Widely hailed as one of the most important alternative rock bands of the past 30 years, 10,000 Maniacs gave rise to the genre of college rock and helped alternative music become its own separate entity on the music scene. The band formed in 1981 and the group's original members included Robert Buck, Dennis Drew, Steven Gustafson, John Lombardo and Natalie Merchant. The group encompassed many of the trends that became popular during the 1980s, including powerful, socially conscious themes while still remaining catchy, danceable and accessible to a wide range of audiences.
10,000 Maniacs released their first EP in 1982 dubbed Human Conflict Number Five, and their first full record, Secrets of the I Ching in 1983. While the records did not receive a huge amount of airtime in the United States, "My Mother the War" from the band's first full-length album did catch on the U.K. and the group would spend the majority of 1983 and 1984 touring around the world. Finally, in 1985, the band signed with Elektra Records and released their second full-length album, The Wishing Chair. Although the record did not chart highly or fly off the shelves, it was critically acclaimed and gave the band a strong foundation to build on.
In 1987, 10,000 Maniacs had their first breakthrough album, In My Tribe, which peaked at No. 37 on the charts and would be a rousing commercial success for the band. The singles "Like The Weather" and "What's the Matter Here" would receive considerable airtime and the group set off on tour soon after the album's release. In 1989, the band would take their celebrity one step further with the release of Blind Man's Zoo, which would peak at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and would feature the single, "Trouble Me," which would be the band's highest-charting single of their career.
After recording an MTV: Unplugged album that would break into the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 albums chart, Natalie Merchant left the band in 1993 to pursue a solo career and the 10,000 Maniacs were left to rebuild the band. She was replaced by singer-violinist Mary Ramsey, who has done a wonderful job recreating Merchant's energy and grace onstage. The 10,000 Maniacs are still on tour and recording and are one of the rare acts that have stuck with a winning formula and kept a generation of fans firmly in their corner.