John Popper (1967-), lead singer and harmonica player for the rock group Blues Traveler, was born on this day in Cleveland, Ohio. He formed the band while in high school with pal Brendan Hill, then added Chan Kinchla and Bobby Sheehan.
"We're good musicians, we're proud of that," Popper explained early on. "And we're not the most physically attractive guys in the world."
Playing small clubs in New York and touring non-stop, the jam band gathered a following, fueled by Popper's unique, distinctive playing--a combination of rock and jazz, the up-tempo, joyous celebration of life.
"We view blues not as a style of music, but as a level of honesty you play with," Popper explained. "It's... Zeppelin listening to Muddy Waters, and us listening to Zep."
Fans celebrated how Popper played the harp--fast, with clean, clear notes. The quartet released their first record in 1990, then hit the big time with 1994's Four, which included the mega-selling single and Grammy winner, Run Around.
Following the accidental death of bassist Sheehan, Popper released the solo effort heart attack, then survived an angioplasty and gastric bypass surgery. He dropped from 420 to 226 pounds.
About survival, the slimmed-down artist reflected, "A friend of mine pointed out that life isn't pure. Your life is a convoluted, complicated thing to survive and live and face. That's courage."
"I have to take care of myself and the music."
Don't give up or give in.