Origin: Waukesha, Wisconsin
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BoDeans all began when Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas met at Waukesha South High School in 1977. Yes, another fateful high school get together that’s lasted 34 years, quite some time.
How did the duo’s band get its name? Sam often explains that he got the name from The Beverly Hillbillies character Jethro Bodine. For Kurt, BoDeans conjured up the image of rock n’ roll icons Bo Diddley and James Dean for a familial name, similar to The Smiths and The Connells. Early on, Neumann and Llanas were often credited as Beau and Sammy BoDean.
1983, “Da BoDeans” began playing around Milwaukee’s East Side music scene along with a hired drummer and bass player. The band practiced in the garage of Mark McCraw, a mutual friend who soon became their manager and provided financial support during the early years.
In 1985 labels began to make offers, and the band chose to sign a contract with Slash/Warner Records. After signing, the label suggested that they shorten their name to simply “BoDeans.” Under the guidance of producer T-Bone Burnett, they entered Hollywood’s Sunset Sound Factory in October to record their first album. Burnett focused on capturing the band’s natural sound without many additional overdubs. The band later expressed their regret for not being able to spend more time on the production, but high studio costs kept the sessions concise. The critically acclaimed debut Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams was released in 1986.
BoDeans mix midwestern roots rock with elements of adult contemporary pop, fashioning a sound that earned critical acclaim during the ’80s and commercial recognition during the following decade.
Around the time of Blend’s release in 1996, “Closer to Free”–a song that had originally appeared on 1993’s Go Slow Down–became a hit, due in large part to its exposure as the theme song for the TV show “Party of Five.” “Closer to Free” eventually cracked the Top 20, becoming the most successful single of the band’s career. The BoDeans were arguably more popular than ever, but the band took a break during the late ’90s, with both frontmen devoting time to their solo careers.
Four more albums were issued while various changes in players happened over the next six years.
The good times apparently could not last forever and in 2011 Sam Llanas departed, citing “differences of opinion.” The band’s 11th studio album, American Made, arrived the following year on the band’s own Free & Alive label, and was the first with Neumann as sole leader. The revamped band’s next album “I Can’t Stop” dropped three years later featuring new members, Sam Hawksley on guitar and backing vocals, plus a familiar drummer from previous recording sessions, Kenny Aronoff as a permanent addition.
On June 17, 2016, the band released the single “My Hometown” from their forthcoming 13th studio album titled “Thirteen”, which is due to be released on April 21, 2017. The release benefits the Milwaukee County Historical Society, which opened a BoDeans exhibit the same day.
As soon as BoDeans management releases their next video for the track, “Everybody Wants” now airing on K-ZAP, we’ll link it here.
Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams (1986)
Outside Looking In (1987)
Black and White (1991)
Go Slow Down (1993)
Mr. Sad Clown (2010)
Indigo Dreams (2011)
American Made (2012)
I Can’t Stop (2015)