Evan Dando was the leader of the pop-punk band the Lemonheads, who were popular on the modern-rock scene of the late-'80s/early-'90s. The photogenic Dando was a favorite of entertainment and society columnists during the band's heyday, which ended in the mid-'90s when Atlantic Records dropped the Lemonheads.
Guitarist and singer/songwriter Evan Griffith Dando was born March 4, 1967, in Boston, to an attorney father and model mother. He formed the pop-punk band the Whelps at Boston's Commonwealth School in 1985 with Jesse Peretz (bass) and Ben Deily (who alternated drums and guitar with Dando).
Upon graduation, they issued 1,000 copies of an EP, All the Way to the Cleaners, on the Taang! Label, which had just been started by DJ Curtis W. Casella. Changing their name to the Lemonheads, the group with various members recorded three indie LPs: Hate Your Friends (1987), Creator (1988), featuring Blake Babies' drummer John Strohm and a take on serial killer Charles Manson's "Your Home Is Where You're Happy," and Lick (1989), including a cover of the Suzanne Vega hit "Luka."
The Lemonheads amassed a cult following, which helped them sign with Atlantic Records in 1990. Their first major-label release, Lovey, mixed pop, rock and folk and featured former Blake Babies bassist Juliana Hatfield, with whom Dando had worked on a few Blake Babies albums.
Dando then broke up the Lemonheads and gigged in Australia. The band reassembled a few times with different lineups before Dando, drummer David Ryan and bassist Nic Dalton released It's a Shame About Ray (1992). The title cut charted briefly in the UK and became a college radio hit in the U.S.
In 1993 the Lemonheads' cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" went top 20 in the UK and was featured in the 25th-anniversary video edition of "The Graduate," the film in which the original version of the song was used. That year the band contributed "Frying Pan" to Sweet Relief, a various-artists benefit LP for singer/songwriter Victoria Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
Dando was at the height of his celebrity when the Lemonheads issued Come On Feel the Lemonheads (1993), which went top-five in the UK and sold well in the U.S. It featured "It's About Time," "Into Your Arms," "The Great Big No" and "Big Gay Heart."
The Lemonheads, with a roster so unstable that they were eventually considered Dando's backing band, toured the U.S in 1994. That year, Dando contributed "For Shame of Doing Wrong," with Syd Straw, to the Richard Thompson tribute LP, Beat the Retreat, and in 1995 he offered "The Ballad of El' Goodo" to the soundtrack of "Empire Records." But as fans clamored for a new Lemonheads LP, Dando battled drug addiction.
The last Lemonheads' album, Car Button Cloth (1996), was a more mellow effort and only hit #130 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It included "Break Me" (RealAudio excerpt) and "It's All True."
After the band was dropped by Atlantic, Dando began gigging solo. In 1998 Atlantic issued The Best of the Lemonheads, and Dando began recording. Last year, his management reported that he was completing an LP in Australia, despite not having signed with a label.
In 1994 Dando made his acting debut in "Reality Bites." The following year, he starred with Liv Tyler in "Heavy."
Other birthdays on Saturday: Miriam Makeba, 68; Eric Allan Dale (Foundations), 64; Bobby Womack, 56; Chris Squire (Yes), 52; Shakin' Stevens, 52; Chris Rea, 49; Boon Gould (Level 42), 45; Jason Newsted (Metallica), 37; Paul Bostaph (Slayer), 35; Patrick Hannan (Sundays), 34; Grand Puba Maxwell (Brand Nubian, Grand Puba), 34; Fergal Lawler (Cranberries), 29; and Jeremiah Green (Modest Mouse), 23.