How did the band move on after Hopkins’ death? He passed away in late 2014. Among Leen's first impressions of Flower was his locker at McClintock High School in Tempe. "That record Alice Cooper produced for Gentlemen Afterdark came out and the Psalms EP came out," he says. "Rich sang it. "Nobody had heard it. With that massive success, the label had high hopes for Congratulations I’m Sorry. New Miserable Experience's initial release had completely different packaging. "It's taken me years to figure that (expletive) out. "And they were trying to learn how to play 'Anarchy in the U.K.'". The band has reunited and released two albums in the past decade with another album slated to begin recording in the fall. Contact Us, All rights reserved. "In terms of what sort of mark he left in Phoenix music, it was just a blip, unfortunately, because he didn't really pursue it the way he could have," says writer and musician Brian Smith, a longtime friend who met Flower when Smith was the singer for Gentlemen Afterdark. Guitar, Synth – Doug Hopkins; Lead Vocals, Guitar – Jim Swafford; Reviews Add Review [r12393564] Release. The fact that Flower found a way to be a human being, not a human doing, was especially impressive, Smith says, when you think of his musical talent. Careers, "If he and Doug had stayed together, Richard could have been the Robin Wilson. "He found something and said, 'How does this one go?'" Gin Blossoms' quadruple-platinum breakthrough album "New Miserable Experience. We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. There are memories of sleeping in good hotels and bad apartments. Many critics felt Congratulations I’m Sorry was conventional, or an attempt to recreate what made New Miserable Experience so successful. All rights reserved. But Swafford, Leen and Hopkins reconvened in early 1983 as the Psalms, abandoning their punk roots in favor of something closer to post-punk. My parents loved him. Richard Flower died on Feb. 1. New Miserable Experience is the second studio album by rock band Gin Blossoms, released on August 4, 1992. That's my baby brother. Several songs on the album were written with references to the area, people, and events surrounding the band at the time, such as "Mrs. Rita", which is a song about a local psychic from the Gin Blossoms' hometown of Tempe, Arizona. He’s proud of his bandmates’ deft songwriting skills. He just seemed so elevated.". ©2020 Phoenix New Times, LLC. "So he said, 'I can't go on this adventure with you guys,'" Valerie recalls. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Local musician Lawrence Zubia tells a story about Doug Hopkins, in which Hopkins hops a slow-moving freight train at Mill Avenue, intending to jump off when it neared his Tempe apartment. According to Hampton, the label was concerned that including the song on the record would diminish sales for the Empire Records soundtrack. The Phoenix New Times may earn a portion of sales from products & services purchased through links on our site from our affiliate partners. "In Arizona in the '70s, that was kind of unheard of. Staff, The band's guitarist, Doug Hopkins, was fired near the conclusion of the recording sessions for the album, ostensibly for his persistent alcohol problems. And his voice was just so sweet. It was us. He was tall and lithesome. I think it’s done okay … It’s not something that would have kept me up at night.”. Sign Up ›. Some of the credit and blame for the sonic consistency between the two albums goes to producer Hampton. “But if one takes an artist and puts him on the road for a 15-month tour, and shortly thereafter for another, larger 15-month tour, and you add the fact that all of the money coming in kind of relaxes the old anxiety of youth, you now have a major song problem. It was kind of a silly decision. When Hopkins felt the time had come to move on from the punk rock covers they'd been learning and start working on their own material, he turned to Flower's notebook full of lyrics. That was the beginning of his songwriting career.". "He doted on me, my sister, our children, his children," Valerie says. He died of renal failure at his home in Peoria. The majority of the songs rely on a melody-driven pop style, while the final track, "Cheatin'", leans into country music. "Those were some of the best years," he says. Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free. He curtly confirms it’s not something anyone can comprehend. Valerie says her brother left the Psalms because Hopkins started to "have his decline with his drinking" and Flower and his girlfriend at the time didn't want any part of it. Flower quit in a dispute over a Beach Boys song. [4] With "Found Out About You" following a few months later, the album eventually reached multi-platinum status.[5]. In addition to Valerie, Flower is survived by two other siblings, Larry and Patricia, and two daughters, Emily, 23, and Amanda, 20. So he quit. Before Doug Hopkins tragically committed suicide in 1993, he would often tell his friends that the Gin Blossoms were ripping him off. Support Us Valenzuela doesn’t go so far as to say Congratulations I’m Sorry is underrated, but he is still very proud of it. Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. I mean, he and I were in cahoots about which singles to release. "Richard didn't say anything between songs. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy. ", ARIZONA MUSIC:How Roger Clyne became an Arizona legend — and why he stayed. He would sing with an English accent. The album was released to little fanfare and relatively lackluster reviews. It was more management than anything. Reach the reporter at or 602-444-4495. And he's probably sitting up in heaven with Doug.". © 2020 Valenzuela fondly remembers being in the presence of such a talented man. Shipp recalls those early practices in 1980. His name might be less familiar than those of his former bandmates who went on to form the Gin Blossoms. ", "He was a lover of the Beatles and Mott the Hoople," says Robert Shipp, a childhood friend. “If the phone woke me up around 3 or 4 in the morning, it would usually be John with a crazy idea,” Valenzuela remembers with a laugh, “He was a very sweet man. To celebrate the album's tenth anniversary in 2002, a deluxe edition containing an extra disc of demos, outtakes and live performances was released by the label. He was the band’s champion and collaborator during those sessions. "And Rich was against the idea. While sales of Congratulations I’m Sorry didn’t match its predecessor, it moved enough copies to be considered a success. "He still had the best voice of anybody we knew," Leen says. It was Flower who exposed him to the Pistols. Hampton recalls Wilson announcing that because Wilson originally was a mouthpiece for Hopkins’ songs, his work with the Gin Blossoms had served its purpose and it was time to move on. ", Hopkins emerged as something of a mythic figure, writing such Gin Blossoms classics as "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You. "He was this towering figure in a black leather jacket," Leen says. And I would always feel like a turd saying (expletive) things about people around him. They had a strong desire to write a collection of songs that stood well on their own. The adjectives most often reached for as the singer's friends and family try to sum up Flower's personality are "sweet" and "kind. He was fired from the band at their label’s request after recording for what would be the band’s 1992 breakthrough album, New Miserable Experience, completed in Memphis. "And Richard had that.". ", "He loved his high school," Shipp says, with a laugh. Valenzuela recalls one point of contention between the band and the label: They couldn’t include “Til I Hear It From You” on the album. He didn’t want the band to find success off his songs. Because of Richard. "He loved it more than most people. The Rarities Album was released separately in Abbreviated form in 2010 as Rarities, missing the three cuts from Dusted. That said, Robin Wilson, the Gin Blossoms’ lead singer, told Rolling Stone in 2012 that the supposed feud with Hopkins was the biggest misconception about the Tempe band. ", In August 1983, the Psalms recorded a cassette EP, "No Great Cathedral.". Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix. Support local journalism. It’s a very good quality.“. Get the most out of your experience with a personalized all-access pass to everything local on events, music, restaurants, news and more. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. 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