John Joseph Theodore Rzeznik (born on in Buffalo, New York and also known as Johnny Rzeznik) is an songwriter, lead guitarist, vocalist and sometime producer. He is best known as the frontman] of rock band] the Goo Goo Dolls], of whom he is a founding member and with whom he has recorded eight studio albums.
Rzeznik, the youngest of five children, was born to Joseph and Edith Rzeznik (pronounced REZ-nik" and meaning 'butcher' in Polish). Joseph was a postal worker, and Edith a schoolteacher, and both were musicians, playing clarinet and flute respectively. Rzeznik had a strict Catholic upbringing on Buffalo's working-class East Side. Rzeznik's father died from complications of alcoholism at the age of fifty five when Rzeznik was fourteen years old. Just over a year later his mother died from a sudden heart attack. Having lost both of his parents, he was to be brought up by his four older sisters: Phyllis, Fran, Glad and Kate. It was during this period and while attending high school that Rzeznik began playing the guitar. Soon after he would get an apartment on his own and become a punk.
Goo Goo DollsEdit
In 1986, while studying to become a plumber at Buffalo's McKinley Vocational High School, he formed the band that became the Goo Goo Dolls with Robby Takac. Previously John had been in a band with Takac's cousin, called The Beaumonts. The band was originally called The Sex Maggots, but this was changed on a whim to The Goo Goo Dolls (from an ad in a True Detective magazine) when a concert promoter asked them to, fearing the local newspapers would not print an advert for a show featuring a band with such a name.
In the early days of The Goo Goo Dolls, the band performed at gigs relentlessly, with Robby as the frontman (Rzeznik gradually becoming the frontman over the next few albums, as each new album contained more songs sung by Rzeznik than the last). They were soon picked up by a small record label, Celluloid. Under Celluloid they released their first eponymous album (later the re-prints would be referred to as "First Release") on a $750 budget. This attracted the attention of a larger record label, Metal Blade, who released their next few albums. For the next few years the band toured, produced albums and held down regular jobs. In 1990 he met his future wife, fashion model Laurie Farinacci, also from Buffalo, whom he married in 1993. Despite the band receiving regular airplay on college radio, it wasn't until 1995's A Boy Named Goo that they had a major hit. That hit came with the release of the single "Name", an acoustic ballad sung by Rzeznik which received massive airplay and led to platinum sales for the album. Despite the success of the album the band were unsatisfied with their contract with Metal Blade, which they felt to be exploitative. Reportedly the album had sold two million copies and yet the band had only received $6,000 in royalties. The band began taking legal action against Metal Blade that lasted for two years, and resulted in the band being released from their contract to sign with Metal Blade's parent company, Warner Bros. Records.
Following the success of A Boy Named Goo, Rzeznik suffered a severe case of writer's block. Disillusioned with the music business following the legal dispute with his record company and under pressure to repeat the success of the previous album, Rzeznik's writer's block became so severe he visited a psychiatrist in an effort to overcome it. He had overcome his writer's block when the band were released from their contract with Metal Blade to sign with Warner Bros. Records in 1997, and approached to write a song for the soundtrack to the film City of Angels. Rzeznik watched the film and was inspired to write "Iris", which would become the band's biggest hit and signature song. The film and song were both a huge success, with Iris spending a record eighteen weeks at the top of the Hot 100 Airplay Chart. The band followed up with the hit album Dizzy Up The Girl, which in addition to "Iris" contained another 4 Top 10 singles and sold over 3 million copies.
In 2002 Rzeznik was divorced from his wife. This event influenced his songwriting for the band's next album Gutterflower, which was considered to be somewhat darker lyrically than the previous album. This album was also a success, though not on the scale of Dizzy Up the Girl or A Boy Named Goo, going Gold and producing the hit singles "Here Is Gone," "Big Machine," and "Sympathy."
Following the album Gutterflower, Rzeznik wrote "Always Know Where You Are" and "I'm Still Here" for the Disney film Treasure Planet, which were also released as a single independently from the band.
Rzeznik has produced music for various artists including Andy Stochansky and Ryan Cabrera. He wrote songs for Ryan Cabrera's debut album Take It All Away and his music style is evident on Cabrera's song "Illusions". He has also written for Blessid Union of Souls, Anastacia, Zoe Scott, and many more.
From October to December 2007, Rzeznik was a judge alongside Sheila E. and Australian Idol judge and marketing manager Ian "Dicko" Dickson on the Fox network's The Next Great American Band.
On June 19, 2008, John Rzeznik was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was awarded the Hal David Starlight award