Originally out of Athens, Ga., Widespread Panic formed in 1986. Widespread Panic is known for its highly entertaining live shows. They hold the record for most sold-out shows at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., and the Red Rock Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo. They are considered a jam band, and their music shows influences from the genres of funk, hard rock, progressive rock, and Southern blues and rock. They grew in number organically, adding members who originally planned on just sitting and hanging out with the band and each other. Since 1986, Widespread Panic has released 26 albums, including 12 studio albums, eight live albums, five archive albums and one compilation. They have sold over 3 million records worldwide.
Widespread Panic Fraternity Beginnings
In the beginning, Widespread Panic began with a meeting in a dorm room at the University of Georgia. John Bell had been playing solo guitar for some time, and he invited Michael Houser, another guitarist, to play with him. They ended up living together and wrote what ended up being some of Widespread Panic's early music. Once they added enough members to make a band, they began playing at frat parties. This led to gigs at local bars, and finally, in 1987, they were signed by Landslide Records. It was in February 1987 that the legendary shows they played at the Uptown Lounge in Athens on "dollar Mondays" occurred. These performances caused them to be noticed by the local press, and they began to cultivate a loyal following. In September 1987, they recorded their first album, Space Wrangler. They have since toured the world, thrilling audiences everywhere, and received the first-ever Road Warrior award at the Billboard Touring Awards in 2008.
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How long is a normal Widespread Panic concert?
A typical Widespread Panic show will last between two and a half and three hours.
One of the things that Widespread Panic is known for is never playing the same set list twice. Instead, a master list of all their songs is laminated before each tour. The next three nights' worth of set lists are planned and marked in different colors to ensure they are never the same. They actually pick the songs for the second set while between sets based on what they have played on previous nights. This makes every show unique.
Who are the members of Widespread Panic?
Widespread Panic is currently composed of six members, guitarist and singer, John Bell, keyboardist, John "JoJo" Hermann, guitarist Jimmy Herring, drummer Duane Trucks, and percussionist Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz. Previous members include founding member Michael Houser, Todd Nance, T Lavitz and George McConnell. Houser died of pancreatic cancer in August 2002. McConnell had come in on a temporary basis to fill in for Houser while he was too ill to play, although he ended up playing with the band for several years after Houser's death.
Where did the name Widespread Panic come from?
The band got its name from the panic attacks that founding member Michael Houser dealt with frequently in his youth.