The Afghan Whigs are an American rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio, originally active from 1986 to 2001, who have since reformed. The group - with core members Greg Dulli (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick McCollum (lead guitar), and John Curley (bass) - rose up around the grunge movement, evolving from a garage band in the vein of the Replacements to incorporate more R&B and soul influences into their sound and image. After releasing their first album independently in 1988, the band signed to the Seattle-based label Sub Pop, before releasing their major-label debut and fourth album, Gentlemen, in 1993. Pitchfork described them as "one of the few alt-bands to flourish on a major label" in the 1990s.
Dulli frequently claimed in interviews that the band would never get back together following their dissolution in 2001 but the group announced in December 2011 that they would reunite.
Greg Dulli (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick McCollum (lead guitar), John Curley (bass), and Steve Earle (drums) formed the band in Cincinnati late in 1986. The Afghan Whigs had evolved out of Dulli's previous band, The Black Republicans, a band that Curley later joined. Curley would introduce Dulli to McCollum, a frequent jam partner who was famed on the local Cincinnati scene for his innovative use of effects pedals. McCollum and Dulli would bond over their shared love of R&B, and in fact the first song The Afghan Whigs ever rehearsed was a cover of The Temptations' "Psychedelic Shack". Dulli later described the intent behind The Afghan Whigs was to exist as "a cross between the Band, the Temptations, and Neil Young playing with Crazy Horse."
In the wake of The Black Republicans' breakup, Dulli had decamped to Arizona where he composed half the material for what would become Afghan Whigs' debut album Big Top Halloween (1988), self-released on the band's own Ultrasuede label. "We were running through what were basically the first songs I'd ever written in order to do some demos, so we were playing really loose," Dulli recalls. "And then all of a sudden, I found out John was having covers made." While only a thousand copies of Big Top Halloween would be pressed initially, one of them managed to capture the attention of Jonathan Poneman - the co-founder of influential Seattle-based indie label Sub Pop - which signed Afghan Whigs in 1989. Initially, Sub Pop planned for the Whigs to only release a one-off single, but that soon led to a full-blown record contract with Sub Pop.
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