NRBQ is an American rock band founded in 1967. It is known for its live performances, containing a high degree of spontaneity and levity, and blending rock, pop, jazz, blues and Tin Pan Alley styles. Its best known line-up is the 1974_1994 quartet of pianist Terry Adams, bassist Joey Spampinato, guitarist Al Anderson, and drummer Tom Ardolino. 2004 saw the beginning of a several-year-long hiatus interrupted only by a few reunion performances, while band members pursued other projects. In 2011, the band returned with keyboardist Adams as the only member from any previous lineup.
The abbreviation “NRBQ” stands for New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (originally Quintet).
The band’s music is a blend of styles from rockabilly to Beatles-influenced pop to Thelonious Monk-inspired jazz. They have attracted fans as diverse as Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Keith Richards and Penn and Teller. NRBQ songs have been performed by Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, and Dave Edmunds, among many others. In addition, the group served as the unofficial “house band” for The Simpsons for the season 10-12 period in which NRBQ fan Mike Scully was head writer and executive producer. NRBQ allowed several of their songs to be used on The Simpsons, including “Mayonnaise and Marmalade”, written specifically for the show. The band also appeared in animated form as well as on camera during the end credits to perform the show’s theme song during the episode “Take My Wife, Sleaze” as well as Edmunds’ cover of “Me & The Boys”. The band also recorded a song entitled “Birdman” for an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast entitled “Pilot”. The group appeared in feature films, including Day of the Dead, Shakes the Clown, and 28 Days. Their song “Down in my Heart” was featured in the series finale of Wilfred.
NRBQ’s has a devoted following from many years of live shows. The band never works with a set list, so fans never knew what songs to expect. In addition to its own compositions, the band performs a broad range of cover material and audience requests.
The band made only one appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in its nearly 40-year recording career (“Get That Gasoline Blues” reached No. 70 in 1974.) More than once, NRBQ garnered a major-label record deal, only to be dropped after one or two albums due to poor sales. Over the years, the group played sets while wearing pajamas, hired professional wrestler “Captain” Lou Albano as its manager (for whom they penned a song in tribute), and exploded Cabbage Patch Dolls on stage.
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