Formation and Early Success
In early the 80s, two university friends, Michael Houser and John Bell decided to form a band as they shared similar music interests. Inviting the bassist Dave Schools to join them, the trio jammed together and began developing their original style. Houser asked his high school friend and professional drummer, Todd Nance to team up and together the foursome performed at a number of gigs. Besides small gigs, the group played at various local venues in Georgia and in 1986 came to be commonly known as Widespread Panic.
The vivid set list and organized sound of their concerts got the attention of the local media. In 1987, the band landed a recording deal with the Landslide Records. Widespread Panic released their debut studio record, Space Wrangler in 1988 that became popular with their fans. Their second self-titled album came out in 1991. Their third studio album, Everyday hit the shelves in 1993 and entered the Billboard 200 chart. The album also received critical acclaim and introduced the band’s music to a wide range of listeners.
Fame and Consistent Touring
Widespread Panic rose to commercial prominence after releasing their fourth album, Ain’t Life Grand. One after the other successful records coupled with a series of live shows established Widespread Panic as one of the leading touring bands of the country. Their first live album, Light Fuse, Get Away was released in 1998 and it proved to be a huge success. Their sixth studio album, ‘Til the Medicine Takes was released in 1999. The album earned great critical acclaim and spawned hits like Surprise Valley and You’ll Be Fine.
The start of the new century brought more success as their 2001 studio record, Don’t Tell the Band became a hit. The group also headlined their concerts in major parts of the world. Widespread Panic tickets sales hit the roof and the band was compared to legendary jam bands like Phish and The Grateful Dead due to their live rock style of music. In August 2002, one of the key members and band’s guitarist, Michael Houser died of cancer and George McConnell joined the band as the replacement.
McConnell’s guitar driven sound influenced the band’s future records and Ball was released in April 2005. The album received positive reviews from the critics besides hitting the music charts. Three years after the release of Ball, Widespread Panic came up with their ninth studio album, Earth to America and in the same year, Jimmy Herring joined the band as the lead guitarist. The band went on to tour in support of the album and packed multiple venues including several sold out shows at the Red Rocks Amphitheater.
The Current Lineup
Currently the band consists of five highly talented and dedicated band members namely John Bell, Dave Schools, John "JoJo" Hermann, Jimmy Herring, Domingo S. Ortiz, and Todd Nance. The quintet, with their respective talents, contributes to the band’s sound and makes it infectious for their fans. The different music arrangement coupled with their signature playing style keeps their listeners hooked to their songs and even appeal to those who are new to their large fan base.
After the release of their tenth studio album, Free Somehow in 2008, the band toured around the US and abroad for their live shows. Their latest studio album, Dirty Side Down came out in May 2010 and peaked at 27th on the Billboard 200 chart. 1n 2012, after their first all acoustic tour, known as the Wood Tour, Widespread Panic announced their hiatus for a short period. In the spring of 2013, the band returned to the music scene and launched their latest tour. In May 2013, they also released their newest archive set list, Oak Mountain 2001 – Night 1.
Widespread Panic’s latest tour is packed with their greatest hits, matchless energy and irresistible vibe. The tour is expected to last till spring of 2014. Attend one of their live shows in your city and enjoy some of the band’s classics as well as new hits.