Barenaked Ladies life and biography

Barenaked Ladies picture, image, poster

Barenaked Ladies biography

Date of birth : -
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
Nationality : Canadian
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2012-04-10
Credited as : alternative rock band, Hits from Yesterday & the Day Before, The Big Bang Theory theme

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Barenaked Ladies (often abbreviated BNL or occasionally BnL) is a Canadian alternative rock band. The band is currently composed of Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, and Tyler Stewart. Barenaked Ladies formed in 1988 in Scarborough, Ontario, then a suburban municipality outside the City of Toronto.They are best known for their hit singles, "One Week", "The Old Apartment", "Pinch Me", "If I Had $1000000", "Brian Wilson"; as well as the theme for the situation comedy "The Big Bang Theory" .

Canada's Barenaked Ladies developed a rabid following in Canada for nearly a decade before achieving mainstream success in the United States. Though the all-male and usually fully dressed band established themselves on their debut album as a "wacky" pop act, they have found their reputation for rock comedy something of an impediment as they have matured. Yet their well-crafted, harmonious records and energetic live shows converted many skeptics. "Their folk-rock-based style encompasses everything from alternative rock to harmony-laced pop to jazzy swing," wrote John Roos in the Los Angeles Times, "and is built on solid musicianship, smart lyricism and the distinctively creamy, colorful vocals of Steven Page." Page, like guitarist and fellow co-founder Ed Robertson, told Billboard's Timothy White that the pop form suited his purposes perfectly. "I like to write pop to fool people with the hooks," he noted, "but inside, I hide all the sweetness, darkness, and musicianship found in the grandest themes of a great mythic rock song. For me, pop is a tight, strategic little package that's second to none."

Barenaked Ladies began as a duo in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Ontario. The town was home to Page and Robertson, who met in high school and became an acoustic act in the late 1980s. Influenced by classic melodic pop and the New Wave style of rock that was the precursor to "alternative" music, Page and Robertson began developing their offbeat, folky sound. They came up with their name while bored at a concert by legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan; laughing themselves sore, they came up with increasingly outrageous band names. "Barenaked Ladies" was intended to convey "what we called [naked women] when we were eight or nine years old and we were frightened and excited and totally naive about the whole situation," Page told Throwrug. Soon Page and Robertson found themselves touring college campuses, where the experience of warming up for a comedy troupe sharpened their humorous between-song patter. "People came expecting to see a comedy show," Page told the Los Angeles Times, and as a result Barenaked Ladies "found a lot of adversity in the audience. We started [the funny patter] to make ourselves more comfortable on stage."

Joined by brothers Jim and Andrew Creegan on bass and keyboards, respectively, and drummer Tyler Stewart, Barenaked Ladies coalesced into a tight musical unit. Their comedic ad-libs and tuneful, quirky songs endeared them to the growing legion of alternative rock fans in the Toronto-area scene. As a result, the band's self-released debut EP became the first independent record to achieve gold sales certification in Canada. The EP featured the single "Be My Yoko Ono," a typically playful romantic plea to the wife of Beatle John Lennon. The success of this recording was not lost on the major labels; Sire/Reprise signed the band and in 1992 released their full-length debut, Gordon.

In addition to recapping "Yoko Ono," Gordon contains additional madcap pop songs stuffed with cultural references, including "Brian Wilson," about the troubled leader of pop icons the Beach Boys, and "Grade 9," a frantic ska number in which the band admits its fondness for 1980s synth-rockers Duran Duran while throwing in quotes from songs by Canadian progressive rockers Rush. A sensation in Canada, Gordon hit the platinum mark in that country in a little more than a week, dominated the album charts for two months, and remained a chart presence for most of 1992, ultimately scoring four hit singles. Barenaked Ladies were named Group of the Year at the Juno Awards, Canada's version of the Grammys, and collected a mountain of adoring press clips.

