Kicking up a ruckus on the more garage-oriented side of the 1980s' roots rock boom, the Del Fuegos were a four-piece band from Boston who (at least for a time) won critical favor and a loyal cult following at home and on the road for their passionate, no-frills style. Formed in 1980, the Del Fuegos consisted of guitarist and singer Dan Zanes, his brother Warren Zanes on guitar, bassist Tom Lloyd, and drummer Steve Morrell. Steady gigging on the Boston club circuit won the band a potent local reputation, which began to spread along the East Coast with the band's first few low-budget tours. While the Del Fuegos began recording an album for legendary local label Ace of Hearts Records, in 1984 the famed Los Angeles indie Slash Records stepped in and signed them, releasing their first album, The Longest Day, in the fall of that year. (By this time, Steve Morrell had parted ways with the band, and former Embarrassment percussionist Woody Giessmann had taken over the drum kit.) One of the first albums produced by former Ronnie Montrose keyboard man Mitchell Froom, The Longest Day's mixture of attitude, guitar firepower, and heart-on-the-sleeve emotion clicked with both critics and fans, and the Del Fuegos seemed poised for a commercial breakthrough with their second album, 1985's Boston, Mass.
While "Don't Run Wild" and "I Still Want You" earned some radio and MTV airplay and the album received rave reviews, it wasn't the hit some were hoping for, and the more self-consciously hip members of the music world began to turn their backs on the band after it appeared in a widely seen beer commercial. The band began reaching for a more ambitious sound and wider musical range on its third album, but 1987's Stand Up received harsh reviews and little support from fans, despite the Del Fuegos' appearance on an extended tour with noted fan Tom Petty (who also guested on Stand Up), in which the group shared the opening slot with the Replacements. After Stand Up's disappointing reception, Woody Giessmann and Warren Zanes both quit the Del Fuegos, and the band was dropped by Slash. In 1989, Dan Zanes and Tom Lloyd decided to give the band another chance, bringing aboard guitarist Adam Roth and drummer Joe Donnelly and cutting a new album, Smoking in the Fields, but while critics were kinder to the new set than Stand Up, the album was a commercial bust, and within a year the Del Fuegos were history. Dan Zanes went on to a solo career and in time found success with a series of acclaimed children's albums, while Warren Zanes returned to music in 2002 after many years in academia with a fine solo album, Memory Girls. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi