The Afghan Whigs
Afghan Whigs at SK
Bio: A Little Bit of Soul
The Afghan Whigs may or may not have met in a jail cell; but the boys from Cincinnati, Ohio, did love trouble.
Original band members were: Rick McCollum (b. 14 July 1965, Kentucky, USA; guitar), Steven Earle (b. 28 March 1966, Cincinnati, USA; drums) and John Curley (b. 15 March 1965, Trenton, New Jersey, USA; bass), and frontman Greg Dulli (b. 11 May 1965, Ohio, USA; vocals/guitar).
After releasing an independent album (Big Top Halloween), the band was signed to Seattle’s famed Sub Pop Records. While their sound was gritty and raw, like their labelmates, the Whigs injected elements of country, blues, and most strikingly, R&B into their music. After two full-length releases and a slew of singles for Sub Pop, the band moved to the big leagues with their breakthrough album, Gentlemen.
Gentlemen drew heavily on the band’s past themes; but put a fresh spin on the traditional concept album. The videos for “Debonair” and “Gentlemen” got regular airplay on MTV. Steve Earle was replaced by Paul Buchignani.
Dulli, a closet actor and film fan, had a starring role as the voice of John Lennon in the film “Backbeat.” The band was rounded out with members of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and REM. The film streak continued as the Afghan Whigs performed in the movie “Beautiful Girls.” The film soundtrack was quickly followed with the release of “Black Love,” the Whigs second major label release.
Even darker than its predecessors, “Black Love” took the Whigs into corners and alleys, unraveling a noir drama. The funk infused “Going to Town” and striking “Honkey’s Ladder” proved their worth to fans; but did not manage to break through to radio success. Upset with the efforts of their label, the Whigs managed to break contract and head to Sony/Columbia.
In 1998, the Whigs released their most upbeat and pop album, 1965. The musicianship and fierceness were still there; but they were prefaced with a new, fun attitude. The band was also joined by a new drummer, Michael Horrigan. Critics loved the album, and the tour supporting it was possibly the best of their career.
Citing “geographic differences,” the band split up in 2001.
Dulli continues to create music with the Twilight Singers, and as a solo artist. He also owns the Shortstop bar in Los Angeles. John Curley runs Ultrasuede Studios in Cincinnati, and Rick McCollum lives in Minneappolis.