This resilient Buffalo garage band formed in 1986 and got its start playing on the local club scene there. Johnny Rzeznik (vocals, guitar), Robbie Takac (vocals, bass) and George (drums) released their first independent album, Goo Goo Dolls, in 1987 and began building a local fan base. In 1988 they released Jed, on the L.A. indie label Metal Blade, creating a critical buzz that included raves from the Los Angeles Times ("a blast of school's-out exuberance") and Rolling Stone ("thrash-packed pop and well-articulated rage").
It was only a matter of time before the group began attracting major label attention, and in 1991 they released Hold Me Up under Metal Blade's distribution deal with Warner Bros. Virtual non-stop touring and a track ("I'm Awake Now") on the Nightmare on Elm Street 6 soundtrack further bolstered their national following.
Another strong showing, Superstar Car Wash, came out on Warner Bros. in 1993. Musician magazine said the album marked " a quantum leap over their thrash beginnings, a move akin to the Replacements breakthrough records Let It Be." Despite the critical kudos, however, the Goo Goos remained on the fringes of the mainstream.
Their breakthrough came in 1995 with their third Warner release, A Boy Named Goo. The album, produced by Lou Giordano (Pere Ubu, Husker Du, Smithereens), contained the hit ballad "Name," their first foray into American Top 40 radio.
The Goo Goos went on a brief hiatus in the mid-'90s to iron out some wranglings with their record label and to make some personnel changes; longtime drummer George was replaced by Mike Malinin. During this time the Goo Goos contributed tracks to numerous soundtracks, including Ace Ventura 2 (1995), Tommy Boy (1995), Twister (1996), Son in Law (1996) and Batman and Robin (1996).
But by far their biggest soundtrack payoff came in 1998 with the multi-platinum ballad "Iris," which appeared in the film City of Angels. The single shot to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and its accompanying video became an MTV mainstay. The band finally earned the "next big thing" status that had been eluding them throughout their decade-long career.
In the fall of 1998, the Goo Goo Dolls released their sixth studio album, Dizzy Up the Girl, a collection of power ballads, including their mega-hit "Iris."