Michael McGettigan of Philadelphia magazine de scribed the Hooters as “an all oldies band, a working class oldies band.” This somewhat negative summation of the Hooters sound was in direct opposition to what most fans, and many critics, were saying about the rock band. Their very first album, Nervous Night, sold over a million copies and Rolling Stone readers voted them the “Best New Band” of 1986. People magazine reviewed their fourth album, Zig Zag, and praised it for “punching out sinewy rock and roll” that distances them from the pack. Stereo Review had similarly good feelings about the album, “Theirs is a bright, contemporary folk-rock hybrid that boasts the sizzle of fingers slicing across acoustic strings and the ragged edge of voices.” And New York magazine said “Something about [its] opening cut forces you to stop and listen … what makes [the lyrics] work are the quick, hard strums of the acoustic guitar that open the track … the unadorned hard-rock sound.”
Perhaps what makes the Hooters’ sound so appealing is its believable quality. They made blue collar rock and
Members include Eric Bazilian, guitar, vocals; Rob Hyman, keyboards; John Lilley, guitar; Andy King, bass; Fran Smith, bass (replaced King in 1988); David Uosikkinen, drums.
Formed ca. 1983 in Philadelphia, PA; released debut album Amore on Antenna Records, 1983; signed with Columbia and released Nervous Night album, 1985; released Nervous Night video on CBS Video, 1985; released One Way Home on Columbia records, 1987; released Zig Zag on Columbia Records, 1989; released Out of Body on MCA Records, 1993; released The Hooters Live on MCA Records, 1994.
Addresses: Agent —Cornerstone Management, 148 East Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, PA 19087. Website —www.Polygram.com/polygram.
roll and they did it so well. This was because they knew well which elements distinguish the blue collar life: hard work, perseverance, loyalty and a do-it-yourself attitude. As Hooters keyboardist Rob Hyman asserted in Billboard magazine, their song “Beat Up Guitar” is not only a tribute to the Philadelphia music scene, but also a tribute to “everyone who refuses to give up on their dreams no matter what those dreams are or where they live in the world.”
The band first formed in the mid-seventies when Hyman and singer Eric Bazilian met at the University of Pennsylvania. Both were science majors, but both dreamed of musical careers. Hyman had been intent on music since age three, when he first learned to play the Davy Crockett theme on the piano. This hobby grew to a serious love in college. He told People magazine that he “did terribly at biology. I came to school really to do one thing—find musicians. I just wanted to jam.” And so he found what he was looking for in Eric Bazilian.
Bazilian came from a musical family; before giving birth to Eric, his mother played piano for the Fred Waring band. This musicality rubbed off on Bazilian, who was also drawn to science and saw a connection between his two passions: “quantum physics and thermodynamics [were] the same as creating a piece of music: the initial burst when you get started; the middle where you don’t know where you’re going; then the burst of inspiration when suddenly the whole thing makes sense.” What made sense, then, was for Hyman and Bazilian to form a group and that’s exactly what they did. In 1978 they were signed with Arista Records as an experimental group called Baby Grand. Though they eventually disbanded, the duo stuck together and were joined by drummer David Uosikkinen. The three men comprised an early version of the Hooters, which eventually broke up.
Then came one of the more famous footnotes in the Hooters career. 1983 saw a former classmate of Hyman’s, now a record producer, hire Hyman and Bazilian to back up the burgeoning singer Cyndi Lauper. This association led the two to pen one of Lauper’s biggest hits—“Time After Time.” The pair was then asked to form the core of Lauper’s band. Though they look back fondly upon this chapter of their careers, it also made them realize that making, and playing, their own music was a priority.
In 1983 Andy King and John Lilley joined up with Hyman, Bazilian and Uosikkinen. The band’s unusual name sprung from musicians’ slang for slang for the Hohner harmonica. They worked the Philadelphia club scene with a vengeance, cultivating a rabid fan base. They independently released their first album, Amore, which was extremely well-received by the Philadelphia fans. Then, in 1985 they signed with Columbia records and released Nervous Night, which brought them not only national attention, but critical acclaim as well.
Unfortunately, they were cursed by the sophomore slump. Their second Columbia release, One Way Home had its fans, but was generally regarded as a disappointment after their debut. The band itself admitted that the album might have been ill-conceived. In Billboard magazine, Hyman described what they learned from One Way Home’s failure and how it affected to their third album, Zig Zag: “We attacked [Zig Zag] a whole different way. The songs aren’t about dancing and cars. They’re about real-life situations that we see staring at us every day, like homelessness and violence in the streets.”
Another lyrical shift would occur in 1993, when the Hooters would release their first album in four years, which was on a new label: MCA. Bazilian told Billboard magazine that the split from Columbia was mutual and how the band’s entire approach was new, “We wanted to write more of a personal album as opposed to the last album, which was more political and socially conscious.”
But the big changes happening to the Hooters at this time were “staff changes. “Uosikkinen moved from Philadelphia to L.A., making recording more difficult. And Mindy Jostyn, singer and player of many instruments, was added to the band. Many groups might not weather such changes so gracefully, but in typical Hooters fashion, the tough group from Philly did. In fact, affirms Hyman in Billboard magazine, “There were days where it felt like this album might never be made [with] finding the producer, changing the label … harnessing that whole group energy back together … but no matter what the fate of this album, we came out … with a really strong representation of what the band was about.”
The most recent Hooter-related success echoes their beginnings: songwriting. Eric Bazilian wrote the 1996 Joan Osborne hit single, “One of Us,” for which he received a Grammy nomination. But Bazilian is not the only Hooter with a successful side project. Uosikkinen, having gone through a period of substance abuse himself, began speaking to children about the dangers of drugs. He also formed his own record label, Moskee-to Productions, which signed on, among others, Rory Kunkle. Kunkle is the pseudonym of another Hooter, Fran Smith, who replaced bassist Andy King in 1988, when King himself went solo. Eric and Rob both played backup on Ronnie Brandt’s album, Rudy’s Thread and Eric played mandolin on ten songs from Midge Ure’s album, Breathe.
Amore, Antenna Records, 1983.
Nervous Night, Columbia Records, 1985.
One Way Home, Columbia Records, 1987.
Zig Zag, Columbia Records, 1989.
The Hooters Greatest Hits, Colmbia/Sony, Europe, 1992.
Out of Body, MCA Records, 1993.
The Hooters Star Box, Sony, Japan, 1993.
The Hooters Live, MCA Records, 1994.
The Hooters Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, Sony, Europe, 1994.
Hooters-The Definitive Collection, Sony, Europe, 1995.
The Best of the Hooters #1, Sony, Europe, 1995.
We Came to Play, Sony Special Products, 1995.
Hooterization: A Retrospective, Sony/Legacy, 1996.
Billboard, August 6, 1988; January 27, 1990; June 19, 1993.
New York, January 8, 1990.
People, November 11, 1987; January 15, 1990.
Philadelphia, April 1988.
Stereo Review, March 1990.
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