You Say It's Your Birthday: Hootie and the Blowfish's Darius Rucker

Today is the birthday of Darius Rucker, frontman for

Hootie and the Blowfish, who was born in Charleston, South Carolina. Although

Hootie was founded around 1986, the band didn't rise to fame until 1995 with

their brand of wholesome folk-pop. Rucker grew up in a close-knit family,

listening to R&B and learning to play guitar. After high school he hooked up

with Hootie's other members -- Mark Bryan, Everett Felber and James "Soni"

Sonefeld -- and the band was born.

Hootie and the Blowfish (named after a

friend; Rucker is tired of fans assuming he is "Hootie") released a

self-titled EP in 1991 and contributed a track to Please No Profanity.

They recorded a second EP, Kootchypop in 1993 before inking a deal with

Atlantic records for Cracked Rear View. The album sold phenomenally--in

the many, many millions--supported by the success of singles like "Time" and

"Let Her Cry."

Yet from the beginning, critics blasted the band's

take-no-chances musical style and non threatening lyrics.

Even so, Hootie

continued to rise in fame, donating tracks to the Friends soundtrack as

well as a watery cover of "Hey Hey What Can I Do?" for the 1995 Led Zeppelin

tribute album Encomium. In 1996 they released Fairweather

Johnson, which included singles such as "Tucker's Town" and which was a

commercial disappointment. Rucker also dueted with Nanci Griffith on a version

of her "Gulf Coast Highway," which appears on her latest record, Blue Roses

From the Moons.

Other birhdays: the late Richie Valens, the late Mary

Wells, Danny Kirwan (Fleetwood Mac), Paul Thompson (Roxy Music), Danny Klein

(former J.Geils drummer), Magic Dick (Richard Salwitz/ J. Geils Band), Peter

"Overend" Watts (Mott The Hoople), Stevie Wonder, Paul Thompson (Roxy Music),

actress Bea Arthur (Golden Girls), actor Harvey Keitel and actress Julianne

Phillips. -- Beth Winegarner