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Group Members: Matt Malley
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With their angst-filled hybrid of Van Morrison, the Band, and R.E.M., Counting Crows became an overnight sensation in 1994. Only a year earlier, the band was a group of unknown musicians, filling in for the absent Van Morrison at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony; they were introduced by an enthusiastic Robbie Robertson. Early in 1993, the band recorded their debut album, August and Everything After, with T-Bone Burnett. Released in the fall, it was a dark and somber record, driven by the morose lyrics and expressive vocals of Adam Duritz. The only up-tempo song, "Mr. Jones," became their ticket to stardom, and Counting Crows enjoyed a significant amount of success throughout the '90s and beyond.
What made Counting Crows unique was how they were able to balance Duritz's tortured lyrics with the sound of the late '60s and early '70s; it made them one of the few alternative bands to appeal to listeners who thought that rock & roll died in 1972. Recovering the Satellites followed in 1996, and "A Long December" was a Top 10 hit on both the Modern Rock and Adult Top 40 charts. The band issued the two-disc Across a Wire: Live in New York in 1998, and the following year saw the release of Counting Crows' third studio album, This Desert Life. In the midst of recording and collaborating with Ryan Adams on his sophomore album, Gold, Duritz joined his band in the studio as well. The fruit of those sessions was the Steve Lillywhite-produced fourth album, Hard Candy. The next year saw the release of the best-of Films About Ghosts, and in 2004 Counting Crows reminded fans of their ability to write a hit single with "Accidentally in Love," which appeared on the Shrek 2 soundtrack. Two years later, New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall, recorded from a show on February 6, 2003, was made available to the public. In 2008 the band issued Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, a concept record divided into two halves; the more rowdy, upbeat rock of Saturday night soundtracks and the mellow alt-country side of Sunday morning hangovers.
In 2009 the band parted ways with their longtime major label home Geffen Records, but continued to tour and write new material as feverishly as ever. Duritz struggled with mental problems and prescription drug addiction following the split with Geffen, working on solo material which he released in part online. 2011 saw the release of August and Everything After: Live at Town Hall, the band's third official live album, and in 2012 the band offered up Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation), a collection of cover songs to tide fans over until the release of an album of new material.
Counting Crows is an American rock band from Berkeley, California, formed in 1991. The band consists of Adam Duritz (lead vocals, piano), David Bryson (guitar), Charlie Gillingham (accordion, keyboards), Dan Vickrey (lead guitar), David Immerglück (guitar, banjo, mandolin), Jim Bogios (drums) and Millard Powers (bass).
Counting Crows gained popularity following the release of its debut album, August and Everything After (1993), which featured the hit single "Mr. Jones". They have sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and received a 2004 Academy Award nomination for their song "Accidentally in Love", which was included in the film Shrek 2.
The band's influences include Van Morrison, R.E.M., Mike + The Mechanics, Nirvana, Bob Dylan, and The Band.
Singer Adam Duritz (former member of the San Francisco Bay Area band The Himalayans) and producer/guitarist David Bryson formed Counting Crows in San Francisco in 1991. Counting Crows began as an acoustic duo, playing gigs in and around Berkeley and San Francisco. Another friend, guitarist David Immerglück, played with them from time to time, though he was not an official member of the group, and experimented with other musicians in the area. As the emerging band recorded some demos, and as other musicians joined the duo to make a full band, Immerglück recorded with the band on some of the songs for their first album. He declined joining the band at the time, because of his membership in two other locally popular bands, Monks of Doom and Camper Van Beethoven. By 1993, the band had grown to a stable lineup of Duritz as vocalist, occasional pianist, and primary songwriter, Bryson on guitar, Matt Malley playing bass guitar, Charlie Gillingham on keyboards, and Steve Bowman as drummer, and the band was a regular in the Bay Area scene. The same year, the band signed to Geffen Records. On January 16, 1993, the band, still relatively unknown, filled in for Van Morrison at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, and was introduced by an enthusiastic Robbie Robertson. At the ceremony, they played a cover of Van Morrison's "Caravan".
Before signing to Geffen, the band recorded demo versions of a number of songs, known as the 'Flying Demos'. These later surfaced among the Counting Crows fanbase. Tracks include "Rain King", "Omaha", "Anna Begins", "Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)", "Shallow Days", "Love and Addiction", "Mr. Jones", "Round Here", "40 Years", "Margery Dreams of Horses", "Bulldog", "Lightning", and "We're Only Love". Some songs from the tape later resurfaced (in reworked versions) on the band's debut album August and Everything After.
Origin of the name 
The band took its name from a divination rhyme about the crow, heard by Duritz in the film Signs of Life. The traditional British rhyme begins the third verse (around the 2:07 mark) of the song "A Murder of One" on the album August and Everything After : "Well I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow / Casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there, counting crows / One for sorrow, two for joy / Three for girls and four for boys / Five for silver, six for gold / Seven for a secret never to be told."
August and Everything After 
From the beginning, Counting Crows focused on live performances. The band's debut album August and Everything After, produced by T-Bone Burnett, was released in late 1993. The band toured extensively in 1993 and 1994, both as headliners and in supporting roles with other artists, including Cracker, the Cranberries, Suede, Bob Dylan, Los Lobos, Jellyfish, and Midnight Oil. The first single, "Mr. Jones," refers to The Himalayans' bassist, who was Duritz's childhood friend, Marty Jones, and Kenney Dale Johnson, the drummer of Silvertone, Chris Isaak's band, describing the desire of working musicians to make it big and the fantasies they entertain about what this might bring. Duritz sang the song in fun, enjoying the fantasy of making it big. However, he did not realize that just months later, in December 1993, MTV would begin playing the video for the song. It was an unexpected hit song, drawing massive radio play and launching the band into stardom. August and Everything After became the fastest-selling album since Nirvana's Nevermind. With the turbo charge of their first single propelling the band forward, and positive reviews from Rolling Stone Magazine and other publications, it was decided that the band could use another guitarist, and Dan Vickrey, another Bay Area musician was offered the role as lead guitarist, singing backing vocals. The harmonies within the band drew praise from the start. In 1994 the band appeared on Saturday Night Live and Late Show with David Letterman, and toured with The Rolling Stones. The album sold 7 million copies, but success took a toll on the band; drummer Steve Bowman left, and Duritz suffered a widely-reported nervous breakdown, which was not his first.
Recovering the Satellites 
The band played only two gigs in 1995. This allowed Duritz to write a set of songs that became the band's second album, Recovering the Satellites. Released October 15, 1996, it was heavier than August and Everything After, perhaps due to the addition of second guitarist Dan Vickrey, who had joined in early 1994. A response to the sudden fame that "Mr. Jones" had brought, it contains lyrics such as "These days I feel like I'm fading away / Like sometimes when I hear myself on the radio" (from "Have You Seen Me Lately?") and "Gonna get back to basics / Guess I'll start it up again" (from "Recovering the Satellites"). Dealing with the theme of Duritz's unease with his newfound fame, the album was described as "a concept album of sorts about trying to pick up the pieces of a family, a social life and a psyche shattered by fame." Also noteworthy that this album contained a very important hit single entitled "A Long December" which most likely increased Counting Crows fan base exponentially due to the medium to heavy rotation FM radio air play it received. In July 1997, after nine months of near-constant touring in support of the album, Duritz developed nodules on his vocal cords, leading to the cancellation of a number of gigs. After taking time off to recover, the band toured for the rest of 1997, concluding with a show at the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York. This concert was released as half of a double live album Across a Wire: Live in New York City. The other disc was a recording of a predominantly acoustic set from the band's appearance on the VH1 Storytellers show.
This Desert Life 
In 1999, Counting Crows performed at Woodstock 99. Later that same year, the band released This Desert Life, sales of which were propelled by the success of "Hanginaround" and "Colorblind" which was also featured in the movie Cruel Intentions. Supporting the album, the band embarked on a co-headlining tour with alternative rock band Live. Counting Crows closed nearly every show. Before this album and subsequent tour, the band invited session player and long-time friend David Immerglück to join the band as a permanent member. Immerglück had played on every Counting Crows album as a sideman, but early on had declined a permanent position. This time, however, Immerglück said yes and now plays variety of instruments with the band, including acoustic, electric, and pedal steel guitars, slide guitar, and mandolin, as well as contributing backing vocals.
Hard Candy and greatest hits 
On July 9, 2002, the band released their fourth studio album, Hard Candy. The album included a cover of Joni Mitchell's song "Big Yellow Taxi". Vanessa Carlton contributed backing vocals to the single edit of the track, which appeared on the soundtrack for Two Weeks Notice and was re-released on future Hard Candy albums. The original version, without vocals by Carlton, appeared on the first album release as a hidden track. Hard Candy received better reviews than the previous efforts, with "radio friendly" songs, like "American Girls" (which featured Sheryl Crow on backing vocals), and contains a more upbeat feel and tempo. The band toured with the Dutch band, Bløf. A song, "Holiday in Spain," came together as a result of the camaraderie between the two groups: it is sung partly as a dual language duet, and partly as a musical "round", with both lead singers singing in differing languages at the end of the song.
Midway through the Hard Candy tour, drummer Ben Mize (born February 2, 1971, Durham, North Carolina) amicably left the band to spend more time with his family and pursue his own musical interests. After Mize completed the American leg of the tour, he was replaced by Jim Bogios, formerly a drummer with Ben Folds and Sheryl Crow. Following the Hard Candy tour, longtime bassist Matt Malley left the band. He was replaced by Millard Powers.
Counting Crows released the greatest hits album, Films About Ghosts in November 2003; the album title was taken from the lyrics of "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby," which appeared on This Desert Life. The band also toured in 2003 with John Mayer, in 2008 with Maroon 5, and in 2002 and 2004 with the Graham Colton Band.
In 2004, the band's "Accidentally in Love" appeared on the soundtrack of the hugely popular computer-animated film Shrek 2. The song was nominated and performed for an Academy Award, and later versions of the 2003 greatest hits album include the track, which was re-released in 2004. The official film clip of the song features LA-based international model Steve Vanda.
New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall 
In June 2006, the band released New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall, a live album assembled from performances on their 2003 tour in support of Hard Candy. Although it is composed mainly of performances of already released material, it also contains "Hazy" (co-written with tour support act Gemma Hayes) and various vendor-specific additional tracks, such as a cover of Jackson C. Frank's "Blues Run the Game".
Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings 
Duritz hinted in an interview that Counting Crows' next studio record would be released in late 2007. He indicated that the band recently had spent three weeks working in a recording studio with Gil Norton, the producer behind Recovering the Satellites. On September 27, 2007, Duritz announced on his blog that the band had asked its record label to postpone the album's release until early 2008, citing the time pressures involved in preparing both the new album and an August and Everything After deluxe edition for release.
Duritz revealed the working title of the album to be Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, explaining, "Saturday night is when you sin and Sunday is when you regret. Sinning is often done very loudly, angrily, bitterly, violently." Vickrey has stated that "the idea at the moment is to have kind of a rocking side and then an acoustic-y, maybe country-ish side. We got the first half done in May in New York, so half of it is pretty strong and done. And now we're going to work on the second half, the country tunes, during the tour."
On July 22, 2007, at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, Delaware, a new ballad, titled "Washington Square," was previewed. It ended up being the first track which turned up on the latter half ("Sunday Mornings") of the new record. Also played was "Cowboys," a track from the first half ("Saturday Nights") of the new album. "Insignificant" was stated by Duritz to be the second track on the "Saturday Nights" portion of the album.
On August 8, 2007, VH1 filmed a live performance of "Mr. Jones". Clips of that performance were shown on the VH1 miniseries 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s. VH1 ranked "Mr. Jones" at No. 27 on the list.
On September 18, 2007, Counting Crows played a show at Town Hall in New York City, during which they played August and Everything After from beginning to end. They also played several songs from Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings. This show was recorded for an upcoming DVD release. The album was released on March 25, 2008.
On January 16, 2008, the band released a digital single on their official website as a free download. It features "1492" from the "Saturday Nights" half of the disc and "When I Dream Of Michelangelo" from the "Sunday Mornings" half as its B-side.
Departure from Geffen 
On March 22, 2009, Duritz announced on the band's website that the band would be leaving Geffen Records, with whom they had worked for 18 years. On this day a message from Duritz himself was posted on the band's homepage: a second message was posted a few weeks later. He ended the first letter with a free download of the band's cover of Madonna's "Borderline." The track was recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall in 2003.
August and Everything After: Live at Town Hall and Underwater Sunshine 
Since their departure from Geffen, the band has continued to tour. During the summer of 2009, they launched the ambitious Saturday Night Rebel Rockers Traveling Circus and Medicine Show tour with long time Bay Area friend Michael Franti, his band Spearhead, and the band Augustana. Instead of the traditional concert format of a short set by an opening act, followed by a longer set from a main supporting act, and then a long set by the headlining band, the shows featured members of all of the bands joining each other for songs from each bands' catalogs at various points throughout the evening. As Duritz explained in a welcoming message on the official website for the tour, each show "is going to start with EVERYONE onstage together and we're going to all be running on & off stage all night playing one each other's songs all together and basically just playing whenever we feel like playing." The success of the first tour spawned a second in the summer of 2010 with Counting Crows and Augustana joined by rock/hip-hop artist (and formally trained jazz trumpeter) NOTAR, whom Duritz had signed to his independent Tyrannosaurus Records label, in place of Franti & Spearhead.
Following the tour, Duritz returned to his home in New York City while the other band members retreated to California. Various members began work on individual projects. Duritz has shared solo recordings and musical cover songs online, including the 7-song EP All My Bloody Valentines recorded in February 2011, as well as his progress with recovery from several prescription drug addictions. Vickrey and Bogios recorded the self-titled debut album for their side project, The Tender Mercies, a band with roots going back to the early 1990s. The album was released on October 24, 2011.
