Today is the birthday of Chris Ballew, vocalist and
bassist for the Presidents of the United States of America. The Presidents'
power-pop has become a favorite of alternative radio in the past few years with
off-the-wall singles like "Lump" and "Peaches." The trio began when Ballew and
guitarist Dave Dederer met in a Seattle grade school; they began jamming
together in the mid-1980s and by 1991 were playing shows around the Seattle
area. Drummer Jason Finn met up with them during this time and was added to the
lineup in 1993.
The Presidents' self-titled debut was originally recorded
for Seattle's PopLlama label, but when they signed with Columbia the record was
remastered and rereleased, in 1995, on the new label. With the power of
infectious hits like "Lump," "Kitty" and "Peaches" the album became a top-10
seller. During their tour the Presidents made a point of playing oddball
venues, including a hot dog stand in Los Angeles, a Chicago bowling alley, and
Mount Rushmore. Their sophomore album, II, was released in late 1996 to
a lukewarm welcome, despite MTV's incessant plugging of the video for "Mach 5."
Other birthdays: Roland Gift (Fine Young Cannibals), Steve Strange, Kylie
Minogue, T-Bone Walker, Mike Heidorn (Son Volt), Roy Crewdson (Freddie & The
Dreamers), Gladys Knight, Billy Vera, John Fogerty, Gary Broker (Procrol
Harum), Larry Blackmon (Cameo), Wendy O. Williams (Plasmatics) and James Bond
creator Ian Fleming. -- Beth Winegarner