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The inside story of Hootie and the Blowfish

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Micheal McLaughlin
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Courtesy of the University of South Carolina Press
Hootie and the Blowfish

In 1985, Mark Bryan heard Darius Rucker singing in a dorm shower at the University of South Carolina and asked him to form a band. For the next eight years, Hootie & the Blowfish—completed by bassist Dean Felber and drummer Soni Sonefeld—played every frat house, roadhouse, and rock club in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, becoming one of the biggest independent acts in the region.

In Only Wanna Be with You (2022, USC Press), Tim Sommer, the ultimate insider who signed Hootie to Atlantic Records, pulls back the curtain on a band that defied record-industry odds to break into the mainstream by playing hacky sack music in the age of grunge.

He chronicles the band's indie days; the chart-topping success—and near-cancelation—of their major-label debut, cracked rear view; the year of Hootie (1995) when the album reached no. 1, the "Only Wanna Be with You" music video collaboration with ESPN's SportsCenter became a sensation, and the band inspired a plotline on the TV show Friends; the lean years from the late 1990s through the early 2000s; Darius Rucker's history-making rise in country music; and one of the most remarkable comeback stories of the century.

Tim Sommer shares the Hootie story with Walter Edgar.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.