10,000 Maniacs PhotoFORMED: 1981, Jamestown, NY

10,000 Maniacs (named after the low-budget horror movie 2,000 Maniacs) was formed in Jamestown, NY, in 1981 by singer Natalie Merchant and guitarist John Lombardo. Other members of the sextet were Robert Buck (guitar), Steven Gustafson (bass), Dennis Drew (keyboards), and Jerry Ausugstyniak (drums). The group gigged extensively and recorded independently before signing with Elektra and making The Wishing Chair in 1985. Cofounder Lombardo left the band in 1986, and they continued as a quintet, releasing the second album, In My Tribe, in 1987. This album broke into the charts, where it stayed 77 weeks, peaking at #37. Blind Man's Zoo, the 1989 follow-up, hit #13 and went gold.

After 1992's Our Time in Eden had finished its run on the charts, Natalie Merchant announced that she was leaving for a solo career. MTV Unplugged was released a few months after her departure. The remaining 10,000 Maniacs decided to continue performing, adding the folk-rock duo John & Mary (original member Lombardo and violinist/vocalist Mary Ramsey). The new lineup released Love Among the Ruins. Merchant released her first solo album, Tiger Lily, in the summer of 1995 and a follow-up, Ophelia in 1998. In 1999, the remaining Maniacs released The Earth Pressed Flat on Bar/None. Sadly a year later lead guitarist and founding member Robert Buck, who co-wrote some of the band's classics like "Hey Jack Kerouac" "What's The Matter Here?" and "These Are Days," died of liver failure. He was 42. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide