Sugar Ray

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Sugar Ray
Sugar Ray.jpg
Sugar Ray performing in Los Angeles in June 2009
Background information
Origin Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Years active
  • 1986–2015
  • 2018—present
Past members
  • Stan Frazier
  • Murphy Karges
  • DJ Homicide
  • Nic Edwards
  • Al Keith
  • Serge Dmitrijevic
  • Jesse Bivona
  • Justin Bivona

Sugar Ray is an American rock band formed in 1986. The band, starting off more as a funk metal band, gained mainstream fame in 1997 with their release of the song "Fly".[1] This song's success, coupled with its pop rock sound that was quite different from the rest of their material at the time, led the band to change to a mainstream, pop music style. Subsequent albums shared this style, and the band landed a number of hits with "Every Morning" and "Someday" from 14:59 and "When It's Over" from their self-titled album.


Formation and Lemonade and Brownies (1986–96)[edit]

The band members grew up in Orange County. Rodney Sheppard played in a number of reggae bands, including working with future Good Charlotte drummer Dean Butterworth. In the late 1980s, prior to Sugar Ray, Sheppard and Stan Frazier played together in a band under the name The Tories. Later additions Murphy Karges, Craig Bullock and Mark McGrath changed the band's name to Shrinky Dinx – they were initially named Shrinky Dinks. After signing with Atlantic Records, the name was changed to Sugar Ray upon threat of a lawsuit from the Milton Bradley Company, maker of the Shrinky Dinks toy.[2]

The band's debut album, Lemonade and Brownies, was released in 1995 and though it failed to produce a major hit single it did earn them recognition in alternative circles. Their early work features elements of funk metal, punk rock and alternative rock.[2]

After they gained fame with the 1997 album Floored in 1998, the single "Speed Home California" and "Mean Machine" from Lemonade and Brownies was featured in the PlayStation game Road Rash 3D, and its Nintendo 64 counterpart Road Rash 64, respectively.[3]

Floored (1997–98)[edit]

Sugar Ray's first mainstream hit came in the summer of 1997 with their song "Fly", which was released from the album Floored and featured reggae musician Super Cat. "Fly" did not sound anything at all like the rest of the tracks on the album and received frequent radio play, resulting in a number one rank on the Billboard's Airplay List. As a result of the success of "Fly", Floored sold well and was certified double platinum. However, by the end of 1997, critics were skeptical that Sugar Ray could put out another successful song and labeled them a one-hit wonder.[2] The same year, Sugar Ray was featured in the movie Father's Day, starring Billy Crystal and Robin Williams. Floored featured nu metal elements and was their last album to contain heavy metal elements before they moved to a more pop rock direction.

14:59 (1999–2000)[edit]

Their 1999 album 14:59 was the band's reply to suggestions that they were a one-hit wonder, with the title implying that their 15 minutes of fame were not quite up — their "fame clock" read 14:59.[4] "Every Morning", which was widely compared to "Fly", had similar success during the spring of 1999, reaching number 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Their follow-up single "Someday" also enjoyed extensive airplay later that year and reached number 7 in the U.S. The next follow-up single "Falls Apart (Run Away)" reached number 29 in early 2000. 14:59 outsold its predecessor and was certified triple platinum. The band toured in support of the album, most notably performing at Woodstock 99.[5] After 14:59 in 2000, Sugar Ray teamed up with The Alkaholiks to contribute the track "Make Room" on the Rap Rock collaboration album, Loud Rocks, with other artists with a similar style such as Crazy Town and Incubus.

Sugar Ray (2001–02)[edit]

In 2000, Sugar Ray did a cover version of John Cale and Brian Eno's song "Spinning Away" for the soundtrack to the film The Beach. Their 2001 self-titled album Sugar Ray produced another hit with "When It's Over", which, although it failed to achieve the same level of success as their previous singles, still reached number 13 in the U.S. Other singles such as "Answer the Phone", "Under the Sun" and "Words to Me" gained some popularity as well. Sugar Ray also made several movie appearances, including Scooby-Doo in 2002.[citation needed]

In the Pursuit of Leisure (2003–05)[edit]

Sugar Ray's 2003 effort In the Pursuit of Leisure, and the first single from the album, "Mr. Bartender (It's So Easy)", received a lukewarm reception.[citation needed] The album also contained the band's cover of Joe Jackson's famous "Is She Really Going Out With Him?". ProHoeZak guested live with the band in 2003 having appeared on "Mr. Bartender (It's So Easy)". In 2005, Sugar Ray released a greatest hits album, with three new songs, "Shot of Laughter", "Time After Time", and "Psychedelic Bee".

