Hootie & The Blowfish perform at "Augusta At Night Presented By Capital One" at SRP Park on April 12, 2019 in North Augusta, South Carolina. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Augusta At Night)

The story of Hootie & the Blowfish began right here in the Carolinas. More specifically, it started in a bathroom. Darius Rucker and Mark Bryan met in Columbia, South Carolina, when they were both freshmen at the University of South Carolina in the mid-1980s. As legend has it, Bryan, a guitar player, heard Rucker singing in the showers of the dorm they shared and was impressed. They teamed up as a two-man cover band and called themselves the Wolf Brothers.

Eventually, Darius Rucker and Mark Bryan brought in bassist Dean Felber, a former high school band mate of Bryan’s, and Brantley Smith, a drummer. In 1986, they adopted the name Hootie & the Blowfish, which was a joining together of nicknames of two of their college friends. Rucker is not now, nor has he ever been, “Hootie.”

Brantley Smith left the group after finishing college to pursue a career in music ministry, but he has made occasional guest appearances with Hootie & the Blowfish. Most notably, he played cello on the band’s MTV Unplugged performance in 1996. Smith was replaced by Jim “Soni” Sonefeld on drums. Rucker, Bryan, Felber, and Sonefeld have been the lineup ever since, even through their 2008-2018 hiatus when Darius went country.

Since 1994, Hootie & the Blowfish have released six studio albums which yielded 16 singles on various Billboard charts. Thirty years later, the band’s debut album, Cracked Rear View, is still their biggest. It was the best-selling album of 1994 and, according to Business Insider, it remains one of the best-selling albums of all time in the United States. My junior year roommate in college played it on a loop!

In 1993, Hootie & the Blowfish recorded a five-song EP called Kootchypop at Reflection Sound Studios (1969-2014) in Charlotte. Two of the songs from that EP would find their way onto the Cracked Rear View album. For this edition of the Throwback Threesome, let’s look back at the band’s earliest videos.

Throwback Threesome: Hootie & The Blowfish

  • Hold My Hand (1994)

    This is the song that truly launched Hootie & the Blowfish into superstardom. “Hold My Hand” was first recorded in 1990 for a five-song cassette the band sold at their shows. The song showed up again on their 1993 EP, Kootchypop. Hootie & the Blowfish recorded it one more time for their 1994 debut album, Cracked Rear View. This time, they had the legendary David Crosby provide backing vocals. Not too shabby. On top of that, “Hold My Hand” won the prize for Best New Artist at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards.

  • Let Her Cry (1994)

    The second single from Cracked Rear View dealt with heavier subject matter than hand holding. “Let Her Cry” is about a man struggling in his marriage to an alcoholic woman. It was the second consecutive top ten hit for Hootie & the Blowfish. According to Songfacts, lead singer Darius Rucker considers “Let Her Cry” to be his first country song.

  • Only Wanna Be with You (1995)

    Originally included on the band’s 1993 EP, Kootchypop, “Only Wanna Be With You” was re-released in July 1995 as the third single from Cracked Rear View and became their biggest hit. Hootie & the Blowfish wrote the song in tribute to their musical hero, Bob Dylan. Unfortunately, he didn’t see it that way. According to Songfacts, Dylan sued the group for unauthorized use of his lyrics and received a large, out-of-court settlement. The sports-themed video features legendary Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, golfer Fred Couples, and various ’90s-era ESPN personalities. Look for former Charlotte Hornets players Alonzo Mourning and Muggsy Bogues, too!

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