Tanya Donelly

On this day in 1966, singer/guitarist Tanya Donelly was born in Newport, R.I.

She began writing songs as a teen-ager and formed the alternative-rock band

Throwing Muses in 1980 with some high-school pals, including her stepsister

Kristin Hersh. Hersh's bipolar mental disorder gave the Muses an

unpredictable, angst-ridden sound.

The Muses were the first American act to record on the U.K.-based 4AD label.

After a few albums of critically acclaimed music, including 1986's eponymous

album, Donelly quit the band due to many creative disagreements with Hersh.

Donelly did, however, participate in the pop-laden The Real Ramona, the

1991 Muses album.

During the previous year, Donelly had formed the Breeders with Pixies bassist

Kim Deal and released the Pod album. She quit the Breeders quickly to

form her own band, Belly, in 1992, with ex-Muse Fred Abong (bass), Chris

Gorman (drums) and Tom Gorman (guitar).

Having created some of the most challenging music in recent years with her

previous bands, Donelly began to concentrate on more straightforward rock

with dreamy melodies. Belly released a number of EPs, including Slow

Dust (1992), which contained the catchy "Slow Dog," that were successful in

the U.K. In 1993, the full-length Star coincided with alt-rock's rising

popularity and went gold, with "Feed The Tree" receiving

airplay on pop radio stations.

Belly's next album, King (1995), charted high in the U.K., but was a

relative flop in the States despite some good notices. Soon after, Donelly broke

up Belly to go solo, but also suffered a mental breakdown.

At the end of 1996, Donelly released her debut solo EP, Sliding and

Driving. Last year, she released her first full-length solo album, the personal

Lovesongs for Underdogs, which was more techno-oriented than her

previous work. The disc featured drum machines on tracks such as "Lantern."

Donelly also toured briefly.

"I wasn't a big fan of musical democracy when I decided to go solo," Donelly

said last year. "And it was sort of an angry decision. Not angry, but kind-of a

defeated position ... But at this point I'm very comfortable with it, and I've learned

that it's probably the best way for me to go ... I'm excited about the prospect of

playing with whomever I want to for the rest of my life. That just makes me so

happy. To know that in the future I can call up anybody and ask them to come

play with me because I'm not musically married anymore."

Other birthdays: John Maurer (Social Distortion), 37.