Inactivity and Music for Cougars (2006–09)[edit]

After releasing their greatest hits album – The Best of Sugar Ray, in 2005, the band went into a period of relative inactivity for a number of years, with Mark McGrath starting a new job as an anchor on the television show Extra. In January 2006, Sugar Ray was released from their recording contract with Atlantic Records. In mid-2007, their previously unreleased song "Into Yesterday" was used on the Surf's Up movie soundtrack, and the band made brief tour in Asia in August 2007 where they headlined SingFest, Singapore's first international music festival.

Sugar Ray appeared on the May 18, 2008, season 3 finale of American Dad!, titled "Spring Break-Up", as themselves, playing "Fly" at a Spring Break party. They also starred in the first live-action Scooby-Doo movie as themselves performing the song "Words to Me".[citation needed]

On May 19, 2008, the band announced they would be entering the studio to record their first album of new material since 2003. Jason Bernard, a friend of the band (who also happened to be a music producer) brought them a deal to sign with his label. It was announced that the band signed Pulse Recordings and that the new album should be released in the summer of 2009.[6] On March 6, 2009, Mark McGrath announced that the new album would be titled Music for Cougars. It was released on July 21, 2009. The first single was "Boardwalk".[7]

Some critics noted that McGrath aimed to lower people's expectations for the album during its promotion by saying things like: "I know people aren't sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for a Sugar Ray album, but that wasn't the point." In another interview, Murphy Karges, bassist said, "We've never had any credibility. Nobody ever gave us any so how could we lose any?"[citation needed]

Lineup changes and 1990s nostalgia touring (2010–2015)[edit]

On August 22, 2010, Sugar Ray's Twitter page announced that Craig "DJ Homicide" Bullock had left the band.[8] In 2011, the band had what McGrath described as not "the highest-grossing year for Sugar Ray". Murphy Karges and Stan Frazier also left, one not wanting to tour anymore, and the other taking a job with Aaron Rodgers, a quarterback who had started up a Christian rock record label.[9] This left McGrath and Rodney Sheppard as the remaining original members.[10] The band recruited replacements in percussionist Al Keith, bassist Justin Bivona and drummer Jesse Bivona. The Bovinas, who are twins, had been replacement members in the past.[10][clarification needed]

In 2012, McGrath worked with Art Alexakis, frontman and vocalist of the band Everclear, on starting up a 1990s nostalgia tour, something they had discussed in the past but had always felt was too soon to be successful.[11] The result was the "Summerland" tour, featuring a line-up of alternative rock bands that "at least had a big hit or two" in the 1990s, containing McGrath and Alexakis's own bands along with Marcy Playground, Gin Blossoms, and Lit.[9][12] The tour was deemed a success, and McGrath initially spoke of the possibility of it becoming a yearly event.[12] Over the course of the tour, McGrath stated that he had been spending downtime writing new material, although he was not sure at that point if it would be Sugar Ray material, or "Mark McGrath solo" material.[12] By the end of the year, McGrath confirmed the band would start recording new material for an EP in January 2013,[13] aiming for a May release[14] or before the band's summer touring in 2013.[15] However, percussionist Al Keith left the band while they were preparing to record new material, delaying the recording sessions, and leaving Sugar Ray as a four-piece band.

In early January 2013, McGrath announced the "Mark McGrath & Friends" tour cruise, in which the band would perform alongside other 1990s alternative rock bands Smash Mouth, Spin Doctors, and Vertical Horizon, on a cruise ship.[16] However, by late February the plans were cancelled, citing the recent Carnival Cruise fiasco as a reason for the idea losing support.[17] Additionally, McGrath announced that he and Alexakis did not see eye to eye on the future direction for the "Summerland" tour, and so Sugar Ray would not be part of its 2013 incarnation.[18] McGrath instead chose to start his own rival 1990s nostalgia tour for Summer 2013, called "Under the Sun".[9]

On April 9, 2013, Mark McGrath announced via Twitter that he would be "heading to Pulse Recording Studios" to record the new material, and hoped for a July release date.[19] For the tour, Justin Bivona and Jesse Bivona were to be temporarily replaced by Serge Dmitrijevic and Dean Butterworth, as the Bivona brothers' band The Interrupters were opening for Rancid.

