Everclear singer Art Alexakis inducted the late pop-rocker Del Shannon into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month.
To some, Alexakis may seem an unlikely choice to induct Shannon. Everclear's sound is heavily influenced by the early '90s grunge explosion led by Nirvana, while Shannon is known for uncomplicated tunes such as the pop classic "Runaway." But a closer listen to Everclear, especially the band's 1997 So Much for the Afterglow, reveals pop underpinnings to much of Alexakis' compositions, which -- like Shannon's -- often deal with loss and abandonment.
Alexakis was born 37 years ago today in West Los Angeles and raised in Santa Monica, Calif. He became a film student and wanted to write screenplays. Eventually, Alexakis fronted the band the Eazy Hoes, and, after battling cocaine dependency, formed the alternative country group Colorfinger in San Francisco.
Colorfinger released an LP on Alexakis' own Shindig label, which went bankrupt. Following the split of Colorfinger, Alexakis moved with his girlfriend to Portland, Ore., where he met bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Scott Cuthbert.
The trio called themselves Everclear and cut an EP, 1993's World of Noise, which was issued on Fire Records. Greg Eklund replaced Cuthbert on drums in 1994. Fire also issued another Everclear EP, White Trash Hell, before the band signed with Capitol Records.
The Capitol executive who signed Everclear had already signed Nirvana to Geffen Records. From their inception Everclear had to deal with comparisons to Nirvana -- these were exacerbated by Alexakis' dyed-blond hair and admitted admiration of Nirvana's late leader, Kurt Cobain.
Sparkle and Fade (1995), featuring "Heroin Girl" and "Santa Monica," was greeted warmly by alternative music fans and critics. The LP sold well, as did its successor, So Much for the Afterglow, the latter containing melodic songs that broadened Everclear's appeal among rock fans. Radio hits such as "Father of Mine" and "One Hit Wonder" (RealAudio excerpt) were the basis for the album's popularity.
Alexakis has been spreading his wings beyond Everclear as the band continues to ready its next LP. He issued his first solo track, "Overwhelming," on the soundtrack to last year's Ben Stiller film "Permanent Midnight." The movie dealt with drug addiction, a subject Alexakis often examines in his lyrics.
He also is working on a solo LP, which he described as "stylistically ... a lot different than the Everclear stuff ... less bombastic, there are more textures and more dynamics. I'm using a lot of technology to make it sound raw and rough."
Among the LP's tracks is "The Annabella Song," which Alexakis wrote for his daughter.
Last year a shoe thrown from the audience reportedly spurred a shoving match between Alexakis and bassist Montoya during a concert in Australia. The pair seemed to have patched things up by the time Everclear began headlining Levi's Sno-Core Tour '99 in February.
Herbie Hancock, 59; John Kay (Steppenwolf), 55; David Cassidy (Partridge Family), 49; Alexander Briley (Village People), 48; Will Sargent (Echo and the Bunnymen), 41; Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), 35 ... Tiny Tim, 1930-1996.