Whitewash" is a previously unreleased 1996 live recording of the song originally included on Congratulations… I'm Sorry.

One Lone Car

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Rarities is a compilation album by pop rock band Gin Blossoms. It was released in 2010 on A&M Records. It was originally the second disc in the New Miserable Experience Deluxe Edition, released in 2002. It includes nineteen tracks not found on prior albums. These encompass seven tracks from two EPs, Up and Crumbling and Shut Up and Smoke, six tracks from a 1993 live performance, two studio outtakes, two alternate versions of previously released songs, a soundtrack contribution and Big Star cover.

As Long as It Matters 1996 single by Gin Blossoms

"As Long as It Matters" is a song by the American power pop band Gin Blossoms. It was released in 1996 on A&M as the third single and as well as the fifth track from their third studio album, Congratulations I'm Sorry (1996). It is a power pop song that was written by Phillip Rhodes, Jesse Valenzuela and Robin Wilson, and produced by John Hampton and by its own band.


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