On November 9, 2013, Sugar Ray was to play a benefit for the Greater Los Angeles Fisher House at West LA's Wadsworth Theater.[20][21]

Sugar Ray performing

The band continued its "Under the Sun" tour through 2014. However, in June 2014, McGrath revealed that the band had been struggling with legal wranglings with Karges and Frazier since their departure in 2012, and that there will never be another Sugar Ray album.[22] However, Mark confirmed via Twitter that he would be releasing a solo EP during the summer in 2015.[23]

Musical style[edit]

The band's sound has been described as alternative rock,[24] pop rock,[25] alternative metal,[1] nu metal,[26] funk metal,[27] punk rock,[26] hardcore punk,[28] and skate punk.[29]



  • Mark McGrath – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion (1986–present)
  • Rodney Sheppard – lead guitar, backing vocals (1986–present)
  • Kristian Attard – bass, backing vocals (2016–present, touring 2014–2016)
  • Dean Butterworth – drums, percussion, programming, backing vocals (2016–present, touring 2013–2016)


  • Stan Frazier – drums, percussion, additional guitar, programming, backing vocals (1986–2012)
  • Murphy Karges – bass, additional guitar, backing vocals (1986–2012)
  • Craig "DJ Homicide" Bullock – turntables, samples, programming, keyboards, DJ, rapping, scratches, sound effects, backing vocals (1995–2010)
  • Al Keith – percussion (2010–2013)
  • Jesse Bivona – drums, percussion, programming, backing vocals (2012–2016)
  • Justin Bivona – bass, backing vocals (2012–2016)

Former touring musicians[edit]

  • Nic E Stewart – drums, percussion, backing vocals (summer fill-in) (1996)
  • Serge Dmitrijevic – bass, backing vocals (2013–2014)




  1. ^ a b Carter, Brooke (February 6, 2016). "What Happened to Sugar Ray – 2017 Update". Gazette Review. Retrieved August 23, 2017. From [Floored], their success as an alternative metal band only went up... 
  2. ^ a b c Huey, Steve (2002). "Sugar Ray – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  3. ^ "Road Rash 64". IGN. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Sugar Ray Coasts Low-Riding Groove For "Every Morning"". MTV News. 1999-01-26. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  5. ^ "Sugar Ray – Biography". Billboard. 2009-08-26. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  6. ^ Karges, Murphy (December 10, 2008). "November/December Update". Sugar Ray Blog. Wordpress. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved January 18, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Sugar Ray Returns With 'Music For Cougars'". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  8. ^ "Twitter / Sugar Ray: On behalf of SR family, we". 2010-08-22. Retrieved 2012-04-26. 
  9. ^ a b c Andy Greene (2013-02-12). "Mark McGrath: 'I Understand Why People Don't Like Me' | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  10. ^ a b "It's been almost a decade since Sugar Ray has". Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  11. ^ Sean Spillane (2012-07-24). "Sugar Ray part of Summerland Tour coming to Mohegan Sun Arena – Connecticut Post". Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  12. ^ a b c "Looking Past Summerland 2012 with Sugar Ray and Mark McGrath". 2012-09-21. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  13. ^ "Twitter / mark_mcgrath: Very productive songwriting". 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  14. ^ "Twitter / mark_mcgrath: Halfway through the EP, looks". Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  15. ^ "Twitter / mark_mcgrath: Writing session with Mr Rod". 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  16. ^ "Twitter / mark_mcgrath: Happy to announce the Mark". 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Andy Greene (2013-03-25). "2013 Summerland Tour Unites Everclear, Live, Filter | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  19. ^ "Twitter / mark_mcgrath: Going into Pulse Recording". Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  20. ^ "The Shows". Sugar Ray. Archived from the original on April 20, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  21. ^ [1] Archived October 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ "Home – Arena Music". Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Twitter". Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  24. ^ Wenzel, Nick (September 23, 2014). "Sugar Ray Serenades Students, Alumni". The Emory Wheel. 
  25. ^ Schulte, Stephanie (April 5, 2016). "SPA: Sugar Ray brings '90s nostalgia to Palm Springs with free show". The Press-Enterprise. 
  26. ^ a b "Top 10 Sell-Out Songs: You Can Actually Hear Artistic Integrity Disintergrate". Phoenix New Times.  (October 26, 2010)
  27. ^ Torre, Noelani (September 3, 2005). "Bright and breezy tracks". Philippine Daily Inquirer. p. 4. Originally a funk metal band (believe it or not), [Sugar Ray] released their first album, "Lemonade and Brownies," in 1995. 
  28. ^ "Sugar Ray". AllMusic. Retrieved December 1, 2015. 
  29. ^ Farber, Jim (January 17, 1999). "A Sugar Ray Knockout Punksters Score on 14:59 with a Melodic New Combination". New York Daily News. 

External links[edit]