"He was this towering figure in a black leather jacket," Leen says. Doug Hopkins with the Gin Blossoms singing theme to F-Troop and Scooby Doo during a guitar string change. ", Remembering the Mill Avenue music scene of the '90s, How Roger Clyne became an Arizona legend — and why he stayed, Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. “We fortunately just had a big hit with [‘Til I Hear It From You’], so [the label was] pretty happy,” he says.

[4] With "Found Out About You" following a few months later, the album eventually reached multi-platinum status.[5]. Edit Release New Submission . The Rarities Album was released separately in Abbreviated form in 2010 as Rarities, missing the three cuts from Dusted.

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. His name might be less familiar than those of his former bandmates who went on to form the Gin Blossoms. “There was so much bad information that got out there,” he said. "He said, 'Your singer reminds me of my old boss,' meaning Jim Morrison," Leen recalls.

Many critics felt Congratulations I’m Sorry was conventional, or an attempt to recreate what made New Miserable Experience so successful. "That was October (1993) and Doug was gone in December. “Follow You Down,” the album’s lead-off single, was a radio smash. But Leen and Hopkins stayed on the path, one that eventually wound its way around to the Gin Blossoms, the most successful act of a pivotal moment in the history of Phoenix music. And it was like, 'You are!'". "He was the only guy we knew who could sing, he looked like a singer, and he had a notebook full of songs he'd written," Leen recalls.

Sign Up ›. "He doted on me, my sister, our children, his children," Valerie says. Terms, "Nobody had heard it. With "Found Out About You" following a few months later, the album eventually reached multi-platinum status.

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My parents loved him. Valenzuela doesn’t go so far as to say Congratulations I’m Sorry is underrated, but he is still very proud of it. The song’s B-side, “Seeing Stars,” was written by Wilson as a tribute to Hopkins. So that's saying a lot.". When Hopkins felt the time had come to move on from the punk rock covers they'd been learning and start working on their own material, he turned to Flower's notebook full of lyrics.

", His bandmates fired him during the recording of that 1992 release. Local musician Lawrence Zubia tells a story about Doug Hopkins, in which Hopkins hops a slow-moving freight train at Mill Avenue, intending to jump off when it neared his Tempe apartment. "And it was so much better than ours. He didn’t want the band to find success off his songs.

This was important in our 20s.". 'Monique LeShea' and '100 Summers' are still two of my favorite songs. "Rich sang it. "But boy, could that guy sing.". “I think the first record is the postcard of the band,” he says, “I think [Congratulations I’m Sorry] did pretty well, considering. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. ", Shipp found it funny that his friend would draw the line at "Be True to Your School. When that version of the Psalms group broke up, they returned a few months later with Flower on vocals.

Valenzuela’s response, tinged with annoyance, comes in the form of another question: “You can’t fathom what it would be like going on tour after that?”. Most of them want to forget about their high school. ", Smith says he's convinced, in fact, that "if that band had stuck it out, they would have been what the Gin Blossoms became.

It was risky.". "He had his kids. "So he said, 'I can't go on this adventure with you guys,'" Valerie recalls. Rolling Stone praised the album, saying it "sounds both fresh and highly personal. "He was in love," she says. "And Rich was against the idea. Before Doug Hopkins tragically committed suicide in 1993, he would often tell his friends that the Gin Blossoms were ripping him off. But for him, it just seemed like a natural thing.". '", Smith says, "He looked like a modern take on the accepted version of what Jesus Christ looks like. And I would always feel like a turd saying (expletive) things about people around him. He says he doesn’t sit around listening to his records thinking about the past. "He loved it more than most people. Because of Richard. Before Doug Hopkins tragically committed suicide in 1993, he would often tell his friends that the Gin Blossoms were ripping him off. "We were gonna do 'Be True to Your School' like the Ramones did 'Do You Wanna Dance,'" Leen says.

"Richard didn't say anything between songs. They had a strong desire to write a collection of songs that stood well on their own. I don’t think that label was standing in the way of it. He’s proud of his bandmates’ deft songwriting skills. He'd figured out how to create a safety net for himself and his family," Smith says. “But if one takes an artist and puts him on the road for a 15-month tour, and shortly thereafter for another, larger 15-month tour, and you add the fact that all of the money coming in kind of relaxes the old anxiety of youth, you now have a major song problem. CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS: California Privacy Policy | California Collection Notice | Do Not Sell My Info. "It was brilliant," says Swafford, who would rejoin Leen and Hopkins three years later in Ten O'Clock Scholars after briefly rehearsing with Hopkins and Flower in an early edition of Algebra Ranch. And Rich was just a fixture at my parents' house.

