The Afghan Whigs are an alternative rock band that formed on Halloween night (allegedly) 1986 in The Queen City, USA. The band is comprised of Greg Dulli (vocals/guitar), Rick McCollum (lead guitar), John Curley (bass), as well as multiple drummers throughout the years, most notably Steve Earle and Michael Horrigan. Dulli, McCollum, and Earl met while attending the University of Cincinnati, at the same time Curley worked as a photographer for the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper. The quartet would soon form the punk band Black Republicans, and then later change their name to The Afghan Whigs, a name borrowed from a Florida-based Muslim motorcycle gang.
In 1988 the Cincinnati, Ohio based project, independently recorded and released their debut album Big Top Halloween. The band developed a strong local following in the mid-west and positive word-of-mouth landed them a record deal with Sub-Pop. Soon after, the band was supporting grunge pioneers Mudhoney. and their careers were off and running. During the Sub-Pop period the band release two albums, Up In It and Congregation. The Congregation LP produced two singles that were well-received on college radio and MTV, “Turn On The Water” (my fave Whigs tune) and “Conjure Me.”
In 1993 in the band signed with Elektra, and released their critically acclaimed major label debut, Gentlemen. The album produced the modern rock hits “Debonair” and the title track “Gentlemen.” By the end of the decade Gentlemen found itself on many Best Albums Of The Nineties Lists.
Unfortunately, in 1996 the follow-up album Black Love was a commercial failure, in addition, didn’t elevate the band any higher than its current indie status. Later in 1996 the band feuded with Elektra over what was described as neglect and dishonest business practices, and a legal dispute followed. Following their only album released with Sony in 1998, the guys disbanded in 2001, citing geographic disparity and family obligations.
The Afghan Whigs have released six studio albums:
Big Top Halloween (1988)
Up In It (1990)
Black Love (1996)
In 2006 the band temporarily reunited and released two singles “I’m A Soldier” and “Magazine.” The Afghan Whigs officially reunited in December 2011 and have toured sparingly. Since reuniting many of the show have been on the festival circuit, unfortunately to this point Coachella has not been one of them.
The Whigs have been mentioned by some of today’s indie rockers as influential in their musical style such as The National, The Hold Steady, The Gaslight Anthem, and Interpol.
Watch the video “Turn On The Water” here:
Watch the video “Debonair” here:
Watch the video “Honky’s Ladder” here: