Candlebox's Kevin Martin

Metal-pop grungesters Candlebox have had to weather the defection of two drummers

since the band's founding in 1991.

Earlier this year, former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen, who had joined Candlebox for

their 1998 LP, Happy Pills, quit for personal reasons. Krusen was the replacement

for Candlebox's first drummer, Scott Mercado, who left the band in 1997.

Holding Candlebox together is charismatic singer Kevin Martin, who was born 30 years

ago today in Elgin, Ill. Martin began singing as a child and learned to play French horn,

drums, guitar, bass and piano. He honed his talents in various Midwest bands, including

RYPD, Social Smash and Dali's Opera.

In Seattle, Martin met Mercado, with whom he formed Uncle Duke in 1991. The pair then

enlisted guitarist Peter Klett and bassist Bardi Martin (no relation to Kevin) and changed

the band's name to Candlebox, after a phrase in a Midnight Oil song.

An A&R man at Madonna's Maverick Records, Guy Oseary (who also signed Alanis

Morissette), liked Candlebox's demo tape and live act, and signed the group in 1992.

The following year Candlebox issued their Kelly Gray-produced eponymous debut,

which made the top 10 in the United States and eventually moved 4 million copies. The

second single, "Far Behind" (RealAudio

excerpt), backed with a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile," went top 20. Hendrix is

one of Martin's musical heroes. He also counts Robert Plant and Steven Tyler as


Though 1995's Lucy reached #11, critics called it a letdown and it didn't sell as

well as its predecessor. That same year Candlebox covered "Steel and Glass" for the

John Lennon tribute CD Working Class Hero.

Last year Candlebox released their third LP, Happy Pills, which included the

single "It's Alright"

(RealAudio excerpt) and the cathartic "10,000 Horses." The LP was produced by Ron

Nevison, who has worked with both Led Zeppelin and the Who.

"This album is who I am," Martin said of Happy Pills on the band's website

( "The only thing you can worry about is the songs and what you're

trying to portray and what emotion you're trying to put out there. Everybody wants to write

music for the people, but if you worry about that too much you'll get pigeonholed. That's

where change comes in to steer you out of that."

Candlebox are currently touring the United States.

Also born on this day:

Carl Perkins, 1932-1998.