Evan Griffith Dando formed The Lemonheads with two high school buddies in late winter '86, in their senior year at Boston's tiny Commonwealth School. A few months later, they spawned what is now one of the most sought-after punk relics of the 80s, the indie EP Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners. Boston-based Taang! Records immediately picked up on The Lemonheads, with three college radio pleasers to follow: the LPs Hate Your Friends (1987), Creator (1988), and Lick (1989). In 1990 Atlantic Records took notice of the massively expanding Lemonheads fanbase in Europe (where they toured in 1989) and America by signing the band and releasing their well-received (in Cambridge, Massachusetts) fourth LP, Lovey.
Even by this time, The Lemonheads lineup had been volatile: more than a dozen different configurations over a period of just five years, all sorts of bit parts and reshuffles, with Dando as the only constant. At one point it got so confusing that an ex-drummer, just a week after getting kicked of the group, answered The Lemonheads' ad to replace himself. By a conservative estimate, the band has had more than ten bass players and at least a dozen drummers over the years.
But out of this primordial chaos came a veritable Golden Age for The Lemonheads. A 1991 tour brought Evan to Australia, where by chance he met songwriter Tom Morgan and future Lemonheads bassist Nic Dalton. Their collaboration made all the difference for the next Atlantic release, It's a Shame About Ray (1992), a concentrated blast of pure pop perfection that clocks in at just under 30 minutes. Thanks to songs such as "Confetti", "My Drug Buddy", "Rudderless", and "Ceiling Fan in My Spoon", Dando hit a whole new audience ("they're getting younger," he confessed to Kathie Lee Gifford at the time).
Atlantic released a smash follow-up, Come on Feel The Lemonheads, in October 1993. The album brought Dando a genuine charting single ("Into your Arms") as well as instant classics such as "Great Big No", "Down About It", "Being Around", and "You Can Take it with You." In winter 1993/1994 Evan Dando was in your living room, thanks to live appearances on the Letterman and Leno late night network TV shows. Inevitably, in Warrington, Pennsylvania, a 20-something named Jeff Fox published the first issue of his backlash 'zine Die Evan Dando, Die.
Two years of brutal touring for The Lemonheads followed, which Evan punctuated with some high-profile personal meltdowns on various continents that caught the imagination of a press ever eager for negative copy. Still The Lemonheads (now with Boston friends John Strohm on guitar and Murph on drums) managed to crank out a defiant 1996 release Car Button Cloth, with some of their best melodic pop/punk to date: "It"s All True", "If I Could Talk I"d Tell You", and "Tenderfoot". After a year promoting the record, Dando announced at the 1997 Reading Festival that he was disbanding The Lemonheads. Atlantic released a Best of The Lemonheads album in 1998, and a lot of geezers surmised that that was that.
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