They began in 1990 as just Duritz and Bryson playing acoustic shows together in the San Francisco area. Duritz later joined a band called the Himalayans, but continued to work with Bryson. In 1993, they formed Counting Crows and were signed to Geffen Records after playing some shows in Northern California.
T-Bone Burnett, much admired by Duritz, produced their first album. The connection was Bonnie Simmons, a San Francisco DJ who was friends with both Burnett and the band. She sent Burnett their demo and he agreed to produce it.
In an era when Alternative Rock and Hip-Hop were polarizing Top-40 radio, Counting Crows fit the Pop middle ground with their traditional, rootsy sound. Many stations put them in hot rotation (along with another Crow: Sheryl), since they had a sound that was contemporary but unlikely to alienate core listeners.
At the dawn of the internet, Duritz was active on AOL message boards, where he would connect with fans (who didn't always believe it was him). He embraced social media, quickly amassing over a million followers on Twitter.
The band are big fans of the pre-New Wave band Big Star. They once opened for Big Star under the name the Shatners. That was going to be the real name of the band before Counting Crows came along.
The band's name is "Counting Crows" not "The Counting Crows." It refers to a phrase "Counting Crows" which means pointless, like "that is about as pointless as counting crow." In other words, Adam and his buddies are not Crows. (thanks, Robb - Pittsburgh, PA)
Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz was born in Baltimore to parents who were both doctors. "We were always moving, so I didn't know a lot of people," he recalled to The Daily Telegraph, "so instead I was always reading - I read 180 books in my first grade and 218 in my second grade."
Duritz suffers from a mental condition called Dissociative Disorder. "It makes the world seem like it's not real, as if things aren't taking place," he explained to Men's Health.
Duritz dated several actresses after the band took off. He had never seen the show friends, but dated two actresses from the show: Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston. He was also linked to Mary Louise Parker, Samantha Mathis and Emmy Rossum. Christina Applegate was his landlord when he moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but they never dated.
His most publicized relationship was with Aniston, but Adam claims that they were dating for just over two weeks, and the tabloid coverage was stifling. Still, Duritz claims that he prefers actresses because they understand his lifestyle and he admires their work. "I'm really attracted to the artist in them," he says.
Along with No Doubt and Green Day, they were one of the popular bands of the mid-'90s that didn't always release their hit songs as singles in America. This strategy kept songs like "Mr. Jones
" off the Hot 100 (Billboard
rules dictated that a song had to be released as a single to chart), but it goosed sales of their albums, which were driven by radio play.
When he was a student at the University of California, Duritz roomed with Dave Immergluck, who was in the band Camper Van Beethoven. He played guitar, mandolin and other instruments on Counting Crows debut album, and has been a steady contributor to the band - both touring and recording - ever since.
The band got a huge boost when they performed on Saturday Night Live on January 15, 1994. They were never invited back on the show, although Duritz was lampooned during the November 16, 2013 episode where one of the cast members portrayed him pitching a "worst cover songs" CD. The bit opens with a jukebox playing Counting Crows version of "Big Yellow Taxi
," and the Duritz doppelgänger declaring, "Sometimes even the greatest singers make mistakes. What if you could get all those mistakes on one album?"