Everlast became famous in late 1998 with his smash hit "What It's Like," (RealAudio excerpt) from his second solo LP, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues.

The Irish rapper first flirted with pop stardom while fronting the rap group House of Pain, which floundered after hitting #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Jump Around" in 1992.

Everlast was born Erik Schrody 30 years ago today in Valley Stream, N.Y. He relocated to Los Angeles, where he met Danny Boy (born Daniel O'Connor) and Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson) at Taft High School.

After working with rapper Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate, Everlast got a contract with Warner Bros. Records and issued the unsuccessful LP Forever Everlasting (1990). He then formed House of Pain with Danny Boy and DJ Lethal (born Leor DiMant); Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs co-produced House of Pain's self-titled 1992 debut LP on Tommy Boy Records.

In 1993, while Everlast was carrying an unregistered, unloaded pistol in his luggage, he was arrested for gun possession at New York's Kennedy Airport. He was able to plea-bargain the charge down to a community-service sentence.

House of Pain's Same as It Ever Was (1994) went to #12 in the U.S., but its single "On Point" only reached #85. Truth Crushed to Earth Shall Rise Again (1996) was ignored by the media and the public. It seemed that the band's tongue-in-cheek representation of its Irish heritage, while once endearing, grew tiresome. House of Pain's rowdy and immature behavior toward promoters and at concerts didn't help matters.

Last year, Everlast returned to the music world with a vengeance. The solo Whitey Ford, which marked the end of House of Pain, effectively blended hip-hop with folk, blues, rock and pop. But the album was almost Everlast's swan song. During its recording, he suffered cardiac arrest and needed bypass surgery to install an artificial valve implant. Everlast was born with a congenital heart-valve problem, but said he exacerbated his condition by smoking two packs of cigarettes a day while under tremendous stress.

"I went though some real heavy stuff this year," he said, "and all that makes you think about the whole deal."

The album also featured appearances by Sadat X, Bronx Style Bob and Casual; it included tracks such as "Ends," "Get Down," "Hot to Death," "Painkillers," and "Praise the Lord."

Everlast also rapped on a remix of Limp Bizkit's cover of George Michael's "Faith," which was made available as a free, downloadable MP3 file at the band's official website (www.limp-bizkit.com) for a limited time beginning in June.

Also in June, Everlast's cover of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" appeared on the soundtrack to Adam Sandler's film "Big Daddy."

Last month, Everlast performed at Woodstock '99 in Rome, N.Y.

Other birthdays: Johnny Preston, 69; Nona Hendryx, 54; Nigel Griggs (Split Enz), 50; Dennis Elliott (Foreigner), 49; Marvin Isley (Isley Brothers), 46; Patrick Swayze, 45; Ron Strykert (Men at Work), 42; and Dan Peters (Mudhoney), 32.