Hootie & the Blowfish is an American rock band that enjoyed widespread popularity in the second half of the 1990s. It was originally formed in 1986 at the University of South Carolina by Darius Rucker, Dean Felber, Jim Sonefeld, and Mark Bryan. The band has recorded seven studio albums to date, and has charted sixteen singles on various Billboard singles charts. Their debut album, Cracked Rear View, was one of the best selling albums of the 1990s, going platinum sixteen times.
Hootie & the Blowfish formed in 1986. The quartet met when they were freshmen at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Mark Bryan heard Darius Rucker singing in the showers of the dorm they shared and was impressed by his vocal ability. Bryan and Rucker began playing cover tunes as The Wolf Brothers; eventually Bryan and Rucker hooked up with Felber, a former high school bandmate of Bryan's, and Jim "Soni" Sonefeld as Hootie & the Blowfish.
The group independently released two cassette demo EPs in 1991 and 1992. In 1993, they pressed 50,000 copies of a self-released EP, Kootchypop, which was named after a reference to female genitalia in a stand-up comedy act by What's Happening co-star Shirley Hemphill. Their mainstream debut album was Cracked Rear View (1994). It was an instant success, ultimately going platinum 16 times in the U.S. and becoming the best-selling album of 1995. The album was propelled by four hits, "Hold My Hand" (U.S. #10), "Let Her Cry" (U.S. #9), "Only Wanna Be With You" (U.S. #6), and "Time" (U.S. #14). In 1995, Hootie and the Blowfish and Bob Dylan reached an out-of-court settlement for the group's unauthorized use of Dylan's lyrics in their song "Only Wanna Be With You." Miami Dolphins' Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino appeared in the band's video for the song "Only Wanna Be With You", along with several other athletes.
The band won the "Best New Artist" award at the 1996 Grammy Awards. Hootie & the Blowfish appeared on MTV Unplugged on the eve of the release of their second album, 1996's Fairweather Johnson. Though sales began promisingly, and it contained the hit single "Old Man and Me" (U.S. #13), the album quickly ran out of steam, having sold four million copies in the U.S. Hootie & the Blowfish has since released three more studio albums: Musical Chairs, Hootie & the Blowfish, and Looking for Lucky. They also released a B-sides and rarities compilation in 2000 entitled Scattered, Smothered and Covered. This album is named in tribute of Waffle House, a popular Southern chain of all-night diners. Specifically, the title refers to an order of hash browns covered with diced onions and melted cheese.
In 1995, Hootie & the Blowfish contributed the song "Hey Hey What Can I Do" to the Encomium tribute album to Led Zeppelin. Their cover of Canadian group 54-40's "I Go Blind", originally released on the soundtrack to the TV series Friends in 1995, did not appear on Cracked Rear View or Fairweather Johnson, but nevertheless became a surprise hit at radio in 1997 after three singles from Fairweather Johnson had been released. Both "Hey Hey What Can I Do" and "I Go Blind" were later released on the collection Scattered, Smothered and Covered.
The band currently has an extensive touring schedule, including an annual New Year's Eve show at the Silverton Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2008, the band started releasing their concerts as downloads through trueAnthem.
The band's name comes from two of frontman Darius Rucker's college choir friends, neither of whom was ever a band member. One, with a round face and glasses, was nicknamed Hootie because of his perceived owl-like appearance. The Blowfish, also got his nickname from his facial appearance, in his case chubby cheeks. Rucker is often mistakenly referred to as Hootie.