In America, Gordon failed to rise above cult status. Both the band and their label were unpleasantly surprised, but the band toured relentlessly and continued to charm audiences worldwide. Their professionalism was such that Robertson played a show in Vancouver shortly after hearing of his brother's death in a motorcycle accident. "We're a pretty great team," Page told Mike Boehm of the Los Angeles Times, adding that the Vancouver show "is one of those things that made us realize that." Despite his grief, Robertson "pulled it off like a total pro," Page added. "I don't think anyone in the audience noticed."

Barenaked Ladies returned with 1994's Maybe You Should Drive, a slightly more serious album. Produced by Ben Mink--best known as k.d. lang's producer-collaborator--Drive showcased the band's increasing sophistication and depth, both musically and thematically. Due to the new "Adult Album Alternative" radio format, which helped such artists as Hootie and the Blowfish, Counting Crows, and The Cranberries achieve mainstream status, the album's offbeat, romantic singles "Jane" and "Alternative Girlfriend" earned some rotation. Despite some success, the strain of constant touring led Andy Creegan to leave the band. Initially, Page told Los Angeles Times writer Roos, "we thought, 'What are we gonna do now--we're only four-fifths of a band?' But once we realized we could actually be four-fourths of a band, then everyone had a better chance of stretching out. I think we've become more focused, and now that we're a quartet, there's more space to be heard and it's easier for everyone to have some input." The band took further solace in the fact that they appeared as characters in the DC comic book "Anima."

Fired up by realizations of their growing popularity, Barenaked Ladies headed into the studio and emerged with the ambitious Born on a Pirate Ship. In addition to documenting the group's continued maturation--especially their increasingly focused songwriting and intricate, close harmonies--the 1996 disc was released in an "enhanced" format for CD-ROM, and contained audio and video samples and a bevy of interactive features. Another enhanced CD, Shoe Box, was released the same year. Page told Roos that this format was pushed by the band's management. "Personally, I'm into the whole cyber thing," he added. Entertainment Weekly praised the group's "delightful harmonies" as well as the creative design of Shoe Box, which it dubbed "a spirited and kooky romp."

Barenaked Ladies live shows have turned into comedic rituals. Longtime fans, for example, hurl Kraft macaroni at the stage during the song "If I Had $1,000,000," in which the Ladies express their admiration for the dinner of champions. Other audience-participation incidents have become legendary. "We did a show in Ontario, a big arena show, thousands and thousands of people there," Robertson recalled in Art & Performance. "Late in the set, a sock landed on the stage. I said something like, great, [alternative superstars] Pearl Jam get ladies' underwear and we get a sports sock. So Tyler was playing and he says, 'I want to see all your socks, give me all your socks.' Before I could say anything--Boom," the band was inundated with socks, "and it just f***ing reeked."

Barenaked Ladies received an unexpected break in the United States when they met actor Jason Priestly. Robertson explained the meeting to Entertainment Weekly, "We just started seeing [Priestly] at our shows ... our record-company person came back and said 'Jason Priestly wants to come back and say hi.' We said, 'Of course.'" Priestly got them a guest spot on Beverly Hills, 90210, and the Ladies saw a huge spike in record sales in the weeks following their appearance. They received some radio play with the single "This Old Apartment," especially in border cities like Detroit and Buffalo, where radio stations cater to both American and Canadian listeners. Priestly went on to direct the video for "This Old Apartment" and a documentary entitled Barenaked in America, released in 1999.

Tragedy struck the group in early 1997 when keyboardist Kevin Hearn was diagnosed with leukemia. Hearn took six months off for treatment, but he was back with the Barenaked Ladies by autumn of that year, following a successful bone marrow transplant from his brother. Manager Terry McBride was hired in 1997, and the Barenaked Ladies began touring relentlessly, at McBride's suggestion, to build their fan base in the United States. McBride's strategy of constant touring and belief in word-of-mouth exposure helped propel fellow Canadian Sarah McLachlan to fame. Maclean's revealed McBride's plan, which "involves building an audience in each city piece by piece." As he told the magazine, "Every time you come back, you're bigger than the last time. You've got more believers. It's incredibly hard work, but I won't take on an act unless they're willing to do this." And the Barenaked Ladies were. They devoted at least eight months out of the year to touring, including a stint with the H.O.R.D.E. festival, and built a considerable fan base that year.

The Ladies released Stunt in 1998, which was hailed by Entertainment Weekly as "a seamless collection of well-crafted folk pop that showcases their witty lyrics and gentle humor." The lead track off the album, "One Week," became a smash hit in the United States and Canada, and the Ladies became staples both on the radio and on MTV. Stunt went four-times platinum within a year, and this popularity led to increased interest in the Ladies' older catalogue. "This Old Apartment" hit number one on the Billboard charts, and two songs off 1992's Gordon, "Brian Wilson" and "If I Had $1,000,000," became radio favorites. They received three Juno Awards in 1999 for Best Group, Best Pop Album for Stunt, and Best Single for "One Week," and a Grammy Award nomination. "One Week" was featured in a Mitsubishi Lancer commercial a year later, bringing the Ladies even more fans, including some overseas and in Australia.

The success of the Barenaked Ladies shows no signs of waning. Their sixth studio album, Maroon, went platinum in the United States and won two Juno Awards, and they continue to sell out amphitheaters in both Canada and the United States. A greatest hits CD, Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits, was released in 2001 and was certified gold in the following months. Despite all of their fame and fortune, the Ladies are down-to-earth men with families and children who enjoy their music as much as the rest of the world. Maclean's provided a backstage glimpse into the Ladies lifestyle: "A blue bedspread is laid out on a patch of grass so that Robertson's wife ... and their two young children can hang out with Page's spouse ... and their two little sons." Stewart commented on their atypical-for-superstars ways, "We're all pretty good boys when it comes right down to it. We were all raised properly."

The band's next album was Barenaked for the Holidays, which was released on October 5, 2004. It was their first independent record since The Yellow Tape, as well the first album recorded at Steven Page's then-recently completed studio at his farmhouse called Fresh Baked Woods. The band created the record label Desperation Records for this album. The label has been used for all releases since. Currently, the label is just a title used to release the band's own material, and the band is not looking to sign outside artists.

On May 6, 2008, the band released an album of original material aimed at children entitled Snacktime!. The album features the artwork by Kevin Hearn in its liner notes, which is also available in the form of a hardcover book with the CD included. The album was promoted with a series of television appearances and in-store appearances at bookstores in the north-eastern and west coasts of the United States, as well as Toronto.

In July 2008, the band chose to cancel scheduled appearances at several Disney Music Block Party concerts following Page's arrest on allegations of cocaine possession. In August, Robertson crashed his single-engine plane (without casualty), and in December, his mother died. Band members made several comments about how the events of the year marred their celebration of the band's 20th anniversary (October 1, 2008).

On February 24, 2009, Barenaked Ladies and Steven Page separately announced that Page had left the band "[by] mutual agreement." The remaining members continued as a quartet while Page pursued solo projects including theatrical opportunities. In July, it was announced the band had left Nettwerk management and had hired the newly merged management firm CAM 8.

The band released a new greatest hits album, titled Hits from Yesterday & the Day Before through Rhino Entertainment (a division of their former parent-label, Warner Music Group) on September 27, 2011. Another new album, titled Stop Us If You've Heard This One Before, which will contain rarities and never-before-heard songs, was planned to be released later in 2011. It is now set to be released May 8, 2012.

Discography:
-Gordon (1992)
-Maybe You Should Drive (1994)
-Born on a Pirate Ship (1996)
-Rock Spectacle (1996)
-Stunt (1998)
-Maroon (2000)
-Everything to Everyone (2003)
-Barenaked for the Holidays (2004)
-Barenaked Ladies Are Me (2006)
-Barenaked Ladies Are Men (2007)
-Snacktime! (2008)
-All in Good Time (2010)

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