Former Dinosaur Jr frontman J Mascis was born today in 1965 in Amherst, Mass. As
the band's singer and guitarist, Mascis' grungy guitar-playing and Neil
Young-esque, high-pitched vocals helped to pave the way for the "Seattle Sound"
explosion in the early '90s. The group formed in 1983 when Mascis' hardcore
group Deep Wound broke up. Mascis, who was playing drums at the time, former
Deep Wound bassist Lou Barlow and All White Jury drummer Patrick Murphy joined
together to form Dinosaur, with Mascis taking on guitar and vocal duties. 1985
brought a self-titled indie release, and 1987 saw the band being signed by West
Coast indie label SST and releasing You're Living All Over Me. That same
year, the group added the "Jr" to their name after being sued by a group named
Dinosaur that consisted of former members of Jefferson Airplane and Country Joe
and the Fish. "Freak Scene" was an underground hit in 1988, and Bug soon
followed. Barlow was the first to open the band's revolving door of bassists,
leaving the group soon after the release of Bug and going on to form
indie-rock favorites Sebadoh. The Screaming Trees' Van Connor and Gumball's Don
Flemming are among the many people to have walked through that door since
Dinosaur Jr took on a popular Cure song on 1989's Just Like Heaven EP and
were rewarded with a new round of radio play and more exposure. 1991's Green
Mind was the group's major-label debut and featured Mascis performing just
about every part on the album. 1992 brought the more permanent addition of
bassist Mike Johnson and the release of an EP entitled Whatever's Cool with
Me. 1993's Where You Been hit #50 on the pop charts and brought the
group its widest audience and highest critical acclaim, which in turn allowed
the group to tour with the Lollapalooza festival that summer and contribute
"Turnip Farm" to the massively successful Reality Bites Soundtrack.
1994's Without A Sound hit #44 on the pop charts and earned the group
even more critical praise. In March of this year, Hand It Over was
released to a warm response from the critics but no response from the public.
At the end of a brief tour to support the album, the group discovered that they
no longer had a record label and decided to call it a day. Mascis is reportedly
gearing up to work on a solo project.
Other birthdays: Chad Stuart (Chad and Jeremy), 54; Chris Kefford (the Move),
51; Ralph Tavares (Tavares), 49; Jessica Cleaves (Friends of Distinction), 49;
Jack Hues (Wang Chung), 45; and Geoff Deane (Modern Romance), 43.