Getting his initial big break as the bassist with '90s rockers Blind Melon, Brad Smith branched out after the band's 1995 dissolution as a solo artist -- proving he was not just your average sideman. Born in West Point, MS, on September 29, 1968, Smith discovered music via playing the baritone sax and snare drum for his junior-high band. He also taught himself how to play guitar, and began playing with another local burgeoning guitarist, Rogers Stevens, jamming away to '80s heavy metal as well as classic rock. After Smith graduated from high school and decided that college life wasn't for him, he and Stevens relocated to Los Angeles, CA, looking to form a band. Hooking up with singer Shannon Hoon, second guitarist Christopher Thorn, and drummer Glenn Graham, Blind Melon was born in 1990.
Although glam/pop metal was all the rage on the sunset strip at the time, Blind Melon's roots lay in '70s Southern and classic rock, as the band adopted a natural retro look as opposed to spandex threads and heavily sprayed hair. The band's self-titled debut followed in 1992, and although it wasn't an immediate hit, it eventually scaled the charts almost a year after its initial release due to nonstop touring and their breakthrough hit video/single, "No Rain" (a song Smith penned years before he joined the band, about a former girlfriend who suffered from depression). With their debut certified multi-platinum, Blind Melon appeared to have a successful career ahead of them. But tragedy prevented it happening -- after only one more release, 1995's woefully underrated Soup, Hoon died midtour from a drug overdose, promptly ending the band. After issuing the odds and ends compilation Nico a year after Hoon's death, the surviving members planned on continuing on with a different singer, which ultimately didn't work out and the members went their separate ways.
Smith appeared on friend Joe Tullos' 1997 solo debut, Scoundrel's Waltz, and began working on his very first solo album. Despite an article on the Rolling Stone website that said Smith's solo debut would be issued in early 1999, the album was put on the back burner, as Smith reunited with former Melon bandmember Thorn to form a new band, Unified Theory, issuing their critically acclaimed self-titled album for Universal in 2000 (produced by Smith and Thorn themselves). The following year saw the release of Smith's much-delayed solo debut, titled Mercy, issued under the alias Abandon Jalopy. ~ Greg Prato