4 Non Blondes
4 Non Blondes were an American alternative rock band from San Francisco, California, active from 1989 to 1994. Their first and only album, “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!” spent 59 weeks on the Billboard 200. They hit the charts in 1993 with the release of the album’s second single, “What’s Up?”; Bigger, Better, Faster, More! sold 1.5 million copies between 1992 and 1994.
Originally, the band was all-female, including lead singer Linda Perry, bassist Christa Hillhouse, guitarist Shaunna Hall, and drummer Wanda Day. However, before the release of the album, Hall and Day were replaced by Roger Rocha (guitar) and Dawn Richardson (drums).
Bassist Christa Hillhouse and guitarist Shaunna Hall had been roommates and met drummer Wanda Day when they joined a band she was playing in. When the three left that band, they started playing as a trio, but after seeing Perry sing at a solo performance, Hillhouse and Hall asked her to join as vocalist.
According to Perry, she and Hall were at Nightbreak, a San Francisco club, and when it was mentioned the trio was looking for a vocalist, Perry announced she was a singer, to which Hall replied, “I know”. Their first rehearsal was supposed to be at 6:10 pm on October 17, 1989, but shortly after 5:00 pm the Loma Prieta earthquake hit the San Francisco area.
The unusual name of the band came from an experience the group had in the Bay-Area with a blonde family. According to Christa Hillhouse, “Right next to us, there’s a trash receptacle with a piece of pizza on top and the kid wanted to pick it up. The mom said, ‘No, it’s probably dirty, what with the pigeons and people.’ And she stared right at us. We were Non Blondes.”
The experience and the name became a symbol that they didn’t fit the California stereotype.
They got their start in the San Francisco bar scene, especially lesbian bars, gaining a significant lesbian following. In July 1991, the band was signed to Interscope following a performance at the Gavin Convention, where they opened for Primus on Valentine’s Day of the same year. As they began pre-production for their debut album, Day was fired and replaced by Richardson. In 1992, while recording Bigger, Better, Faster, More! the album’s producer, David Tickle, felt that Hall’s guitar playing was “not happening” so she was let go from the band as well
Lead singer Linda Perry left the band in 1994, and the remaining members disbanded shortly thereafter
“What’s Up?” is a song by American rock group 4 Non Blondes from their 1992 debut album, Bigger, Better, Faster, More! It was released as the album’s second single in 1993. It was successful in the United States and in several European countries, peaking at number one in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.
The title does not appear in the song’s lyrics. However, the phrase “what’s going on?” is prominently included in the chorus. The title was chosen to avoid confusion with Marvin Gaye’s 1971 song “What’s Going On”. Linda Perry talked to Rolling Stone and said that she heavily disliked the song’s production. Perry revealed on Behind the Music that she hated David Tickle’s reworked version (with different lyrics) intended to be used for their album. She had told this to Jimmy Iovine, who agreed, preferring Perry’s demo version over Tickle’s. Tickle’s instrumental (over the original vocals) could be heard on Perry’s episode of Behind the Music; Tickle’s version was never released. The final version was recorded in one day after Iovine allowed 4 Non Blondes to re-record Perry’s demo version. The music video was directed by Morgan Lawley.
“What’s Up?” ranks number 94 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders, and ranks 86 on the MuchMore The Top 100 One Hit Wonders