John Rzeznik

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John Rzeznik
Rzeznik performing on September 2, 2013, in Norfolk, Nebraska
Rzeznik performing on September 2, 2013, in Norfolk, Nebraska
Background information
Birth nameJohn Joseph Theodore Rzeznik
Also known asJohnny Rzeznik
Born (1965-12-05) December 5, 1965 (age 57)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
  • Singer-songwriter
  • guitarist
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1981–present
Member of

John Joseph Theodore Rzeznik (/ˈrɛznɪk/; born December 5, 1965) is an American singer-songwriter, best known as the founder, guitarist and frontman of the American rock band Goo Goo Dolls, with whom he has recorded 14 studio albums.

Early life[edit]

Rzeznik was born in Buffalo, New York, the youngest of five children and only son of Edith (née Pomeroy) and Joe Rzeznik,[5] a bar proprietor and postal clerk.[6][7] Both of Rzeznik's parents were musicians, playing the clarinet and flute. Rzeznik had a strict Catholic upbringing in Buffalo's working-class East Side Polish neighborhood and attended Corpus Christi Grammar School. All four of Rzeznik's grandparents were born in Poland.[8] The original pronunciation of his last name Rzeźnik is "Zhezh-neek" (zh as in beige) [ˈʐɛʑɲik], Polish for "butcher".[9]

Rzeznik's father died at the age of 53 on February 2, 1981, from a diabetic coma when Rzeznik was 15 years old. On October 26, 1982, his mother died at the age of 51 from a sudden heart attack in the family's living room. Having lost both of his parents, he was brought up by his four older sisters, Phyllis, Fran, Gladys and Kate, with help from their cousin, John Guljas. He paid for his own apartment using Social Security Survivor Benefit checks. It was during this period and while attending McKinley Vocational High School that Rzeznik began playing the guitar. He briefly attended Buffalo State College, dropping out after his first year.[citation needed]


Goo Goo Dolls[edit]

In 1985, Rzeznik formed the band that became the Goo Goo Dolls with Robby Takac. Previously Rzeznik had been in a band with Takac's cousin, called The Beaumonts.[10]

In the early days of the Goo Goo Dolls, the band performed at gigs relentlessly, with Takac as the frontman (Rzeznik gradually becoming the frontman over the next few albums, as each new album contained more songs sung by Rzeznik than the last). They were soon picked up by a small record label, Celluloid. Under Celluloid, they released their first eponymous album on a $750 budget (later the re-prints would be referred to as "First Release"). This attracted the attention of a larger record label, Metal Blade, who released their next few albums.[citation needed]

For the next few years, the band toured and worked on new material. The band received early success with the single "Name" as well as being featured in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare with the song "I'm Awake Now". Fast forward to their album Dizzy Up The Girl, the single "Iris" became a critical success due in large part to the release of the film City of Angels and it being a featured music video for the film.[citation needed]

Other activity[edit]

Following the album Gutterflower, Rzeznik wrote "Always Know Where You Are" and "I'm Still Here" for the Disney film Treasure Planet,[11] which were also released as a single independently from the band.

From October to December 2007, Rzeznik was a judge alongside Sheila E. and Australian Idol judge and marketing manager Ian "Dicko" Dickson on the Fox network's The Next Great American Band.[12]

On June 19, 2008, Rzeznik was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was awarded the Hal David Starlight Award.[13]

On March 24, 2014, Cash Cash released their new single "Lightning". The single featured Rzeznik on vocals and was written by Cash Cash and Rzeznik together.[14]

On November 29, 2020, he participated in a virtual fundraiser to help combat hunger and raise money for the Community Foodbank of New Jersey.[15]

Musical style[edit]

Rzeznik onstage, playing an acoustic guitar
Rzeznik in 2006


Most of the music Rzeznik listened to while growing up was influenced by his sisters, and consisted of classic rock such as The Rolling Stones and The Kinks. The youngest of his four older sisters moved towards punk music and Rzeznik became interested in bands such as Ramones and The Clash.[16] Rzeznik attributes his gift for melody to listening to bands such as Kiss, Cheap Trick, The Cure and Rush in the early 1980s.[16] Rzeznik also cites Paul Westerberg as an "obvious influence" on his music.[17] Westerberg co-wrote the 1993 Goo Goo Dolls song "We Are the Normal" with Rzeznik, who reflected on the experience by stating "To some people, Keith Richards is their hero. I feel that way about Westerberg. Keith Richards got to do his thing with Chuck Berry, and I got to do it with Westerberg. That was amazing to me."[18]

Rzeznik has stated that his dream collaboration would be with singer/songwriter Grace VanderWaal.[19]


Rzeznik believes writing is not just an inspirational act but that writing music is "ninety nine percent perspiration." He says that when writing a song, he often "runs tape and screws around with stuff," and his songs are often both biographical and autobiographical. According to Rzeznik, before penning down the song "Iris", he was on the verge of leaving the band because he had been writing songs for the past nine years and it had been a low. However, Rzeznik was approached for writing the soundtrack of the movie City of Angels, and after watching the movie, Rzeznik penned down the song, which changed the band's career.[20]

Guitar tunings[edit]

Rzeznik is known for his use of alternate guitar tunings in his songs. Rzeznik has said that he would "basically sit there at night and just start tuning my guitar strings up and down until something sounded really cool." For example, "Iris" is played with the guitar tuned to BDDDDD.

