Though Klaus Eichstadt was not a founding member of rock group Ugly Kid
Joe, he was with the group for the bulk of its history, including the
recording of As Ugly as They Wanna Be (1991), the band's debut
Eichstadt was born Dec. 19, 1967, in Redwood City, Calif. He attended
high school with singer Whitfield Crane, who began the band Overdrive in
Isla Vista, a college town at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
With the exception of Crane, none of the original members of Overdrive
ended up in the band when it morphed into Ugly Kid Joe.
Drummer Mark Davis replaced Overdrive's original drummer shortly before
Crane talked Eichstadt into becoming the band's new guitarist. Overdrive
songwriter Eric Phillips was then booted, and guitarist Roger Lahr joined.
Meanwhile, the band changed its name to Suburban Alcoholic White Trash
and then Ugly Kid Joe, a jab at glam-rockers Pretty Boy Floyd, for whom
Ugly Kid Joe were supposed to open at one point.
Eichstadt and Crane began writing most of Ugly Kid Joe's songs, which
were loud rock numbers with irreverent lyrics.
Ugly Kid Joe gigged in California bars until a demo they cut with another
Eichstadt/Crane high-school mate, producer Eric Valentine (Third Eye Blind,
Smash Mouth), interested a number of record companies.
In 1991 Ugly Kid Joe signed with Mercury Records, and bassist Cordell
Crockett joined the band.
The group recorded As Ugly as They Wanna Be, the title being a
spoof on 2 Live Crew's As Nasty as They Wanna Be (1989). The Ugly
Kid Joe EP, thanks to its Beastie Boys-like, cheeky funk-rock, became the
first EP to be certified multiplatinum under the Recording Industry
Association of America's then-new category.
Ugly Kid Joe's first LP was America's Least Wanted (1992), which
contained a hit cover of the late Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle"
excerpt) and the group's other big hit, "Everything About You."
The LP (on which Dave Fortman replaced Lahr) went top-30 on the Billboard
200 albums chart.
The band also contributed "N.I.B." to the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute LP
Nativity in Black.
In 1995 Ugly Kid Joe released the speed-metal/ballads hybrid Menace
to Sobriety, featuring "Oompa," "C.U.S.T." and "Suckerpath."
After Mercury dropped Ugly Kid Joe, the band issued Motel California
(1996) on the independent Castle label. By this point, Shannon Larkin was
the group's drummer, and only Eichstadt and Crane remained from the band's
early days. The LP featured such cuts as "It's a Life," "Rage Against the
Answering Machine" and "Sandwich."
Ugly Kid Joe split without fanfare a year later. Crane joined Life of
Agony for a spell, while Eichstadt worked with a rap group called Broughman.
Other birthdays Sunday: Maurice White (Earth, Wind and Fire), 58; Alvin
Lee (Ten Years After), 55; Zal Yanovsky (Lovin' Spoonful), 55; John McEuen
(Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), 54; Doug Johnson (Loverboy), 42; Christopher
"Limahl" Hamill (Kajagoogoo), 41; Kevin Shepard (Tonic), 31; Phil Ochs,
19401976; and Professor Longhair, 19181980.