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Album cover for Bellybutton
|Origin||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Genres||Indie rock, power pop|
|Associated acts||Beatnik Beatch, Imperial Drag, The Grays, The Moog Cookbook, Uma Jets, TV Eyes, Beck, Puffy AmiYumi|
|Past members||Andy Sturmer
Roger Joseph Manning, Jr.
Jellyfish were a power pop band from San Francisco. It formed after Beatnik Beatch broke up in 1989. The core members were drummer/singer/songwriter Andy Sturmer and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. Although their career was short, the band has become highly influential in the power pop genre.
Jason Falkner had been a member of the acclaimed Paisley Underground band The Three O'Clock, writing and performing on the band's major-label debut, Vermillion. Following the break-up of The Three O'Clock, Falkner placed a newspaper classified ad looking for a new project based in Los Angeles. This caught the attention of keyboard player Roger Manning, who was attending University of Southern California at the time and was looking for musical collaborators. Manning's interest was sparked by the fact that Falkner was the only musician in the entire classified section to mention the band XTC. Although both Manning and Falkner found the meeting interesting, it amounted to little and they did not choose to work together at that time.
In 1988, Manning moved back to the Bay Area to join a San Francisco-area band called Beatnik Beatch, replacing their previous keyboard player Se Padilla. Another member of the band was singing drummer Andy Sturmer. Manning and Sturmer became a songwriting team and began writing material for the band's upcoming second album. The songs were then rejected by Beatnik Beatch's leader (bassist and singer Chris Ketner) who preferred the band to concentrate on his own material. Consequently Sturmer and Manning quit Beatnik Beatch together to pursue their own project.
Later, when Sturmer and Manning were forming Jellyfish, the search for a guitarist to record the final tracks led Manning to contact Falkner once again. Falkner joined for the recording of their debut album.
The band's debut album, Bellybutton, was released in 1990. It demonstrated the wide range of influences which the new band drew on, drawing heavily from the Paisley Underground, Queen, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, XTC, Cheap Trick, Wings, and Badfinger. The album contained the band's most successful single, "Baby's Coming Back", which peaked at No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album also included the singles "That Is Why", "I Wanna Stay Home", "Now She Knows She's Wrong" and "The King Is Half-Undressed" (the video for which was nominated for Best Art Direction at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards).
After the recording of Bellybutton, Manning's brother Chris was asked to join the band as bassist for the imminent live dates.
Frustrated with simply being the guitar player, Jason Falkner left the band after the Bellybutton tour. Chris Manning also left, disliking the touring lifestyle.
Sturmer and Roger Manning recruited Tim Smith as the new bassist while preparing new material. Studio musicians (including Jon Brion) were brought in to help record their second album, Spilt Milk in 1993. The album was a far more elaborate affair than Bellybutton, incorporating a significant amount of overdubbing and complex song arrangements. A tour followed which included Eric Dover on guitar and backing vocal duties.
Increasing creative differences between Sturmer and Manning resulted in Jellyfish's break-up in 1994.
Sturmer stayed quiet for a number of years, but has since written catchy pop songs for Japanese group Puffy Amiyumi and soloist Yuki (formerly front woman and vocalist of the Japanese rock band Judy and Mary). He has also composed, produced, and recorded with many different groups including The Black Crowes, Ozzy Osbourne, L.E.O., The Merrymakers, and others.
Roger Manning subsequently worked with Jellyfish live band member Eric Dover in a project called Imperial Drag and worked with Brian Kehew in The Moog Cookbook. In 2005 Manning released his first solo CD in Japan, titled Solid State Warrior. This album was re-packaged with an altered tracklisting in the U.S. in 2007 as The Land Of Pure Imagination. Manning also played keyboards for Beck on several records and remixed some songs for French duo Air.
Chris Manning is now an accomplished producer and engineer.
After leaving Jellyfish, Jason Falkner joined with other pop musicians Jon Brion, Buddy Judge and Dan McCarroll (the latter three best known for their work with Aimee Mann) in a band called The Grays.
Roger Manning and Falkner have reunited (along with former Redd Kross member Brian Reitzell) in a new wave inspired band called TV Eyes. Reitzell and Manning also joined forces to compose two tracks for the Lost in Translation soundtrack. Manning and Reitzell had earlier collaborated on the Logan's Sanctuary album in 2000, which featured contributions from Falkner.
Both Manning and Falkner are credited on Cheap Trick's 2009 album, The Latest, with Manning playing select tour dates. Manning was also featured on Cheap Trick's appearance at SXSW, which was taped and shown on HDNet TV. Their appearance on Austin City Limits was shown on PBS, and Manning played on it as well.
|Year||Song||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1990||"The King is Half-Undressed"||—||19||39||Bellybutton|
|"That is Why"||—||11||—|
|1991||"Baby's Coming Back"||62||—||51|
|"Now She Knows He's Wrong"||—||—||49|
|"I Wanna Stay Home"||—||—||59|
|"Ignorance is Bliss"||—||—||—||non-album single|
|1993||"The Ghost at Number One"||—||9||43||Spilt Milk|
|"Joining a Fan Club"||—||—||—|
|"Bye, Bye, Bye"||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that region.|