Art Alexakis Of Everclear

Today is the 36th birthday of Art Alexakis, founder, lead singer and

guitarist of Everclear, the Portland, Ore.-based progressive rock

trio. Alexakis was born in West Los Angeles and raised in Santa Monica,

Calif.

He became hooked on cocaine as a young man, but the overdose deaths of

his girlfriend and brother in the mid-'80s made him determined to kick

the habit. Moving to San Francisco, Alexakis soon formed the

punk-country band Colorfinger, who released only one album before

disbanding. He then moved to Portland, where he met bassist Craig

Montoya and Scott Cuthbert, Everclear's first drummer. They recorded a

demo for the Tim/Kerr label and hired an independent promoter to mail

the EP to media outlets and distributors. Everclear then added several

songs to the EP and released it as World of Noise in 1993 on Fire

Records. The next year, the group began a non-stop touring schedule,

replaced Cuthbert with Greg Eklund and signed to Capitol Records.

In 1995, Everclear released Sparkle and Fade, which, on the basis of

the songs

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Everclear/Heroin_Girl.ram">"Heroin

Girl" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Santa Monica," quickly established the

band

as alternative-radio favorites. Alexakis, a brilliant songwriter,

specializes in anti-establishment lyrics that caught the ears of many young

people

in their teens and 20s. He also became politically involved and served

as an MTV reporter for the 1996 election. Everclear returned in 1997

with the album So Much For The Afterglow, which dealt with the

pressures of sudden rock fame. Alexakis described it as a "pop record

with rock influences," more melodic than earlier efforts. Everclear

toured in '97 and '98 to support the release and became immersed in

controversy when a fan in Boston was allegedly injured after members of the

New

England Patriots football team allegedly stage-dived during the band's

performance

at the Paradise Theater. The fan accused Alexakis and company of asking

the football players to dive from the stage and sued the band. On a more

positive note, Everclear donated band items in 1997 to the Sweet

Relief Musicians Fund to benefit ailing musicians and played two weeks

of free gigs at Tower Records. In May, the band will perform at the

ninth annual HFStival in Washington, D.C. Alexakis is currently working

on a solo album of acoustic material, inspired by solo shows he

performed before the release of Afterglow, during which he

previewed some of the album's songs in acoustic versions.

Other birthdays: Herbie Hancock, 58; John Kay (Steppenwolf), 54; David

Cassidy (Partridge Family), 48; Alexander Briley (Village People), 47;

Will Sargent (Echo and the Bunnymen), 40; Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), 34 ... Tiny

Tim, 1930-1996.