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Tuesday, 21 October 2008 10:18

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Douglas "Doug" Hopkins

Born: April 11, 1961, Tempe, Arizona

Died: December 5, 1993, Phoenix.

Age: 32

Cause of death: Self inflicted gunshot wound.

Notable because: Wrote Gin Blossoms hit 'Hey Jealousy.' Effectively driven to suicide by his former band mates eagerness to acquire his publishing rights to the music.

Douglas "Doug" HopkinsĀ  was an American musician and songwriter from Tempe, Arizona. He co-founded the Gin Blossoms, a popular modern rock band of the early 1990s, with his longtime friend, Bill Leen. He was the band's lead guitarist and principal songwriter.

Hopkins' writing credits included the hits "Hey Jealousy," "Found Out About You," "Hold Me Down," and "Lost Horizons." His penchant for somber lyrics, matched with catchy guitar hooks and notable melodies underscored his memorable style.

Hopkins graduated from Tempe's McClintock High School in 1979, and two years later, while attending Arizona State University, he formed his first rock band with Bill Leen. Hopkins was the guitarist and Leen was the bassist, although neither knew how to play the instruments. He graduated from Arizona State in or 1985 with a degree in sociology. By 1987, the two played well enough to start the Gin Blossoms, and in 1988 Jesse Valenzuela (Hopkins' skateboarding friend) and Phillip Rhodes signed on as the band's second guitarist and drummer, respectively.

I understand why they fired me, but did they have to get so fucking cold and ruthless about it?
Doug Hopkins (Rolling Stone, 1993)

Hopkins had suffered from chronic depression since childhood and had been battling alcoholism for several years. However, in 1990, the Gin Blossoms were one of the hottest local bands in Tempe and the surrounding areas, and they signed a contract with A&M Records. He was also resistant to signing to a major label, feeling like its property, and reacted with stubbornness and more drinking.

When the band recorded its debut album New Miserable Experience in February 1992, it was reported that Hopkins was unable to stand during his recording sessions. Faced with the prospect of firing Hopkins or being dropped by A&M, the band terminated Hopkins. Doused in aftershave and mouthwash to cover the effects of his days-long drinking binge, he was flown back to Arizona. He was replaced by Scott Johnson. As result, the band withheld $15,000 owed to Hopkins until he agreed to sign over half of his publishing royalties to his replacement, which he reluctantly agreed to do because of his dire financial situation. and while New Miserable Experience did not make a strong debut, it went on to become a multi-platinum album.

After he returned to Tempe, Hopkins started another band, The Chimeras, with brothers Lawrence & Mark Zubia. Hopkins's role in the band came to an abrupt end during a show one night, when, after a less-than-fantastic solo, he quit. It would be the last band he ever played with in public as a member. He did appear on stage with DeadHotWorkshop and Hans Olsen in Tucson shortly before his death. The Chimeras later changed names to The Pistoleros, upon signing a short-lived recording contract. The first several singles released by the Gin Blossoms, and the only mainstream hit released by the Pistoleros, prior to being dropped by their label, were penned by Hopkins.

As the Gin Blossoms experienced mounting success, principally on the back of songs he had written, Hopkins became increasingly despondent. Though he had always dreamed of having a gold record, when he received one for the song "Hey Jealousy", he hung it up for two weeks before taking it down and then destroying it.

Nine days later, during an intake consultation in the detox unit of Phoenix's St. Luke's Hospital, Hopkins snuck out and bought a .38 caliber pistol. The next day, with the constant reminder of his former band's success being heard on virtually every radio station, Hopkins committed suicide on December 4, 1993. At his memorial service, Wilson recalls, a woman approached his former band members with a message from Hopkins upon his death: he was the one that had poured sugar in the gas tank of their tour van in 1992.

While Hopkins' death would partially overshadow the Gin Blossoms' success, the group went on to further critical acclaim without him, albeit in a lesser form.

In 1994, Larry Rudolph of the New York firm of Rudolph & Beer, which represented the Hopkins estate, announced that eighteen of his songs were found and were open for a recording deal.


Last Updated on Saturday, 28 March 2009 13:02

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