The long-awaited release of August and Everything After: Live at Town Hall on August 30, 2011 marked the band's third professionally produced live album and the first concert video of their career. The band also returned to the studio in the Spring of 2011 to record a number of cover songs with the intention of releasing a full-length album, an idea Duritz first began publicly speaking of following the release of Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings. Duritz confirmed while on tour with the band and through social media in the Fall of 2011 that they are in the process of mixing over 20 songs and that an album of the covers will be released in the Spring of 2012.
The band announced on December 14, 2011, that the upcoming covers album would be titled Under Covers and would be released on March 27, 2012. The announcement came in partnership with Creative Allies on a contest for fans to design the album cover and layout. Duritz stated that the band recorded versions of songs by Travis, The Romany Rye, Dawes, Sordid Humor, Madonna, Big Star, Kasey Anderson & the Honkies, Gram Parsons, Joe Jackson, Faces, and Stereophonics, amongst others.
On December 24, 2011, Duritz announced that the upcoming album has changed names. He liked the Under Covers album title, but felt that it was "meh". The album is now titled Underwater Sunshine. Alternatively, there is a longer title; Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation). A following email from the band's official site on February 6, 2012, presented the winning album art and the finalized tracklist with 15 songs. It also confirmed an updated release date of April 10, 2012.
Live performances and covers 
Counting Crows, and Adam Duritz in particular, have become renowned for the energetic, passionate nature of their live performances. Duritz frequently extends and rewrites songs live, adding extra verses or alternate middle sections and/or endings, sometimes fitting most of another of the band's other songs into the middle of the first. On a live performance on Howard Stern's SIRIUS broadcast radio show, he delivered an altered version of "'Round Here" that Stern said was one of the best performances in his studio he had ever heard, with anchor Robin Quivers agreeing. He often uses other artists' lyrics in these sections as well, ranging from well-known acts, such as Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison and George Gershwin, to obscure Bay Area bands, including revisiting material from his days working with Sordid Humor.
Most songs have been altered at some point during the band's history; the ones most often subjected to this treatment include "Round Here", "Goodnight Elisabeth", "Rain King", and "A Murder of One". Examples of this can be heard on the MTV Live at the 10 Spot disc from Across a Wire: Live in New York City (on which "Round Here" contains lyrics from "Have You Seen Me Lately?") and the VH1 Storytellers disc ("Anna Begins" has an extended midsection with new lyrics, and the introduction to "Mr. Jones" includes lyrics from "Miller's Angels" and from The Byrds' "So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star"). Fansites have attempted to keep records of these alternate lyrics, or "alts".
The band has also become known for its acoustic performances, most notably recorded on the VH1 Storytellers disc from Across a Wire: Live in New York City. In addition, as of Fall 2010 (and maybe earlier), the band has recorded Coffee Covers for Sirius-XM Radio Channel-51 ("The Coffee House"), including a cover of The Ghost in You (Psychedelic Furs). iTunes Live from SoHo was recorded on March 27, 2008, at an in-store performance in the SoHo Apple Store in New York City. The album was an iTunes exclusive. It featured many songs from the band's 2008 release Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings along with old favorites such as "Rain King" and "A Long December."
The band has drawn deep in covering artists such as Otis Redding, George Harrison, Wilco, Rod Stewart, Fairport Convention, Pure Prairie League, The Rolling Stones, Jackson C. Frank, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Warren Zevon, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Simon and Garfunkel, Psychedelic Furs, Oasis and The Band.
In 2008 the band launched a new website, offering band-approved, soundboard-quality recordings of its concerts.
In February 2011 Duritz released an indie album of cover songs he had recorded entitled All My Bloody Valentines, in which he allowed Facebook followers to help name and design the cover art for the album. The album is allowed for free download on Duritz's soundcloud webpage. Duritz later announced that the band has continued recording a new album as an independent band. The album August & Everything After – Live at Town Hall was released on August 29, 2011.
In March 2013 Counting Crows cancelled a gig in Wellington, New Zealand after their opening act had already played.
Live Audience recordings 
The band actively encourages the recording of its concerts and the distribution of the resulting bootleg recordings (though the tapers who create the recordings eschew such terminology on account of its association with unauthorized creation and its tendency to imply that the taper has black-market commercial intentions: see "Taper (concert)"). The band hosts a trading network on its website to enable fans to swap concert recordings. Sale of fan recordings for profit is prohibited; fans must either trade their own recordings for others or pay for blank media, postage, and packaging. An unofficial torrent site, named Crowstown, offers a vast quantity of video and live audience recordings for free.