Notable performances[edit]

At the 2004 Fashion Rocks! concert in New York, Rzeznik performed a duet version of the song "Iris" with Canadian pop-punk singer Avril Lavigne.[21] The Goo Goo Dolls also performed the song "Name" at a live concert with LeAnn Rimes. Rzeznik also performed Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" with Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit for the victims of September 11 as a tribute to the heroes.[citation needed]

On July 4, 2004, Rzeznik and his bandmates returned home to Buffalo and played a free show to give back to their loyal fans, over 60,000 of whom attended. The day quickly became a city triumph when rain came pouring down during their performance. It turned out to be one of the strongest rainstorms of the year in Buffalo, but the Goo Goo Dolls did not stop playing. Rzeznik declared, "We're going to keep going until this shit stops". This performance was captured on DVD and CD for the public in the Goo Goo Dolls release Live in Buffalo: July 4, 2004.[citation needed]


After the Goo Goo Dolls' equipment was stolen from a van in New York City (including Rzeznik's Marshall JCM800 amplifier and his only guitar at the time), following the recording of their 1989 album, Jed, a custom, yellow Stratocaster-style guitar (later nicknamed "Boing") was made for Rzeznik by ESP. Now without an amplifier, Rzeznik borrowed a near-identical Marshall JCM800 from a mutual friend of the band, Charles Root. This amp was then used to record Hold Me Up and Superstar Car Wash. Since the late 1990s, Rzeznik has used Fender electric guitars. He has used many variations such as the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar and a "Halfcaster" (a Stratocaster cut in half). He also used Guild acoustic guitars on the Dizzy Up the Girl and Gutterflower tours. Rzeznik noted in a 2003 interview that "No matter what guitar I have, it seems that anything with strings makes music to my ears."[20][dead link]

Personal life[edit]

Rzeznik met former model Laurie Farinacci in 1990, married her in 1993 but divorced in 2003; they did not have any children.[22][23] He started dating Melina Gallo in 2005 and married her in Malibu, California, on July 26, 2013.[24] On December 22, 2016, he and Gallo had their first child, a daughter, Liliana.[25] Rzeznik and his family reside in Westfield, New Jersey.[26]

Rzeznik is a recovering alcoholic. In a 2018 interview, he reported that he had been sober for nearly four years.[26]


Solo singles[edit]

Title Year Chart positions Album
US Pop
US Adult
"I'm Still Here (Jim's Theme)" 2002 38 10 68 Treasure Planet Soundtrack

Collaborations/individual discography[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ellis, Andrew (June 6, 2002). "Goo Goo Dolls: Gutterflower". PopMatters. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  2. ^ Anthony, David (June 27, 2014). "Beach Slang offers up the summer anthem of a bygone era". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  3. ^ Brennan, Collin, Dan Bogosian and Claire Sevigny (March 17, 2015). "Goo Goo Dolls vs. Collective Soul: 20 Years Later". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved August 27, 2015.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Matthew Murphy (January 3, 2011). "Goo Goo Dolls' Johnny Rzeznik on His Punk Past, New Album". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
  5. ^ "This Dolls Life". Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  6. ^ "How did the band The Goo Goo Dolls contribute to music? -". eNotes.
  7. ^ White, Timothy (February 25, 1995). "Goo Goo Dolls' Blue-Collar Guts". Billboard. Vol. 107, no. 8. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 7.
  8. ^ "John Rzeznik: "I am still looking for that perfect song."". Papa Tomski. April 6, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  9. ^ "Cambridge Dictionary". Retrieved November 19, 2022.
  10. ^ "Goo Goo Dolls FAQ". Retrieved March 4, 2008.
  11. ^ Flick, Larry (December 7, 2002). "Soundtracks". Billboard. p. 16.
  12. ^ "The Next Great American Band Official Website". Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  13. ^ "Songwriters Hall of Fame – 2008 Award and Induction Ceremony Induction Ceremonies". Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  14. ^ "Cash Cash release Lightning EP". Dancing Astronaut. March 25, 2014.
  15. ^ Kadosh, Matt (November 29, 2020). "Watch Goo Goo Dolls Singer Live from Westfield in Benefit to Fight Hunger".
  16. ^ a b Hall, Russell (July 23, 2007). "The Music Blog". Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2008.
  17. ^ "John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls". Archived from the original on March 18, 2007. Retrieved March 4, 2008.
  18. ^ "Rank Your Records: John Rzeznik Plays Favorites with the Goo Goo Dolls Records". Noisey. December 17, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  19. ^ "Catching up with Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls". May 19, 2022.
  20. ^ a b "John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls". 2000.
  21. ^ Critchell, Samantha (September 9, 2004). "Fashion Rocks at Radio City Hall". Retrieved August 11, 2007.
  22. ^ "This Dolls Life". Angelfire. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  23. ^ "Goo Goo Dolls' Johnny Rzeznik Is Engaged". January 22, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  24. ^ Greer, Carlos (July 27, 2013). "John Rzeznik Is Married". People. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  25. ^ Nelson, Jeff; Juneau, Jen (December 23, 2016). "John Rzeznik and Wife Welcome Daughter Liliana Carella". Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  26. ^ a b O'Shei, Tim. "John Rzeznik unveiled: Goo Goo Dolls frontman finds peace in sobriety, love in fatherhood". The Buffalo News.
  27. ^ a b "Artist Search for "johnny rzeznik"". AllMusic.
  28. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 241.
  29. ^ The song was written and performed by Rzeznik in the movie, but it was performed by BBMak on the Treasure Planet soundtrack.

External links[edit]