Sugar Ray


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Sugar Ray was formed in Orange County in 1992. Guitarist Rodney Sheppard, bassist Murphy Karges, and drummer Stan Frazier had been playing parties together in a hard rock/heavy metal cover band, Shrinky Dinx, since the late '80s. Karges served as the touring bassist of L.A. punk veterans the Weirdos in 1990. Friend Mark McGrath became the lead singer of Shrinky Dinx after jumping up on-stage to perform one night, and they soon began collaborating on original material. The band played around the L.A./San Diego area, building up a following, and got one of its friends to finance a music video for one of its original tunes; it wound up getting them a deal with Atlantic in 1994. The threat of legal action by Milton Bradley, which owned the rights to the original Shrinky Dinks toy, forced the band to change its name to Sugar Ray (after boxer Sugar Ray Leonard). Around the same time, they began augmenting their live shows with the turntables of Craig Bullock, aka DJ Homicide, who later became an official member of the group.

Belying their origins as a raucous funk metal band, Sugar Ray turned out several of the most breezily infectious summer singles of the late '90s, hitting on an appealing combination of sunny pop, lightly funky hip-hop grooves, and reggae lilt. Pegged as likely one-hit wonders after their 1997 breakthrough smash "Fly," Sugar Ray managed to maintain their career momentum far longer than many observers expected, helped in no small part by the teen-mag pinup looks of lead singer Mark McGrath.

Sugar Ray released their debut album, Lemonade and Brownies, in the spring of 1995. Their next album, Floored, became double-platinum hit thanks to "Fly," a laid-back groove tailor-made for summertime. Sugar Ray delivered their third album at the beginning of 1999. The title, 14:59, was a wry reference to Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" dictum, but as it turned out, the group's time wasn't up by a long shot. 14:59 wound up outselling its predecessor, eventually going triple platinum. In 2001, the million-selling Sugar Ray found the band in a sunshiny state of mind, blending laidbck island rhythms, funky hip-hop grooves, and infectious melodies into their unique pop/rock cocktail. The fresh grooves of In The Pursuit of Leisure followed in 2003.

Best Sugar Ray Songs of All Time