Hooters, The, popular band of the 1980s; f. 1980, Philadelphia, Pa. membership: Eric Bazilian, voc, kybd. (b. Philadelphia); Robert Hyman, voc, gtr. (b. Meriden, Conn.); David Uosikkinen, drm. (b. Cherlten-ham, Pa.); John Lilley, gtr. (b. West Chester, Pa.); Francis Smith, bs. (b. Mt. Laurel, N.J.). Hyman, Bazilian and Rick Chertoff met while attending the Univ. of Pa. They formed a band called Wax and played around the Philly area. By the time they were singed to Arista records in 1977, the band was called Baby Grand and had taken on overtones of progressive rock. However, it was the wrong sound at the wrong time in the era of the burgeoning new wave. They put out two albums that bombed badly.
Deep in debt, Chertoff set of to seek his fortune as a record producer. Hyman and Bazilian set out in a different musical direction. They started incorporating mandolins and other instruments as well as Caribbean rhythms into their music. They took the name for their new group, The Hooters, from what an engineer at a demo session called one of their odd instruments, the Melodica (a cross between a harmonica and a keyboard). The duo put together a new band, with a couple of former members of Robert Hazard’s band (he wrote “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”). They began playing in the Philadelphia area, developing a good sized following. At one point, the band played four sets a night, six nights a week. They kept up at this pace for two and a half years, but did not attract any interest from the record companies. Burned out after two and a half years, the band called it quits toward the end of 1982.
In the meantime, Epic had tapped Chertoff to produce an album by vocalist Cyndi Lauper. He called in his old buddies, and they played nearly every instrument on the album, with the exception of the drums and bass. That album, She’s So Unusual, propelled Lauper to stardom, and Hazard’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was the first hit off the album. Her collaboration with Hyman, “Time After Time,” was the second.
Re-energized by their success with Lauper, the Hooters reformed during the summer of 1983 and went into the studio with Chertoff to cut an indie record. That disc, Amore, sold over 100, 000 copies. That and the growing success of Lauper’s record led to the group signing with Columbia. Their major label debut, Nervous Night, produced four singles, the album rock hit “All You Zombies” (which hit #58 pop), the #21 hit “And We Danced,” the #18 “Day by Day,” and “Where Do the Children Go” (#38). While the album went on to sell over a million copies and hit #12, it was not really indicative of what the Hooters did; it was a more straight ahead pop rock album, eschewing a lot of the Caribbeanisms and odd instrumental flourishes that were their live forte. Millions of people around the world heard them play live when they performed as the opening act on the Philadelphia stage for Live Aid in 1985.
The group spent the next year on the road, opening for Squeeze, Bryan Adams, and a host of others. When they went into the studio to follow up Nervous Night, they made a more Hooters-like album, using the acoustic instruments and some new ideas they picked up on the road. 1987’s One Way Home went gold, but generated no real hits. Similarly, Zig-Zag caught Bazilian and Hyman at a strange and vulnerable time. Everything was changing, including the prevalent medium for recordings. A friend of theirs had died while they were on the road. They were closing in on 40. They recorded a version of “500 Miles” with special guest vocalists Peter Paul and Mary. The album did well overseas but stiffed in America.
Still a popular live attraction (and a huge one in Europe, Asia and Australia), the band continued touring. They played at Roger Water’s “Wall” extravaganza in 1990, but it took them three years to come out with Out of Body and by then, their fan base in the U.S. had dwindled to a few diehards. They have made a couple of records in Europe, where they still remain popular. Bazilian wrote the hit song “One of Us,” a #4 single in 1996. They keep busy doing sessions, having worked with Patti Smith on a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” Mick Jagger, Sophie B. Hawkins, and Willie Nelson, to name a few. In the late 1990s, they signed to Chertoff’s Blue Gorilla label.
Amore (1983); Nervous Night (1985); One Way Home (1987); Zig Zag (1989); Out of Body (1993); Johnny B. (1997); Live in Germany (1998).