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30 years ago, the four original members of Blues Traveler, who had known each other since their early teens -- John Popper, Chandler Kinchla, the late Bobby Sheehan and Brendan Hill -- gathered in the basement of their drummer's parents' Princeton, NJ, home and the seeds were planted for a band who has released a total of 13 studio albums, four of which have gone gold, three platinum and one six-times platinum. Over the course of its illustrious career, Blues Traveler has sold more than 10 million combined units worldwide, played over 2,000 live shows in front of more than 30 million people, and, in "Run-Around," had the longest-charting radio single in Billboard history, which earned them a Grammy® for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Their movie credits include Blues Brothers 2000, Kingpin, Wildflowers and others. A television favorite, they have been featured on Saturday Night Live, Austin City Limits, VH1's Behind the Music and they hold the record for the most appearances of any artist on The Late Show with David Letterman.
"We started this whole adventure as a team," says Brendan Hill. "We've taken every step of this as a group together, from the basement to moving to New York, getting signed, hiring a manager, to achieving all our goals."
From the suburbs of New Jersey, Blues Traveler moved to New York in the late '80s, where they became part of a jam-band scene that packed clubs like Nightingale's, McGoverns and Kenny's Castaways, where they would share the bill with Spin Doctors and Phish. Represented early on by Bill Graham and son David, Blues Traveler's live reputation led to a deal with A&M Records, for whom they released their self-titled debut, which produced songs like the hit "But Anyway," "Gina" and "100 Years," eventually going gold simultaneously with the album Four. The following year came Travelers & Thieves, also now gold, with songs like "What's For Breakfast." The subsequent gold release Save His Soul followed in 1993, with songs like "N.Y. Prophesie," whose lyrics were actually co-written by John's Hungarian father, Robert. The recording, and resulting tour, was marked by Popper having to sing from a wheelchair, the result of a motorcycle accident that almost took his life and destroyed the band, which led to a deeper investment from A&M to help support the band during a mettle-testing period in their career.
The band's Four, released in 1994, was a watershed moment for the group, eventually selling more than six million albums on the strength of the singles "Run-Around" and "Hook."
"The fact we had that success in the middle of our career, rather than early on, was beneficial because it opened doors to a whole new audience that we continue to court today," says Hill.
Still alive and kicking, Blues Traveler prepares for the next 25 years, with a comprehensive overview of the first, in one deluxe package.