Live (band)

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Live Chili Cookoff 2008.jpg
Live in 2008.
Background information
Origin York, Pennsylvania, United States
Genres Alternative rock, pop rock, post-grunge
Years active 1989–2009, 2012–Present
Labels Sony BMG, Epic, Radioactive
Associated acts The Gracious Few
Members Ed Kowalczyk
Chad Taylor
Patrick Dahlheimer
Chad Gracey
Past members Chris Shinn

Live (/ˈlv/, often typeset as LĪVE or +LĪVE+) is an American rock band from York, Pennsylvania, consisting of Ed Kowalczyk (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, primary songwriter), Chad Taylor (lead guitar, backing vocals), Patrick Dahlheimer (bass) and Chad Gracey (drums). Kowalczyk left the band in 2009 and was replaced by Chris Shinn, but rejoined in December 2016.[1]

Live achieved worldwide success with their 1994 album, Throwing Copper, which has sold eight million copies in the U.S.[2] The band had a string of hit singles in the mid-1990s including "Lightning Crashes", which stayed at the top of the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for 10 consecutive weeks and the Modern Rock Tracks (now Alternative Songs) chart for nine weeks from February 25 to April 22, 1995.[3] The band has sold over 20 million albums worldwide.[4] Their last three studio albums fared only moderately well in the U.S., but they continued to enjoy success in The Netherlands, South Africa, Australasia and Brazil.

When touring, Live has used additional musicians, including Ed Kowalczyk's younger brother Adam on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, British keyboardist Michael "Railo" Railton and rhythm guitarist Christopher Thorn of Blind Melon.

On November 30, 2009, Taylor revealed that what had initially been termed a two-year hiatus was more likely the end of the band. An acrimonious split soon occurred, with Kowalczyk leaving the band, however Live continued with new vocalist Chris Shinn and released the album The Turn in October 2014. Kowalczyk rejoined the band in December 2016.


Early history, The Death of a Dictionary and Mental Jewelry: 1984–1992[edit]

Live started in the early 1980s under the name "First Aid", as a trio of Taylor, Dahlheimer and Gracey. Kowalczyk joined in 1984, when the group (by then going by "Action Front") lost a talent show. They went through various different names, including "Action Front", "Body Odor Boys", "Paisley Brues" and "Club Fungus", before settling on "Public Affection" in January 1987. When the band (by then called Public Affection) graduated from high school, they recorded a self-released cassette of original songs, The Death of a Dictionary, in 1989. In 1990 they released an EP of demos produced by Jay Healy, titled Divided Mind, Divided Planet, via their Black Coffee mailing list. The band played regular concerts at CBGB in New York City, which helped earn them a contract with Radioactive Records in 1991. In June that year, the band changed its name to Live.[5][6] Gracey gave the band the name "Public Affection" based on a comment by his girlfriend at the time.[7]

Under the new name Live, the band entered the studio with producer Jerry Harrison (of Talking Heads) and recorded the EP Four Songs. The single "Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)" went to number nine on the Modern Rock chart and was followed by their debut album, 1991's Mental Jewelry, which Harrison again produced. Pat Dalheimer said, "So important to have somebody else in the room to help us, especially with arrangements. I mean, we were still learning how to write songs...Jerry just seemed to know everything...this guy's a wizard!"[8] Some of the album's lyrics, written by Kowalczyk, were inspired by Indian philosopher and writer Jiddu Krishnamurti.[5]

Throwing Copper and mainstream success: 1993–1996[edit]

After appearances on the MTV 120 Minutes tour, at Woodstock '94 and on Peter Gabriel's WOMAD tour, Live's second album, Throwing Copper, achieved mainstream success. The album featured the singles "I Alone", "All Over You", and the number one US Modern Rock hits "Selling the Drama" and "Lightning Crashes". "Lightning Crashes" also stayed at the top of the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for ten consecutive weeks. The band appeared on NBC's Saturday Night Live, where they performed "I Alone" and "Selling the Drama".

The success of the singles eventually gained Throwing Copper the number one position on the Billboard 200 album chart on May 6, 1995, its 52nd week on the chart. It was the third longest gap between an album first charting and reaching number one, behind Fleetwood Mac's Fleetwood Mac in 1976 (58 weeks) and Paula Abdul's Forever Your Girl in 1989 (64 weeks). It is Live's best-selling album, having sold eight million copies in the US alone.[2] In 1995 the band appeared on MTV Unplugged. Their set included a cover version of Vic Chesnutt's "Supernatural".

Secret Samadhi and The Distance to Here: 1997–2000[edit]

The success of Throwing Copper meant that 1997's Secret Samadhi (co-produced by the band and Jay Healy) debuted at number one on the US album chart. It took its name from Samadhi, a state of Hindu meditation. The album contained four Modern Rock hit singles, but failed to match its predecessor's success, with sales reaching two million. The band performed "Lakini's Juice" and "Heropsychodreamer" from the album on Saturday Night Live.

