The Gin Blossoms made their live debut on Christmas night 1987 in a tiny chicken-wing restaurant in the band’s Tempe, Ariz., hometown. Jesse Valenzuela (guitar/vocals) Doug Hopkins (guitar) and Bill Leen (bass) were joined several months later by lead vocalist Robin Wilson and drummer Phillip Rhodes.
With a chiming, guitar-driven sound evoking Big Star, the Byrds and Tom Petty, the Gin Blossoms quickly became the college town’s most popular band, and soon landed a coveted spot at the March 1989 South by Southwest Music Conference. The appearance and independent release Dusted attracted major-label interest while College Media Journal dubbed them “Best Unsigned Band in America.” They signed with A&M in spring 1990.
EP Up And Crumbling EP was released in 1991 and followed by extensive touring. Hopkins left during the recording of the band’s full-length major label debut; replaced by longtime friend Scott Johnson. Their resulting 1992 album, New Miserable Experience, struggled for nine months before igniting with the top-ten success of single “Hey Jealousy.” Four more hit singles from the album, “Mrs. Rita,” “Found Out About You,” “Allison Road” and “Until I Fall Away” sent sales soaring toward the 3 million mark.
The Gin Blossoms scored a number-one hit in 1995 with the single “’Til I Hear It From You,” and second album Congratulations I’m Sorry (1996) yielded two more hits, “Follow You Down” and “As Long As It Matters,” which earned the group a Grammy nomination. The Blossoms then disbanded in 1997, with members going their own ways for various solo projects and collaborations. The Gin Blossoms reconvened for a small number of one-off appearances in 2000 and 2001 before reuniting in earnest in 2002 with a lineup that included drummer Scott Kusmirek. The band subsequently resumed touring and released its first new album in a decade, Major Lodge Victory, in 2006.
First full-length live album Gin Blossoms Live in Concert appeared in spring 2009, with the band now officially consisiting of Wilson, Valenzuela, Leen and Johnson. That lineup returned to the studio and released the 11-song No Chocolate Cake in fall 2010.