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John Rzeznik
JohnRzeznik.jpg
John Rzeznik performing at a Dallas, Texas concert on August 31, 2007.
Background information
Birth name John Joseph Theodore Rzeznik
Origin Buffalo, New York,
United States New York United States
Genres Rock, Alternative rock
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, guitarist
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1986 to present
Labels Metal Blade Records
Warner Music
Warner Bros. Records
Associated acts The Goo Goo Dolls
Website GooGooDolls.com

John Rzeznik (born John Joseph Theodore Rzeznik on December 5, 1965 in Buffalo, New York and also known as Johnny Rzeznik) is an American songwriter, guitarist, vocalist and sometime producer. He is best known as the frontman of rock band the Goo Goo Dolls, of whom he is a founder member and with whom he has recorded eight studio albums.

Biography[edit]

Early Life[edit]

John was born on December 5, 1965 in Buffalo, New York, the youngest of five children, to Joseph and Edith Rzeznik (pronounced "Res-nik" and meaning 'butcher' in Polish[1]). Joseph was a postal worker, and Edith a schoolteacher, and both were musicians, playing clarinet and flute respectively. Rzeznik had a strict Catholic upbringing on Buffalo's working-class East Side. Rzeznik's father died from complications of alcoholism at the age of fifty five when John was fourteen years old. Just over a year later his mother died from a sudden heart attack - by the age of only sixteen John had lost both of his parents and was to be brought up by his four older sisters - Phyllis, Fran, Glad and Kate. It was during this period and while attending high school that John picked up what would become a life-long hobby and vocation, playing the guitar. Soon after he would get an apartment on his own and become a punk. In 1986 while studying to become a plumber at Buffalo's McKinley Vocational High School he would form the band that would become the Goo Goo Dolls with Robby Takac and George Tutuska. Previously John had been in a band with Robby's cousin, called The Beaumonts[2]. The band were originally called the Sex Maggots, but this was changed on a whim to The Goo Goo Dolls (for an ad in a True Detective magazine) when a concert promoter asked them to, fearing the local newspapers would not print an advert for a show featuring a band with such a name.

The Goo Goo Dolls - The Early Days[edit]

In the early days the band gigged relentlessly, with Robby as the frontman (Rzeznik would gradually transition to frontman over the next few albums, as each new album would contain 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 (later the re-prints would be referred to as "First Release") on a $750 budget. This would attract the attention of a larger record label, Metal Blade, who would release their next few albums. For the next few years the band would tour, produce albums and hold down regular jobs. In 1990 he met his future wife, fashion model Laurie Farinacci, also from Buffalo, who he would marry in 1993. Despite the band receiving regular airplay on college radio, it wouldn't be until 1995's A Boy Named Goo that they would have a major hit. That hit came with the release of the single "Name", an accoustic ballard sung by Rzeznik which recieved massive airplay and led to platinum sales for the album. Despite the success of the album the band were unsatisfied with their contract with Metal Blade, which they felt to be exploitive. Reportedly the album had sold two million copies and yet the band had only recieved $6,000 in royalties. The band began legal proceeding against Metal Blade that would last for two years, and result in the band being released from their contract to sign with Metal Blade's parent company, Warner Bros[3].

Writer's Block and the release of Iris[edit]

Following the success of A Boy Named Goo, Rzeznik suffered a severe case of writer's block. Disillusioned with the music business following the legal dispute with his record company and under pressure to repeat the success of the previous album, Rzeznik's writer's block became so severe he visited a pyschiatrist in an effort to overcome it[4]. His writer's block was finally overcome, when in 1997 the band were released from their contract with Metal Blade to sign with Warner Bros, and approached to write a song for the soundtrack to the film City of Angels. Rzeznik watched the film and was inspired to write Iris, which would become the band's biggest hit and signature song. The film and song were both a huge success, with Iris spending a record eighteen weeks at the top of the Hot 100 Airplay Chart. The band followed up with the hit album Dizzy Up The Girl, which in addition to Iris contained another 4 Top 10 singles and sold over 3 million copies.