Jerry Harrison returned as co-producer for 1999's The Distance to Here, which entered the US album chart at number four and featured the hit single "The Dolphin's Cry". In 2000, Live embarked on a co-headlining tour with Counting Crows. On that tour, Counting Crows' lead singer Adam Duritz often joined Live for their performance of "The Dolphin's Cry", while Kowalczyk sang a verse of "Hanginaround" with Counting Crows.

V, Birds of Pray and Awake: The Best of Live: 2001–2004[edit]

Chad Taylor

On September 18, 2001, the experimental V (originally to be called Ecstatic Fanatic) was released to mixed reviews. The first single was "Simple Creed", which featured a rap from Tricky, but the events of 9/11, which occurred a week before V was released, meant that the melancholic "Overcome" received significant airplay and became the album's selling point. V reached number 22 in the US. Also in 2001, Live contributed a live version of the song "I Alone" to the charity album Live in the X Lounge IV. "Overcome" was used at the end of the second-season finale of The Shield.

In May 2003, the band released the Jim Wirt produced Birds of Pray, which reached number 28 on the US album chart, boosted by the unexpected success of the single "Heaven", Live's first U.S. Hot 100 hit single since "The Dolphin's Cry".

In November 2004, Live released a greatest hits compilation, Awake: The Best of Live. Awake included "We Deal in Dreams", a previously unreleased song from the Throwing Copper sessions, a cover version of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line", and a new version of their song "Run Away" with Shelby Lynne sharing lead vocals with Kowalczyk. A deluxe version of the album included a DVD with 22 music videos and an interview with Kowalczyk.

Songs from Black Mountain, Radiant Sea and live DVD: 2005–2008[edit]

In 2005, Live signed to Sony BMG Music Entertainment's Epic label. They released the album Songs from Black Mountain in June 2006. The album peaked at number 52 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and reached number three on the Billboard Independent album chart. The first single was "The River".

Chad Gracey

On season five of American Idol, finalist Chris Daughtry was accused of performing Live's version of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" and claiming it as his own interpretation. A week later, Daughtry acknowledged this was true and said that Live was one of his favorite bands. In May 2006, Live appeared on The Howard Stern Show to address this issue.[9] On August 2, 2008, Daughtry and Live performed Live's interpretation of "I Walk the Line" together at the Toms River Fest in Toms River, New Jersey.[10]

Pat Dahlheimer

On September 14, 2007, the band released Radiant Sea: A Collection of Bootleg Rarities and Two New Songs, their first album since 1989 on their own Action Front Records label. The new songs were "Beautiful Invisible" and "Radiant Sea". Live recorded their first concert DVD in the Netherlands during two shows at the Paradiso on June 30 and July 1, 2008. Live at the Paradiso - Amsterdam was released on November 11, 2008 on DVD and CD. Also in 2008 the band headlined a US tour which also featured Blues Traveler and Collective Soul.

An unreleased Live song, "Hold Me Up", features in the 2008 Kevin Smith film Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Smith said, "I first heard (the song) in ‘95 when we were putting together the Mallrats soundtrack. It was actually in the film for the first test screening, but Live decided they wanted to hold onto it as a potential single off their next album...When I was editing Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back...I put in a request for it...again, I was denied. Third time, apparently, was the charm. Needed a song for that sequence in Zack and Miri and remembered the Live track. This time, the band signed off on us using the track. Took 13 years, but was worth the wait!"[11] In spite of Smith's endorsement, the song does not appear on the movie's soundtrack album.

Kowalczyk's departure[edit]

Kowalczyk at Bluesfest 2009

After a concert in July 2009, Live announced that the band would take a two-year hiatus to work on other projects. Kowalczyk recorded his solo album Alive and the other band members formed a group with Kevin Martin and Sean Hennessy of Candlebox called The Gracious Few.[12] That band proceeded to record a self-titled debut album in California for release in September 2010. On November 30, 2009, Taylor revealed that the "hiatus" could become a permanent split.[13]

Chris Shinn era and The Turn: 2012-2016[edit]

Chris Shinn with Live, March 12, 2012.

