The story behind music legends Hootie & the Blowfish

From their debut release in 1994 until now, Hootie & the Blowfish have endeared fans both young and old with their uplifting hits.

By bfroelich on June 25, 2024
Hootie & the Blowfish performing on stage with "troubadour" in neon behind them
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 04: (L-R) Dean Felber, Jim Sonefeld, Darius Rucker and Mark Bryan of Hootie & the Blowfish perform onstage during Hootie & the Blowfish at The Troubadour on November 04, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Hootie & the Blowfish)


Forming in 1986 with college friends Darius Rucker and Mark Bryan, Hootie & the Blowfish propelled ’90s soft rock culture into the mainstream. In opposition to their grunge counterparts, the band created a distinct sound defined by uplifting lyrics and drifting melodies, resembling a type of jam band. 

Decades later, their music still resonates with old and new fans. Before you gear up to see them at the Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 11, read more about the band’s history and major accomplishments. 

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The college dorm room that started it all

Darius Rucker was a freshman at the University of South Carolina and lived in the dorms. He was about to shower when he noticed the floor was empty, so he belted out “Honesty” by Billy Joel. 

Mark Bryan heard him singing and was impressed enough to ask Rucker if he wanted to start a band with him. They began jamming in the dorm rooms together, playing covers, and impressing other students. 

Soon, the dorm rooms led to dive bars; then, dive bars led to larger venues. The lineup solidified with Dean Felber on bass and Jim Sonefeld on drums. Eventually, the band caught the attention of Atlantic A&R executive Tim Sommer, who signed the band in 1993. 

Cracked Rear View and rise to fame

The band catapulted to fame when “Cracked Rear View” debuted in 1994. “Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry,” and “Only Wanna Be with You” all charted on Billboard’s top 10 in the US and earned them a Grammy for Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist. 

The album has had a slow-burn build-up with audiences in the US. It was certified platinum in January 1995, then rose to 12x platinum one year later, 16x in 1999, and finally up to 21x by May 2019. It is the 19th best-selling album of all time in the country.

The band would go on to release three more full-length albums before their hiatus in 2008: a B-sides album called “Scattered, Smothered and Covered” in honor of their favorite Waffle House and a self-titled album in 2003. 

The band’s cultural impact

Hootie & the Blowfish had an indelible mark on ’90s culture. Their approach to rock was more uplifting than their grunge alternatives, offering audiences a positive listening experience. This made a lasting impact on the music industry, influencing other artists like Sheryl Crow and Dave Matthews Band. 

However, band members did not avoid the hardship associated with fame. Both Darius Rucker and Jim Sonefeld released memoirs detailing their experiences with the band and its impact on their lives. Rucker released “Life’s Too Short: A Memoir” in 2024, and Sonefeld released “Swimming with a Blowfish: Hootie, Healing, and the Ride of a Lifetime” in 2022. 

Hiatus, reunion, and lasting legacy

The band announced an indefinite hiatus in 2008 so Rucker could transition to a solo country music career. He would record five full-length albums to varying success on the country music charts over the years, including a release as recent as 2023. 

In 2019, the band announced a reunion tour with Barenaked Ladies. The “Group Therapy Tour” commemorated the 25th anniversary of “Cracked Rear View.”  They also released “Imperfect Circle” the same year, quelling fans of the band who were aching for new music. 


Hootie & the Blowfish show that music can be enjoyed no matter what year it is released. Their fans range in age from younger to older. Their music gives people a happy sense of nostalgia and joy, like listening to mellow blues on a sunny day. 

Hootie & the Blowfish will be joined by Collective Soul and Edwin McCain. Get your tickets from Live Nation

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