You Say It's Your Birthday: Sam Llanas of the BoDeans

Today is the 37th birthday of Sam Llanas, guitarist and vocalist for

roots-rockers the BoDeans. The BoDeans -- perhaps best-known for performing the

theme to the TV show "Party of Five" -- combined the country-rock of the

Rolling Stones with the energy of the Ramones and almost single-handedly

kept the roots-rock tradition alive in the mid- to late '80s. As a result, the BoDeans influenced such bands as Wilco, Son Volt and the Jayhawks. Llanas was born and raised in Waukesha, Wis., where he met fellow singer/guitarist Kurt Neumann while the

two were still in high school. With the addition of Bob Griffin on bass

and Guy Hoffman on drums, the quartet named themselves the BoDeans and

signed to Slash Records in 1986.

Later that year, they released Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, the title of which

was lifted from the lyrics of the Rolling Stones' "Shattered." The

album's western-rock sound was a big hit with critics and earned the group

a strong cult audience.

When Hoffman left the group in 1988, it was the first push on the revolving

door for BoDeans drummers. That same year, the BoDeans released Outside

Looking In, a solid follow-up album that maintained their positive

critical reputation but didn't spawn any hits. 1989's Home and 1991's

Black and White continued in the same vein, but 1993's Go Slow

Down marked a return to the basic rock elements that had brought them

critical acclaim in the first place. Though not a smashing success at

first, the album's first track, "Closer to Free," would become the theme to

the television show "Party of Five" two-and-a-half years after its release.

The BoDeans continue to record, having released Joe Dirt Car in 1995

and Blend in 1997.

Other birthdays: Tom Rush, 57; Aldopho "Fito" de la Parra (Canned Heat), 52; and Keith O'Neil (Cast), 29.