Divorce and the release of Gutterflower[edit]

In 2002 Rzeznik would divorce from his wife. This event would influence his songwriting for the band's next album Gutterflower, which was considered to be somewhat darker lyrically than the previous album. This album was also a success, though not on the scale of Dizzy Up The Girl or A Boy Named Goo, going Gold and producing the hit singles Here Is Gone, Big Machine and Sympathy.

Following the album Gutterflower, Rzeznik wrote "Always Know Where You Are" and "I'm Still Here" for the Disney film Treasure Planet,[5] which were also released as a single independently from the band.

In recent times, Rzeznik has focused some of his attention on producing music for various artists including Andy Stochansky and Ryan Cabrera. He wrote songs for Ryan Cabrera's debut album Take It All Away. The traditional Goo Goo Dolls sound is very evident on Cabrera's song "Illusions". He has also written for Blessed Union of Souls, Anastacia, Zoe Scott, and many more.

2007 - The Next Great American Band[edit]

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.[6]


Musical Style[edit]

Influences[edit]

Growing up most of the music Rzeznik listened to was influenced by his sisters, and comprised mostly of clasic rock such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Kinks. Later the youngest of his four older sisters would move towards punk music and he would become interested in bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash[7]. Rzeznik attributes his gift for melody to listening to bands such as KISS and Cheap Trick in the early 1980s[8]. However, perhaps the greatest influence on Rzeznik's songwriting is Paul Westerberg[9], with whom he co-wrote the song "We Are The Normal" and whose band, The Replacements, the Goo Goo Dolls have often been compared to.

Guitar Tunings[edit]

Rzeznik is well known for his distinctive and unusual guitar tunings. Many of his songs, particularly the more accoustic oriented ones, are performed with his guitars tuned to an open chord, with several of the strings tuned to the same note, but in different octaves. This gives the guitar a shimmery, jangly sound almost like a 12-string guitar. Perhaps the most famous example of this is his signature hit Iris, but other examples include Name, Black Balloon, Slide and Here Is Gone.

Songwriting[edit]

Rzeznik believes that writing is not just an inspirational thing 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 that his songs are often both biographical and autobiographical.[10]


Notable performances[edit]

At the 2004 Fashion Rocks! concert in New York, Rzeznik performed a duet version of the song Iris with Canadian pop singer Avril Lavigne.[11]

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 thousand of whom attended. The day quickly became a city triumph when rain came pouring down during their performance. It turned out to be the worst rain storm Buffalo had seen in over twenty years, 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 4th 2004.

Rzeznik also performed a version of U2's "All I Want is You" on the album Les Paul and Friends.

Equipment[edit]

Rzeznik has used many different guitar brands and models over the years. On Superstar Car Wash, he endorsed ESP guitars. The liner notes of A Boy Named Goo list Epiphone as his guitar of choice. Since the late '90s, Rzeznik has been using Fender guitars. He used many variations such as the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar and a "Halfcaster" (a Stratocaster cut in half). He used Guild acoustics as well.

As of late he seems to be experimenting the Gibson Les Paul guitars and semi hollow body guitars. He also uses acoustic Taylor guitars.

Discography[edit]

Main article: The Goo Goo Dolls

Collaborations/Individual Discography[edit]


References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "English Polish Dictionary". Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  2. ^ "Goo Goo Dolls FAQ". Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  3. ^ "Goo Goo Dolls Lawsuit Coming To A Head". Rolling Stone. Apr 12, 1997. Retrieved 2008-03-04.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ "From Boys To Men". CityBeat.com. May 06, 1999. Retrieved 2008-03-04.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ Flick, Larry (December 7, 2002), "Soundtracks", Billboard: 16  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ "The Next Great American Band Official Website". Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  7. ^ Hall, Russell (July 23, 2007). "The Music Blog". independentmail.com. Retrieved 2008-03-04.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ Hall, Russell (July 23, 2007). "The Music Blog". independentmail.com. Retrieved 2008-03-04.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ "John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls". ascap.com. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  10. ^ "John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls". www.ascap.com. 2000. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  11. ^ Critchell, Samantha (September 9, 2004). "Fashion Rocks at Radio City Hall". music.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2007-08-11.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ 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]


Category:1965 births Category:Living people Category:American guitarists Category:American male singers Category:American rock singer-songwriters Category:Americans of Polish descent Category:People from Buffalo, New York