Please join the Albumism team in celebrating Adam Duritz’s musical legacy and share your personal memories of him with us in the comments below!
Born: August 1, 1964
Biography (via AllMusic): Although he looked to Van Morrison and Bob Dylan for inspiration, Adam Duritz wrote melancholy lyrics more in sync with the world-weary perspective of post-grunge rock & roll. Duritz was born in Baltimore, MD, on August 1, 1964. In 1991, he formed Counting Crows with guitarist David Bryson in San Francisco, performing acoustic sets in coffeehouses. The duo eventually added bassist Matt Malley, guitarist Dan Vickrey, drummer Steve Bowman, and keyboardist Charles Gillingham. The band was equal parts roots rock and R.E.M. jangle, united by Duritz's sad, introspective songs.
Two years later, the group recorded their debut album, August and Everything After. The LP didn't catch on at first; the band was mainly played on adult alternative radio stations, which were then only a handful. But the upbeat "Mr. Jones" caught on with MTV in 1994 and the Generation X alternative rock fans who were getting burned out on the guitar-fueled hard stuff from Seattle. When the pensive ballad "Round Here" hit the airwaves, Duritz became the superstar he longed to be in "Mr. Jones."
What made Counting Crows unique was how they were able to balance Duritz's tortured lyrics with the sound of the late '60s and early '70s; it made them one of the few alternative bands to appeal to listeners who thought that rock & roll died in 1972. Recovering the Satellites followed in 1996, and "A Long December" was a Top Ten hit on both the Modern Rock and Adult Top 40 charts.
The band issued the two-disc Across a Wire: Live in New York in 1998, and the following year saw the release of Counting Crows' third studio album, This Desert Life. In the midst of recording and collaborating with Ryan Adams on his sophomore album, Gold, Duritz joined his band in the studio as well. The fruit of those sessions was the group's Steve Lillywhite-produced fourth album, Hard Candy.
The next year saw the release of the best-of Films About Ghosts, and in 2004 Counting Crows reminded fans of their ability to write a hit single with "Accidentally in Love," which appeared on the Shrek 2 soundtrack. Two years later, New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall, recorded from a show on February 6, 2003, was made available to the public. In 2008 the band issued Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, a concept record divided into two halves: the more rowdy, upbeat rock of Saturday night soundtracks and the mellow alt-country side of Sunday morning hangovers.
In 2009 the band parted ways with its longtime major-label home Geffen Records, but continued to tour and write new material as feverishly as ever. Duritz struggled with mental problems and prescription drug addiction following the split with Geffen, working on solo material that he released in part online. August and Everything After: Live at Town Hall, the band's third official live album, was released in 2011. To tide fans over until the release of an album of new material, the band offered up a collection of cover songs entitled Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation) in 2012 and yet another live album, Echoes of the Outlaw Roadshow, the following year. While touring in 2013 the group started to write material for what would become its seventh album. Recorded at the end of 2013 with producer Brian Deck, Somewhere Under Wonderland saw release in September 2014.