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Formed: 1985 in Buffalo, New York, USA.
Founded in Buffalo, New York in 1986 by guitarist/vocalist John Rzeznik and bassist/vocalist Robby Takac, the Goo Goo Dolls initially consisted of the two founders and George Tutuska on drums. The band named themselves (the name was picked out from an ad in a True Detective magazine) at the request of a local club owner who refused to let them play under their original name the Sex Maggots. They were originally signed by the short-lived indie label Mercenary Records and they released their self-titled debut album in 1986. A little over a year later, a Los Angeles performance brought the band to the attention of Metal Blade Records, who would later distribute their first wide release.
In their early career, they were often dismissed by critics as derivative of The Replacements. (Rzeznik has stated on many occasions that Paul Westerberg is a major influence on his writing.) While they were embraced by college radio and the local punk scene (playing such venues as CBGB's), especially after the release of their third album, Hold Me Up (1990), by this time, the Goo Goo Dolls had emerged with their own sound which incorporated elements of heavy metal, pop rock, and punk. In 1991, the song "I'm Awake Now" was recorded for the soundtrack of Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, the video for which featured a cameo of Robert Englund in character as Freddy and was played on the major video channels of the time.
Superstar Car Wash was released in 1993 to significant media attention. The critical success and encouraging sales of the last album resulted in a larger budget from Metal Blade. It was recorded in the same studio where Rush had produced multi-platinum albums. The single "We Are the Normal" received a major push toward college and independent radio, while its video was displayed on MTV's 120 Minutes program. "Fallin' Down" made it onto the soundtrack of Pauly Shore's hit film Son In Law.
Their follow-up, A Boy Named Goo, marked the end of the line for drummer George Tutuska, by this time in a personal feud with Rzeznik. A Boy Named Goo is the final recording Tutuska would make with the band. For several months, the album sold modestly, while the band, with newly-hired Texan Mike Malinin on drums, toured rigorously. It was not until the release of their single "Name" from the same album that the Goo Goo Dolls experienced any commercial success. A Boy Named Goo became the first album in Metal Blade history to achieve double platinum status. Their mainstream success, however, was bittersweet as they faced a lengthy legal battle with Metal Blade Records over royalties that were being withheld from the band; hence, the Goos eventually switched to Metal Blade's parent company, Warner Bros. Records. In addition, many of the fans the Goo Goo Dolls had at the time felt they had sold out to garner commercial success. The undisputed success of "Name" marked a fundamental change in the band's sound toward a more polished, commercial direction.
In 1998, "Iris" was released on the City of Angels soundtrack, and the Goos were propelled to stardom, as the song stayed on the Billboard charts at number one for 18 weeks and was nominated for three Grammys that year. The song was also included on their sixth album, Dizzy Up the Girl, which was released that same year and spawned single hits "Slide", "Iris", "Black Balloon", "Broadway" and "Dizzy." The album's slick production and toned-down edge put off many long time fans, feeling the Goo Goo Dolls had abandoned their college/indie rock roots. However, they were replaced with legions of new fans, a result of the band's mainstream exposure. (Most Goo Goo Dolls concert sets feature few, if any, songs the band wrote before 1995, reflecting the band's more current mainstream sound.) Although the lyrics to "Black Balloon" are vague and unclear, as this is an essential aspect of Rzeznik's style of writing, the song, according to the lead-singer himself, regards drug abuse and the emotional consequences of indulging in them. It is widely believed that the song was written for Robby Takac's wife who was once caught up in drug abuse but who has fully recovered today; Rzeznik now refuses to comment on the identity of the song's persona, merely stating that the song is about a close friend who was once a drug addict and is now doing fine. In 2001, the Goos released their first ever compilation CD, What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce. Next, Gutterflower (2002) - with dark lyrical undertones from Rzeznik's divorce - achieved gold certification, producing the hits "Here Is Gone", "Sympathy", and "Big Machine". 2004 saw the release of the Goo's Live in Buffalo: July 4th 2004 which propelled "Give a Little Bit" to #1 on the US Adult Top 40 chart.
In 2006, the Goo Goo Dolls marked their 20th anniversary with their new album Let Love In, which included the studio recording of Supertramp's "Give A Little Bit" as well as other top 10 radio singles "Better Days," "Stay With You," and "Let Love In". With the their third consecutive single ("Let Love In") from the album, the Goo Goo Dolls hit a record 12 Top 10 hits in Hot AC history, beating Matchbox Twenty and Sheryl Crow. The Goo Goo Dolls plan to release another single from Let Love In--"Without You Here," as well as a song from this July's Transformers movie called "Before It's Too Late."
April 13, 1996 and July 4, 2004 were proclaimed "Goo Goo Dolls Day" in their hometown of Buffalo, New York.