Last updated: 06/25/2012 12:00:00 PM
"Mr.Big got their start when William Roland Sheean (Billy) stepped away from David Lee Roth's first post-Van Halen band, after contributing to two albums and numerous major tours. The Buffalo, New York-born bassist had already honed his considerable skills during a decade spent touring with his band, Talas, but with the recruitment of Martin (Eric) in 1988, he knew the foundation for this ultimate musical venture was well in place. Martin (who was born in Long Island, New York, but grew up all over the world as an Army brat) had already ventured into the light, both with melodic rock-oriented Eric Martin Band, and as a more soul-leaning solo artist.
Growing up on U.S. military bases across Europe, the young Martin was introduced to the sounds of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. Such influences never ceased to define and motivate his musical pursuits - in his three previous albums, and shaping the character of Mr.Big. The group was made complete with talents of guitarist Gilbert and drummer Torpey. Hailing from Pittsburgh, Gilbert was already a well-respected guitarist who had released four highly-touted albums with his Los Angeles-based band, Racer X. Torpey came to California after playing his dues behind the kit in the Arizona rock community. He soon became a much sought-after road horse, touring with a number of high-profile artists, most notably Robert Plant.
Mr Big first broke ground in 1989 with their self-titled Atlantic Records debut, which received extensive radio play with the "Big Love" and "Addicted To That Rush" singles - the latter of which may have prompted labelmates Rush to invite the band on tour. The band returned in 1991 with "LEAN INTO IT", an album that further strengthened their reputation, and, in the process, went RIAA platinum.
The album's "To Be With You" single went #1 in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Holland, New Zeland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and in the U.S., where the three week chart-topper leapt RIAA gold. Released in 1993, the internationally acclaimed "BUMP AHEAD" garnered solid airplay with the group's deft handling of Cat Stevens' "Wild World." The subsequent tour saw the band opening for Aerosmith during dates across Europe, headlining in front of over 100,000 people at a festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and staging three sold-out shows at Tokyo's famed Budokan arena - complete with a Cheap Trick-inspired encore of "Ain't That A Shame." On "HEY MAN", the group brings forth expert chops, strong voice, and a new-found creative punch into album that reminds listeners exactly what it means rock."
But what happened in 1997?
As Eric Martin said, they needed to stop for a while and be on their own, with their family. In the meanwhile, each member of the band has been busy working on their projects: Eric Martin, published, in 1998, his solo album called "Somewhere in the middle" (Atlantis Records).
Featuring a lot of well known musician (Matt Sorum, Billy Duffy, Steve Lukhater and bandmates Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan for naming a few) Pat "Torpedo" Torpey released, in the same year as Eric, "Odd Man Out", his album, where you can really hear how he greatly sings and write songs; Pat also published his second work called "Y2K" featuring musician like Derek Sherinian and Pat Regan . Both were released only in Japan.
Billy, recorded three albums with Niacin, his critically acclaimed instrumental fusion trio, along with Dennis Chambers and John Novello; The 3 CDs are: "Niacin" dated 1997, "High Bias" 1998, and "Deep" 2000.
On "High Bias" you can hear guests like Pat Torpey, Alex Acu馻 and Chick Corea. "High Bias", with Lukather, has seen the appareance of the great Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple bassist and Black Sabbath lead singer), as the singer. Billy released a live (late 1998) with is old band Talas from their sold out show at Kleinhan's Music Hall in Buffalo, New York. Still in the works are a pair of upcoming Billy Sheehan solo albums: one to be a instrumental bass showcase, the other a more song-oriented rock album with Sheehan handling all vocal parts.
Paul Gilbert started his solo career with "King of Clubs" in 1998 with John Alderete, Bruce Bouillet his friends from RacerX and having Steve Martin (ex singer of RacerX) at the drumkit. This CD also features Pat Torpey.
In 1999 (Mr.Big 10th year's anniversary) the band decided for a reunion, but (sadly) Paul decided not to join back the band, deciding to continue to be a solo musician. "We never wanted to change the band but we didn't know what else to do," says Sheehan. "After a lot of talking between myself, Pat, and Eric, we decided to keep the band going. Once we'd settled that, Richie was the first guy to come to mind." So Richie Kotzen, which has played with Poison and released a few solo albums, joined the band and they released "Get Over It", a more bluesy oriented CD. The song "Superfantastic" has climbed up the top 10 in Japan becoming a great blockbuster single.
In the same times, Paul Gilbert has released "Beehive Live" a live CD recorded in Japan which included songs from "King of Clubs" and some brand new songs. In 1999 Paul has published "Flying Dog" and toured in Japan.
This year he has decided for a Racer X reunion and they recorded "Technical Difficulties" without Bruce Bouillet which is havining health problems with hands (best whishes Bruce!!). PG also released his third solo album called "Alligator Farm" on June 28 in Japan. Now he is planning to record another Racer X album.