4 Non Blondes Biography

San Francisco quartet who formed in 1989, making a slow rise through the traditional round of bar shows and club dates, going on to win a Best Unsigned Band award and then a prestigious support date to Primus. In 1993, their commercial arrival corresponded to that of fellow San Franciscans the Spin Doctors, achieving a surprise UK number 2 single (‘What’s Up’) and a Top 10 debut album, Bigger, Better, Faster, More!, produced by Prince associate David Tickle. Selling half a million copies in the USA where it was originally released in 1992, it also topped charts in Germany and Sweden. The band comprised the strong visual and almost hectoring vocal presence of Linda Perry alongside Christa Hillhouse (bass), Roger Rocha (guitar) and Dawn Richardson (drums). Rocha, the grandson of abstract expressionist Clyfford Still and an art school veteran, stepped in to replace original incumbent Shanna Hall during sessions for the debut album. Richardson, a trained percussionist with a degree from California State University and several years’ experience in jazz and salsa bands, replaced Wanda Day shortly before pre-production. Hillhouse and Perry began the band together, having to cancel their first ever rehearsal on 7 October 1989 when an earthquake hit the Bay Area. Hillhouse had first spotted Perry playing an acoustic set, and the latter’s songs quickly became the dominant force within 4 Non Blondes, including ‘Spaceman’, the follow-up to ‘What’s Up’. However, suspicions were raised in the press that 4 Non Blondes represented a corporate chart raid, providing designer grunge for the post- Nirvana and Lemonheads (to whose label, Interscope/ Atlantic Records, they signed) generation. Support slots to Prince and Neil Young did little to dispel these assumptions, and Perry broke up the band to pursue a solo career and work as a songwriter (most notably, contributing several tracks to US singer Pink’s hit album M!ssundazstood, and providing Christina Aguilera with her transatlantic hit single ‘Beautiful’). However, there was an undeniable infectious simplicity to ‘What’s Up’ that indelibly marked it as one of the records of 1993.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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