Matchbox Twenty lead singer and solo performer Rob Thomas was born (February 14, '72) to military parents stationed in Landstuhl, West Germany.
Following the tour of duty, Rob's family returned to the U.S. and settled in the southeast. In high school Thomas fronted several bands and was influenced by R.E.M., Elvis Costello and Al Green. Between the ages of seventeen and twenty, Thomas roamed around hitch-hiking. His family had problems, his relationships had problems and inserting some distance (both physical and mental) seemed like a good idea. Later, these experiences/frustrations surfaced in his songs.
Thomas spent a lot of nights sitting on freeway on-ramps waiting for the next ride. He used this time to write songs or, if he was tired of that, just go a little crazy and start screaming. There was no one around. What did it matter?
Thomas eventually teamed up with Kyle Cook (guitar/vocals), Adam Gaynor (rhythm guitar/vocals), Brian Yale (bass) and Paul Doucette (drums) to form Matchbox Twenty. Yale and Doucette had played with Thomas in a couple bands.
"Yourself Or Someone Like You" was the group's debut effort, selling over ten million CDs. Riding that popularity, Thomas sang "Smooth" for Carlos Santana's "Supernatural" CD. He wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music with Itaal Shur. It was '99's longest running #1 single (12 weeks) on the Billboard Hot 100. Next up was Matchbox Twenty's '01 release "Mad Season" and '02's "More Than You Think You Are."
Thomas took a full-on solo turn with "Something To Be" in '05. The album went to #1 on the Billboard album chart. It was the first time a solo album released by a male artist from a group made its debut in the top slot. In addition, the single "Lonely No More" managed to crack the Billboard Top 10. "This Is How A Heart Breaks" didn't have much chart success but the song was chosen by ABC for their broadcasts of the NBA Play-Offs.
Aside from a solo tour, Thomas also appeared at '05's Live 8 in Philly and the MTV Katrina Relief Concert to benefit hurricane victims.
Thomas' solo set was followed by two Matchbox Twenty live offerings, "A Night In The Life Of Matchbox Twenty" and "EP." Matchbox Twenty issued their "greatest hits" in '07, "Exile From Mainstream." They also released a six-track EP of new songs produced by Steve Lillywhite (U2).
During a late '08 Billboard interview Thomas discussed his sophomore solo effort "Cradlesong." "(It's) the usual mish-mosh of styles, but hopefully just holding true to a bunch of good songs." Thomas added that he'd been influence by South American and African percussionists and that the album had a "more global, rhythmic direction." But true to Thomas' lyrical leanings many of the songs dealt with troubled relationships.
"Cradlesong" dropped in June, '09. In all, 24 tracks were recorded for the album with 14 making the final cut. Among them were the songs "Her Diamonds," "Give Me The Meltdown" and "Fire On The Mountain."
Thomas performed "Her Diamonds" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Despite this and other promotional efforts that encompassed Twitter and iTunes, not to mention a handful of TV interviews, "Cradlesong," with its world beat influences, didn't do as well as "… Something To Be," but it still went double platinum.
"Cradlesong" was followed by the EP "Someday." Thomas burnished his TV resume with an appearance on "Live From Daryl's House" (hosted by Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates fame). He also played himself on a segment of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and occasionally guested on Real Time with Bill Maher. But all this activity didn't do much for "Someday." Like the EP "… Something More," five years earlier, it barely made a dent.
More TV came Thomas' way in '12 when he served as an "advisor" on the NBC singing competition The Voice.
With Matchbox Twenty producer Matt Serletic at the controls, "The Great Unknown" dropped in '15. The album received a lukewarm "doesn't disappoint" review from Rolling Stone magazine.
The public felt differently. The set, which featured the singles "Trust Me," "Hold On Forever" and "Pieces," went to #6 on the Billboard 200.
2005 ...Something To Be
2015 The Great Unknown
2005 ...Something More
In '09, Rolling Stone magazine dubbed Thomas the "new" Phil Collins (Genesis) - the frontman from a "name" band who takes a pop turn and is remarkably successful at it. That's Thomas.