Hootie & the Blowfish
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Band Photos

Band Photos

1985 Lineup with Dean Felber, Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, and Brantley Smith.

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Band Photos

1985 Hootie gig at "Pappy's".

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Darius and Mark early live performance.

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1985 Hootie gig at "Pappy's". Photo courtesy of Kevin Oliver.

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USC Frat days. Left to right - Mark Bryan, Darius Rucker, Brantley Smith, and Dean Felber.

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Band Photos

Under a club marquee with Brantley Smith, Darius Rucker, Dean Felber, and Mark Bryan.

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Band Photos

Spring 1989: Brantley Smith goes home to Greenville, SC to work in youth ministries before moving to Texas for a seminary program in 1996. Darius, Dean, and Mark called a meeting to decide their next move. Mark reached out to a friend in one of his classes. Jim (Soni) Sonefeld played drums in the local band 'Tootie and the Jones,' but agreed to test the waters with Hootie during practice. After a few months, Soni signed on with them full time.

Band Photos

Band Photos

Spring 1989: Hootie's first time in a recording studio was at The Jam Room Recording Studio at their old location on Huger St. A Media Arts student at the University of South Carolina asked them for a song to use on a film soundtrack, but the band only had enough money for a short recording session. With the help of Jay Matheson, they were able to record and mix a song in just an hour and twenty minutes!

Band Photos

Band Photos

Fall 1989: Dick Hodgin, owner of M-80 Management, was going through his mail of demo tapes. He came across one from "Hootie & the Blowfish," he threw it into a pile for his intern, Rusty Harmon to listen to. The next day, Rusty burst into the office raving about the band, insisting Hodgin listen... they called Mark just minutes into the demo to come up and record. They tracked five songs, including 'Hold My Hand,' for their self-titled EP.

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1992: Live at Green Streets in Columbia, SC.

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1992: Performing live.

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1992: Performing live.

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1993: Early photo shoot of the band in Columbia, SC.

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Band Photos

1993: Early photo shoot of the band in Columbia, SC.

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1993: Early photo shoot of the band in Columbia, SC.

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Band Photos

1993: Early photo shoot of the band. Photo by Julia Shapiro.

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Band Photos

1994: Hootie and the Blowfish at Wetlands in New York City. Photo by Steve Eichner-WireImage.

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1994: Band photo shoot.

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1995: Band photo.

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1995: Band photo.

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1995: Cracked Rear View Mirror tour - Columbus, Ohio.

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1995: Cracked Rear View Mirror tour - Columbus, Ohio.

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Band Photos

1995: Cracked Rear View Mirror tour - Columbus, Ohio.

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Band Photos

1995: Cracked Rear View Mirror tour - Columbus, Ohio.

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Band Photos

1995: Billboard Music Award for Album of the Year.

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Band Photos

1995: American Music Awards

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Band Photos

1995: 12th Annual MTV Video Music Awards on September 7, 1995 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York.

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Band Photos

1995: 12th Annual MTV Video Music Awards on September 7, 1995 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York. Photo by Catherine McGann

Band Photos

Band Photos

1996: Band Photo. Photo by Chris Carroll/Corbis.

Band Photos

Band Photos

1996: Hootie and the Blowfish pose for photographers with their Grammy for Best New Artist and Best Pop Performance by a Group with Vocal for "Let Her Cry" at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles 28 February. Photo by Jeff Haynes/AFP via Getty Images.

Band Photos

Band Photos

1996: Hootie and the Blowfish on the stage at Farm Aid, Columbia, South Carolina, October 12. (L-R) Mark Bryan, Jim Sonefeld, Darius Rucker, and Dean Felber. Photo by Paul Natkin.

Band Photos

Band Photos

1997: Summer Goodwill Games IV Kick-Off Celebration on July 17 at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd.

Band Photos

Band Photos

1997: The Tonight Show (L-R) Dean Felber, Darius Rucker, and Jim Sonefeld of Hootie & the Blowfish performing on December 10. Photo by Margaret Norton.

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Band Photos

1998: Hootie performs with REM.

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Band Photos

1998: Hootie performs live onboard the USS Enterprise.

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Band Photos

1996: Hootie & the BlowFish performing in Aspen, Co. Photo by Bill Tompkins.

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Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Articles and Write-ups

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

Flyers, Posters, and Calendars

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On the subject of Hootie & the Blowfish I have never spoken with a single person from South Carolina that was not proud of them. They are the band that put us on the map and that legacy will carry forever more. I was late collecting their catalog and later still giving them a deep and honest study but personally I believe that worked out for the best and here’s why – I did not get swept up in the fever of 1994 or the mania that followed, I was submerged in building my own home studio, writing, recording, and learning and gave little thought to the world of music outside for many years. Exploring them later as a much older and wiser audiophile I could concentrate on the beauty of the music and recognize the power and brilliance of the delivery and structure, yes, they were and are really that good!

 

I could say a lot more about this band but that has been covered by people far greater than I, but I will say this in closing – Greater than their body of music is the fact that these four guys are hands down some of the nicest, most genuine artists to come out of our state. They did not forget where they came from, They have not forgotten about us, and they still keep giving back when most others would have long since quit. That makes me feel really good about Hootie & the Blowfish and really proud to have them as our ambassadors.

Hootie & the Blowfish came together in 1986 on the Columbia campus of the University of South Carolina, where the band members - Mark Bryan (born c. 1967, in Gaithersburg, MD), guitar; Dean Felber (born c. 1967, in Gaithersburg, MD), bass; Darius Rucker (born c. 1966, in Charleston, SC), vocals; and Brantley Smith (born c. 1966, in Greenville, SC), drums - all attended undergraduate school.

 

Darius Rucker and Mark Bryan met when they were freshmen at USC. Bryan heard Rucker singing in the showers of the dorm they shared and was impressed by his vocal ability. The pair began playing cover tunes locally as the Wolf Brothers.  Eventually they collaborated with bassist Dean Felber, a former high school band mate of Bryan's both being from Gaithersburg, MD, and Brantley Smith, a local drummer. Darius Rucker was also part of a vocal ensemble called Carolina Alive. One of the other singers, Donald Feaster, wore big glasses, so Rucker dubbed him "Hootie." Another, Ervin Harris, had puffy cheeks, so he was "Blowfish." One night at a Carolina Alive gathering, Feaster and Harris walked in together and Rucker exclaimed "It's Hootie and the Blowfish!” Right away, he knew he had the name for his newly formed band.

 

After college Hootie & the Blowfish embarked on full-time touring, swinging through southern bars, taverns, and fraternity house parties in exchange for modest payments and free beer. People familiar with the band at that time, however, also note that its members showed an early interest in developing their careers beyond the next gig. Brantley Smith left the group shortly after finishing college to pursue a music ministry, which took him to Texas, and he was replaced on drums by Jim "Soni" Sonefeld (born c. 1965, in Chicago, IL) in 1989.

 

Building a local following throughout the southeast the band released their first EP in 1990 on the JRS label. The label dropped them eight months later but they followed up by independently releasing two cassette demo EPs in 1991 and 1992. In 1993 the band produced a self-financed EP called Kootchypop and even though it was only available at their shows, the EP eventually sold a remarkable 50,000 copies. These sales, combined with their knack for selling concert T-shirts, piqued the interest of Atlantic Records talent scout Tim Sommer who helped get the band signed to a recording contract that same year

 

Their mainstream debut album was Cracked Rear View. Released in July 1994, the album's popularity grew after its release, becoming the best-selling album of 1995, and was one of the fastest-selling debut albums of all time. The album, which was certified platinum in the United States in January 1995 and incrementally rose to 12x platinum by January 1996 and 16x platinum by March 1999. In May 2019, the certifications level was updated from 16x platinum to 21x platinum. The album featured four hits, "Hold My Hand" (U.S. No. 10), "Let Her Cry" (U.S. No. 9), "Only Wanna Be with You" (U.S. No. 6), and "Time" (U.S. No. 14).

 

The band won the "Best New Artist" award at the 1996 Grammy Awards. Hootie & the Blowfish appeared on MTV Unplugged on the eve of the release of their second album, Fairweather Johnson (1996). It contained the hit single "Old Man and Me" (U.S. No. 13), and sold four million copies in the United States. Hootie & the Blowfish has since released three more studio albums: Musical ChairsHootie & the Blowfishand, and Looking for Lucky. They also released a B-sides and rarities compilation titled Scattered, Smothered and Covered (2000). In 1995, Hootie & the Blowfish contributed the song "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do" to the Encomium tribute album to Led Zeppelin. Their cover of Canadian group 54-40's "I Go Blind", released on the soundtrack to the television series Friends in 1995, did not appear on Cracked Rear View or Fairweather Johnson, but became a hit on radio in 1996 after three singles from Fairweather Johnson had been released. Both "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do" and "I Go Blind" were later released on the compilation Scattered, Smothered and Covered.

 

In 1996, Hootie & the Blowfish started their own record label, Breaking Records, as a subsidiary of Atlantic. They had planned to focus on signing local Carolina acts. Edwin McCain and Cravin' Melon were associated with the label at one point but did not release any material on it. The Meat PuppetsJump, Little Children, Virginwool, Treadmill Trackstar and Treehouse released one album each on Breaking Records. The label folded in 2000.

 

In 1998, they performed on Frank Wildhorn's concept album of the musical The Civil War. The group covered the 1968 Orpheus hit "Can't Find the Time" for the soundtrack of the Jim Carrey movie Me, Myself & Irene (2000). Orpheus creator and the song's writer Bruce Arnold traded verses with Darius on several occasions, when the band played live on the West Coast. The band had an extensive touring schedule, including an annual New Year's Eve show at Silverton Las Vegas (formerly known as Boomtown Las Vegas) in Enterprise, Nevada. In 2008, the band started releasing their concerts as downloads through True Anthem.

 

In 2008, Rucker announced in an AOL Sessions interview that Hootie & the Blowfish would be going on hiatus so Rucker could pursue his solo career as a country music performer. The band reunited for a one-time performance on the Late Show with David Letterman in the run-up to Letterman's retirement from the show in May 2015. That same year, in August, Darius Rucker said on The Today Show that the band members were working on new songs and would record a new album when they had enough material. The band got together on occasion during their decade-long hiatus to play live shows, usually for charity, but they made no announcements regarding future albums or tours until December 2018. The band announced a 44-city Group Therapy Tour with Barenaked Ladies in 2019 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of Cracked Rear View. The tour began on May 30, 2019, in Virginia Beach and concluded on September 13 in their hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. They also signed a new record deal with UMG Nashville." Their sixth studio album Imperfect Circle was released on November 1, 2019.

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