South African vocalist/guitarist Dave Matthews formed the Dave Matthews Band in Virginia in the early '90s. Featuring the creative talents of Matthews, Stefan Lessard, LeRoi Moore, Boyd Tinsley, and Carter Beauford, the group presented a more pop-oriented version of the Grateful Dead crossed with traces of jazz, funk, and the worldbeat explorations of Paul Simon and Sting. The band built up a strong word-of-mouth following in the early '90s by touring the country constantly, with special attention paid to college campuses. In addition to amassing a sizable following, their self-released album Remember Two Things sold well for an independent release; soon, they were attracting the attention of major labels. Signing with RCA, the Dave Matthews Band released their major-label debut, Under the Table and Dreaming, in the fall of 1994. By spring of 1995, the record had launched the hit single "What Would You Say" and sold over a million copies, thus setting the stage for an extremely successful career.
A year and a half after the release of Under the Table and Dreaming, the record had sold over four million copies in the U.S. alone. In April of 1996, the Dave Matthews Band released Crash, which entered the charts at number two and quickly went platinum. Throughout 1996, the group toured behind Crash, which reached multi-platinum status and spun off five successful singles. Also in 1996, Matthews launched an attack on bootleggers in conjunction with the Federal Government, targeting stores that were selling semi-legal discs of live performances. The efforts of Matthews, his band, and his management resulted in an unprecedented crackdown on bootleggers in early 1997 -- with nearly all of the major foreign bootlegging companies placed under arrest by the United States -- thereby putting a moratorium on the entire underground industry.
To further combat the bootleggers, Dave Matthews released an official double-disc live album, Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95, in the fall of 1997. It was an unexpected success, debuting at number three on the charts and selling a million copies within the first five months of its release. The live record paved the way for a string of future DMB concert recordings; it also drummed up support for the April 1998 release of Before These Crowded Streets, the group's most ambitious album to date. Another two-disc live effort, Listener Supported, followed a year later. Summer tours also packed the band's schedule during the late '90s, with sold-out shows across the U.S. The new millennium, however, saw the band returning to the studio with Glen Ballard to record a fourth studio album -- Everyday, issued in February 2001. Although popular, it was overshadowed by rumors of a darker album that was recorded with Steve Lillywhite in 2000 but ultimately rejected; the band eventually chose songs from the session, re-recorded several others, and released the results in July 2002 as Busted Stuff. Its debut single, "Where Are You Going," was also featured on the soundtrack to the Adam Sandler flick Mr. Deeds.
In 2003, Matthews released his first solo album, the moody and brooding Some Devil. A "Dave Matthews and Friends" tour followed -- his "friends" being Trey Anastasio, Brady Blade, Tony Hall, Ray Paczkowski, and Tim Reynolds -- and the album's chief single, "Gravedigger," earned Matthews a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. The Dave Matthews Band returned to the road in 2004 and released more live material. They also joined Bruce Springsteen's Vote for Change tour toward the end of the year, just as their mail-order-only DMB Live Trax series debuted. In early 2005, they launched a website that featured progress reports on their next album in the form of video footage, diaries, and soundbites. When the flawed Stand Up finally appeared in May, it was the band's first album of all-new material since 2001's Everyday. Like its three predecessors, Stand Up topped the charts, making DMB the only band other than U2 to score four consecutive number one albums.
Weekend on the Rocks, another live set, followed Stand Up at the end of the year. In 2006, the two-disc compilation The Best of What's Around, Vol. 1 presented one disc of previously released studio material and one of unreleased live recordings. The year 2007 found Matthews and Tim Reynolds touring Europe and America. Work had also begun on a new DMB studio album, but the band temporarily shelved the project during pre-production to focus on touring. They returned to the studio the following year, but LeRoi Moore unfortunately passed away before the album could be completed. The saxophonist had suffered a serious ATV accident in June and ultimately succumbed to his injuries two months later.
All Music Guide