On June 8, 2011, Taylor revealed that he, Dahlheimer and Gracey would restart the band without Kowalczyk. He made no mention of any new lead singer, but said "We'll have to begin addressing the hole left by our singer's departure." He added that "I need to feel Live once again without the constraints that were placed on it over the last few years. Chad, Patrick and I invested most of our lives to writing, recording and performing the songs of Live. We deserve a chance to reconnect with the fans to say goodbye to the old era and hello to the new."[14] Kowalczyk was critical of the new lineup. he complained that "they obfuscate that it's not the real band. They don't say that it's not the original lineup. They just kind of go out and surprise people, and it's really sort of lame."[15]

On January 24, 2012 Taylor, Dahlheimer and Gracey announced that they were leading members in a project to renovate a four story building at 210 York Street in York. Three housed a technology company, creating 60 new jobs. The building also included a brand new recording studio.[16]

The band returned from their nearly three-year hiatus on March 12, 2012, with Chris Shinn, formerly of Unified Theory, as Kowalczyk's replacement. The new line-up performed before an invited audience at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in York. The band performed with new touring members Sean Hennesy on rhythm guitar and Alexander Lefever on keyboards.[17][18] In July 2012, Live commenced more legal proceedings against Kowalczyk for misuse of the band's name while promoting his live performances.[19] Live's first major tour with Shinn was as part of the Summerland Tour 2013, playing 35 shows across the US. Other featured bands were Everclear, Filter and Sponge.[20]

Live's first album to feature Shinn, The Turn, was released on October 28, 2014.[21] The album's first single, "The Way Around Is Through," was uploaded to YouTube on September 10, 2014 and officially released on September 16.

Kowalczyk's return: 2016-present[edit]

On October 24, 2016, Chad Taylor and Ed Kowalczyk along with singer Zoe LaBelle took part in an interview for WVYC Radio.[22] Although the primary reason for the interview was to promote new music by LaBelle that Chad had worked on, it marked the first time that the two former bandmates had publicly appeared together since 2009. Fueling speculation over a possible reunion, the Live Facebook page returned on Nov. 16, 2016, with an early picture of the band's original lineup, a new logo and nothing more. On the same day, Ed Kowalczyk's Facebook page was also updated with a new profile picture and cover photo both displaying the same logo from the band's page.[23] Despite the changes on Facebook, the band's website remained black until December 9, when a countdown was posted suggesting new information would be released at 3PM EST on Monday, December 12, 2016. Later that day, Live's Twitter and Facebook pages announced the four original band members have reunited with tour dates to be announced for 2017.

Band members[edit]

Current members
Former members
  • Chris Shinn– lead vocals, rhythm guitar (2012–2016)
Touring musicians
  • Christopher Thorn– rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1998)
  • Adam Kowalczyk– rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1999–2009)
  • Michael "Railo" Railton– keyboards, backing vocals (1999–2002)
  • Sean Hennesy– rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2012)
  • Alexander Lefever– keyboards, backing vocals (2012)


Main article: Live discography

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Geslani, Michelle. "Live reunite with singer Ed Kowalczyk, announce world tour and new music". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  2. ^ a b "RIAA (Gold and Platinum)". RIAA. 
  3. ^ "Billboard Alternative Songs chart for February 25, 1995". Billboard.  (note: click on the "right arrow" button to advance the chart by a week)
  4. ^ "LIVE to Perform at The Pools at The Palazzo on June 11". Reuters. May 7, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "Live – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Media Five Band Archive for Public Affection". Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  7. ^ "York Sunday News-April 17, 1988". 1988-04-17. Retrieved 2016-12-14. 
  8. ^ Malandrone, Scott "Patrick Dahlheimer: Live In The Fast Lane" Bass Player
  9. ^ Thomas Panasci & Jason Kaplan, "The Rundown – The Howard Stern Show for May 10, 2006"
  10. ^ "Tom's River, NJ – Tom's River Fest 2008" Daughtry official website
  11. ^ W. Andrew Powell, "TIFF 08: Play that funky music" – September 11, 2008
  12. ^ Chad, "Live Planning to Take Hiatus" Alternative Addiction – June 28, 2009.
  13. ^ Chad, "Live Breakup Imminent?". Alternative Addiction – December 1, 2009.
  14. ^ "Exclusive Blog: Chad Taylor talks The Gracious Few and Live" The Comet – June 8, 2011
  15. ^ "Ed Kowalczyk Opens Up About His Ugly Split With Live" – November 20, 2013
  16. ^ James, Erin "Old city factory destined for cutting-edge technology" The York Dispatch – January 24, 2012
  17. ^ McCracken, Erin "Live's new lead singer is Chris Shinn, formerly of Unified Theory" York Daily Record – March 12, 2012
  18. ^ James, Erin "Live – with new singer – together for first concert since 2008" The York Dispatch – March 6, 2012
  19. ^ Gardner, Eriq "Ed Kowalczyk, Ex-Live Singer, Sued By Original Members For Using Band Name" Billboard – July 18, 2012
  20. ^ Greene, Andy (Rolling Stone)"2013 Summerland Tour unites Everclear, Live, Filter" USA Today – March 25, 2013
  21. ^ Childers, Chad "Live Make The Turn With New Vocalist Chris Shinn" Loudwire - August 28, 2014
  22. ^ Buchanan, Brett (2016-10-26). "Ed Kowalczyk Reunites With Live Bandmate". Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  23. ^ Colburn, Randall "Ed Kowalczyk to reunite with Live" Consequence of Sound November 17, 2016

External links[edit]