Mr. Big In-depth Biography
Mr. Big} was one of the few "shredder" heavy metal} bands (translation: its members were very proficient at their instruments) that realized that songcraft was more important than just simply playing a thousand notes per minute. The seeds for the group were sown when bass player extraordinaire Billy Sheehan} (often called the Eddie Van Halen} of the bass) left David Lee Roth}'s solo band in 1988. Almost immediately after his exit, Sheehan} began piecing together a new outfit comprised of former Racer X} guitarist Paul Gilbert}, drummer Pat Torpey}, and singer Eric Martin} (the latter had issued a pair of obscure solo releases in the mid-'80s). By 1989, the newly formed quartet had already inked a recording contract with Atlantic}, resulting in the release of a self-titled debut the same year. Despite causing a buzz amongst musicians, the album failed to crossover to a mainstream rock} audience stateside; however, Mr. Big} was an immediate smash success overseas in Japan.
The quartet broadened its horizons on its sophomore effort, 1991's Lean Into It}, which included the melodic psychedelic} rocker "Green Tinted Sixties Mind,"} as well as a pair of ballads} that would become sizeable hit singles: the number one smash "To Be With You"} and "Just Take My Heart."} Despite issuing further releases (1993's Bump Ahead} and 1996's Hey Man}), Mr. Big} was unable to sustain their commercial success in their homeland, but over in Japan, the group's popularity continued to soar (resulting in countless sold-out tours and such Japan-only live albums as Raw Like Sushi I}, Raw Like Sushi II}, Japandemoniumi}, Mr. Big in Japan}, etc.). Gilbert} split from the group in the late '90s to pursue a solo career and was replaced by former Poison} guitarist Richie Kotzen}. The new lineup issued a pair of studio recordings, Get Over It} and Actual Size}, before launching a "farewell tour" in Japan. ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide