Where are they now? Tracking down 7 once-mega-popular Bay Area acts

Where are they now? Tracking down 7 once-mega-popular Bay Area acts

Fame is a fickle thing.

It comes and, more often than not, it goes. And that’s particularly the case with the hyper-competitive and always-changing world of music.

But what happens to the once-famous acts once the majority of the general public stops paying attention?

Well, in many cases, they continue right along playing gigs and releasing new music.

Just Google around and you’ll see plenty of former chart-toppers popping up at county fairs, small-to-medium clubs and other venues.

And some of them are still well worth listening a listen lo these many years/decades past their commercial prime.

So, we thought it would be nice to play a Bay Area version of “What are they doing now?” and let fans know what some local acts are up to now that their stars have faded quite a bit.

Here’s a look at seven such acts.

Smash Mouth

San Jose’s second most famous rock act (following the Doobie Brothers, of course) was a huge deal in the late ‘90s and early ‘2000s, thanks in large part to having a couple of songs — the original “All Star” and a cover of the Monkees hit “I’m a Believer” — featured in the film “Shrek.”

The group is still touring and releasing new material, with bassist Paul De Lisle as the only original member still in the fold. Flamboyant frontman Steve Harwell departed from the band in 2022, following what had become his increasingly unpredictable and unacceptable behavior on the live stage, and then died from liver failure one year later at the age of 56. Zach Goode now handles lead vocals for Smash Mouth.

Info: smashmouth.com

The Tubes

The art/glam-rockers had all the teens singing along to the cheeky anthem “White Punks on Dope” in the 1970s. Then, somewhat amazingly, the Tubes transitioned into MTV sweethearts in the ‘80s with the polished pop-rock nuggets “Talk to Ya Later” and “She’s a Beauty.” They were even featured in the amazing Olivia Newton-John film “Xanadu” in 1980.

The group’s most recent studio outing remains 1996’s “Genius of America,” yet the Tubes can be found playing all the old favorites at clubs and small theaters every so often. The band still features vocalist Fee Waybill, drummer Prairie Prince and guitarist Roger Steen — with the latter two (especially Steen) providing plenty of good reasons for attending a show in 2024.

Info: thetubes.com

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En Vogue

In 1992, the Oakland outfit — consisting of Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones and Dawn Robinson — released what just might be the finest R&B-pop album in Bay Area history. We are, of course, talking about “Funky Divas,” featuring such highlights as “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It),” “Free Your Mind” and “Giving Him Something He Can Feel.”

It’s been decades since the group scored its last top 40 pop hit — which was 1997’s “Too Gone, Too Long” — yet it has continued to release new music over the years. (Its most recent full-length studio offering was 2018’s “Electric Café.”) The band — which still features Ellis and Herron as well as Rhona Bennett — also continues to play live, having just been part of a winning tour bill with TLC and others last year.

Info: envoguemusic.com

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Pablo Cruise

Possibly the most underrated Bay Area band of all time, Pablo Cruise reached platinum heights in the late ’70s thanks to the meticulously produced and played hits “Whatcha Gonna Do?” and “Love Will Find a Way.” Yet, those soft-rock radio favorites only told part of the story, since the group also had a way with adventurous prog-flavored instrumentals and finely crafted ballads. The musicians parted ways in the mid-’80s, as listeners’ tastes had moved on to punk, new wave and other decidedly non-Pablo-Cruise styles.

About 20 years ago, however, the two principal players — keyboardist Cory Lerios and vocalist-guitarist David Jenkins — decided to give Pablo Cruise another try and are still playing shows to this day. And the timing was most definitely right, corresponding with a massive renaissance in interest in the yacht rock genre, which celebrates the smooth a.m. radio staples of the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Of course, Pablo Cruise ranks a charter member of that club. “Our headquarters was an 82-foot schooner in the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon,” Lerios pointed out during a recent interview. “So, we were definitely yacht rockers back before yacht rock was a term.”

Info: pablocruise.com

Greg Kihn

His breakthrough effort was the memorable 1981 single “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em),” which basically everyone who listened to rock radio during that era can still conjure up in their heads with the repeated “uh uh uh, uh uh uh uh uh” lyric at the drop of a hat. Yeah, they don’t write ‘em like that anymore.

Following his big rock star days, which saw the release of the smash “Jeopardy” in 1983, Kihn worked as a popular morning radio DJ from 1996 to 2012 at South Bay classic rock station 98.5 KFOX. In more recent years, he’s become known for his conservative politics but continued to record and release new music, with his most recent full-length album being 2017’s “Rekhindled.” It was the first record of all-new Greg Kihn Band material in 21 years.

Info: gregkihn.com/blog/

Night Ranger

So, admit it — you read those two words and immediately started hearing “Sister Christian” in your head, right? We get it. After all, that Night Ranger tune from 1984 is certainly among the best-known rock power ballads of all time, a ranking that has only been solidified through its use in several films (including in the 2023 Ben Affleck offering “Air”).

Well, Night Ranger has somehow managed to return to the top of the charts — after all these years — with its new concert offering. Yes, “40 Years and a Night,” recorded with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Classical Crossover Chart late last year. No, it’s not the pop charts, but it’s still mighty impressive. And, technically (and very loosely) speaking, that puts Night Ranger next to the likes of Bad Bunny and Taylor Swift as a recent chart-topper.

The band’s current tour lands at the Hard Rock Live club in Wheatland on Aug. 11.

Info: nightranger.com.

Linda Perry

As a performer, this former San Francisco resident is best known for her work with the ’90s alt-rock outfit 4 Non Blondes, which resulted in one of the decades’ most memorable hits — “What’s Up?” — as well as the multimillion-selling parent album “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!”

Perry later went on to become a massively successful producer/songwriter for such stars as Pink, Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani. More recently, she’s helped craft music for the likes of Pitbull and Ringo Starr.

Info: www.lindaperrystudio.com