Taking their name from a childhood slang term for a naked woman, the Barenaked Ladies are, in fact, five strapping lads from Scarborough, near Toronto, Canada. They were formed in 1988 by songwriters Steven Page (22 June 1970, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada; guitar/vocals) and Ed Robertson (b. Lloyd Edward Elwyn Robertson, 25 October 1970, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada; guitar/vocals) while they were students. The Buck Naked cassette was released the following year, before brothers Andy Creeggan (b. Andrew Burnett Creeggan, 4 July 1971, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada; keyboards/percussion) and Jim Creeggan (b. James Raymond Creeggan, 12 February 1970, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada; bass/keyboards) were added to the line-up. The Barenaked Lunch cassette followed in 1990 before Tyler Stewart (b. 21 September 1967, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; drums/percussion) joined up. The band set off on an intensive series of club dates; word of their prowess soon spread and their first release, a five-song EP, proved a big hit. They also enjoyed a Canadian Top 20 hit with a cover version of Bruce Cockburns Lovers In A Dangerous Time. Their debut album, 1992s Gordon, subsequently sold more than half a million copies in their native Canada, outselling acts such as U2 and Michael Jackson. Their melodic pop, with its strong harmonies and string-driven acoustics, led to them being unfairly dubbed the Fat Canadian Housemartins. Despite their undeniable debt to the British band, the Barenaked Ladies - who cite the Beach Boys and the Proclaimers among their influences - soon carved out a distinctive sound. Songs such as Be My Yoko Ono and If I Had $1000000 (both from Gordon) were quickly adopted as particular crowd favourites.
The departure of Andy Creeggan to college reduced Barenaked Ladies to a quartet following the release of their second album, 1994s Maybe You Should Drive. Their third album Born On A Pirate Ship (1996) was completed as a quartet, and received a notable boost when the track Shoe Box was featured on the hugely popular US television sitcom Friends. Live, Barenaked Ladies self-deprecating humour, catchy songs and high energy continued to make for a thoroughly entertaining show, captured on 1996s Rock Spectacle. This release featured the bands newest member, keyboard player Kevin Hearn (b. 3 July 1969, Grimsby, Ontario, Canada).
The Barenaked Ladies bounced into the commercial spotlight in 1998 when Stunt entered the US charts at number 3 in July, and continued generating huge sales on the back of Octobers infuriatingly catchy chart-topper, One Week. The follow-up Maroon attempted, with mixed results, to add a touch of levity to Page and Robertsons songwriting formula. The 2003 release Everything To Everyone was more successful, with the band crafting a subtle concept album about the excesses of a celebrity-obsessed world. It was also the bands final release for Reprise Records. The following years Barenaked For The Holidays, the bands first independent release since their early cassettes, featured a mix of traditional seasonal carols and original material. In 2008, hours before the band was to play a children's festival, Page was arrested in upstate New York for possession of cocaine. Page would subsequently announce his exit from the band in February 2009, but the remaining members asserted they would continue to record and perform as Barenaked Ladies.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.