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Fans didn’t seem to mind. Smith was in awe of the way his friend transitioned to a life outside the spotlight.

He'd be like, 'I'm not!' “If the phone woke me up around 3 or 4 in the morning, it would usually be John with a crazy idea,” Valenzuela remembers with a laugh, “He was a very sweet man. I think it’s done okay … It’s not something that would have kept me up at night.”. But he had all these handwritten lyrics and could sing them to you.".

Valenzuela’s answers usually begin with some variation of the following phrases: “I guess,” “I don’t know,” and “That was a long time ago.” He makes songwriting and touring sound like nothing more than a job.

The band was asked by A&M Records to record a single for the soundtrack to the 1995 film Empire Records.

So he quit. "He still had the best voice of anybody we knew," Leen says. Flower's health had been declining since 2003, when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Get the latest updates in news, food, music and culture, and receive special offers direct to your inbox, Phoenix Restaurant Directory: Takeout/Delivery/Dine-in, Joe's Grotto: An Oral History of Phoenix's Now-Defunct Metal Haven, The Five Best Songs by Phoenix Musicians in October 2020, 20 Years Ago, the Gin Blossoms Released Their First Album After Doug Hopkins’ Death, Uranus Recording of Tempe Closes With Great Performances From Gin Blossoms, Rembrandts, and Tempe Rock Lifers, New Music from AJJ, Jared & The Mill, Diners, and More. He passed away in late 2014. ", TIME OF HARMONY:Remembering the Mill Avenue music scene of the '90s. His name might be less familiar than those of his former bandmates who went on to form the Gin Blossoms. Privacy, Help, Don't have an account yet? ©2020 Phoenix New Times, LLC. While sales of Congratulations I’m Sorry didn’t match its predecessor, it moved enough copies to be considered a success. But it's the first one Bill Leen and Doug Hopkins considered when choosing a singer for their first of several bands together, setting in motion events that would lead to Tempe jangle-pop stars the Gin Blossoms' quadruple-platinum breakthrough album "New Miserable Experience.". Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. In addition to Valerie, Flower is survived by two other siblings, Larry and Patricia, and two daughters, Emily, 23, and Amanda, 20. And he's probably sitting up in heaven with Doug.". The majority of the songs rely on a melody-driven pop style, while the final track, "Cheatin'", leans into country music. Valerie says her brother left the Psalms because Hopkins started to "have his decline with his drinking" and Flower and his girlfriend at the time didn't want any part of it. The spirit of Hopkins, who struggled with depression and alcoholism for several years, followed the Gin Blossoms as they began work on their follow-up, Congratulations I’m Sorry.

He remembers the band being told they shouldn’t include the single so that Congratulations I’m Sorry would be a pure album. We didn’t have everything that we had in the initial presentation. Despite this setback, Congratulations I’m Sorry combined words of pain and longing with jangly power-pop that could bring smiles through the sadness. Valerie says her brother was perfectly happy working at Sears and focusing on family life. "Doug liked melodic voices," Swafford says.

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"Those were some of the best years," he says. But he's not in pain anymore. He was tall and lithesome. "If he and Doug had stayed together, Richard could have been the Robin Wilson. Careers, “Maybe [the song] shouldn’t be on the record. There are memories of sleeping in good hotels and bad apartments. "Richard could've had a substantial career as a singer," he says. "It's taken me years to figure that (expletive) out. There were hints of humor, like the sound of a stadium organ playing during track seven, appropriately titled “7th Inning Stretch.” There was hope amongst the clutter and the gloom. Staff, But the train picked up speed and Hopkins ended up in Tucson, where he spent the night drinking at a bar in Hotel Congress before taking a bus back to Phoenix.

Valenzuela recalls one point of contention between the band and the label: They couldn’t include “Til I Hear It From You” on the album. He could sing Doug Hopkins' melodies perfectly.

Just as the album was becoming a success at the end of 1993, Hopkins died by suicide.

Valerie Flower, Richard's sister, says it was a "weird" experience to see her little brother front a band. The band broke up the following year with the memory of their friend continuing to linger over them.

Enter your email or sign up with a social account to get started, Phoenix's independent source of local news and culture. Get the most out of your experience with a personalized all-access pass to everything local on events, music, restaurants, news and more. "And he loved his girls fiercely. "That record Alice Cooper produced for Gentlemen Afterdark came out and the Psalms EP came out," he says. According to Hampton, the label was concerned that including the song on the record would diminish sales for the Empire Records soundtrack. "Before life got too serious. The album, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, came along four long years after the release of their successful major-label debut, which included touring in support of New Miserable Experience for over a year.

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