Rivers Cuomo: Rock’s Quirkiest Frontman

Rivers Cuomo, born in 1970 in New York City, New York, rose to fame in 1994 when his band, Weezer, released their eponymous debut-album, also known as the Blue Album, spouting the hits “Buddy Holly”, “Undone – The Sweater Song” and “Say It Ain’t So”. Bridging the gap between power-pop, grunge and the burgeoning second coming of punk, Weezer were credited with fully bringing geek-cool to the forefront of rock music.

Then, much unlike most rock artists, Cuomo decided to take a short break from music to enroll to Harvard University. Rivers was also born with one leg shorter than the other, and while attending university, he underwent surgery to rectify the condition, which required him to wear a steel brace on one leg and perform stretching exercises for months. The experiences came to flavor the recording of the difficult second album, named Pinkerton. The bitter and isolated lyrics, combined with a noisier soundscape made for a critical and commercial disappointment, but the album has since grown in reverie with the band’s fanbase.

Following Pinkerton, Weezer again went on hiatus, this time for 5 years. Rivers initially wanted to go back to university, but decided he wanted to focus on songwriting. Due to creative differences band-members left and were replaced, sending Rivers into depression, painting the walls of his home black and putting fiberglass insulation over the windows so no light could get through.

Luckily, Weezer snapped out of their lull, and returned in 2001 with their also-eponymous album, nicknamed The Green Album by fans. Sporting more radio-friendly fare than Pinkerton, the album brought the band back into the conscious awareness, and sported the hits “Hash Pipe” and “Island in the Sun”. Rivers continued to display his eccentricity by growing a considerable beard and would often end nights on tour by going out to rave clubs, walking the streets until it was time to go on to the next city.

Weezer soon followed up the Green Album with Maladroit. Essentially a mix between all of the previous releases, the album cemented Weezer as a band that was here to stay, featuring a memorable video for “Keep Fishin’” involving The Muppets. Around this time, Rivers decided to commit to a vow of celibacy for two years or until he got married, whichever came first.

No stranger to the delights of the road, Rivers decided to commit to the vow in order to become less distracted from writing songs, taking up meditation and getting rid of his house, adult entertainment collection and car – which no doubt pleased the recipients who wouldn’t then need to look for a mortgage, more adult material or used car finance – and decided to live in a small flat next to producer Rick Rubin’s house while creating the songs that would materialize on their Make Believe album, which was released exactly 11 years after the Blue Album, becoming their second-biggest album in the US to date.

Following this, Cuomo decided to return to university to finally graduate and eventually married, stating that Weezer might never record another album, but luckily for the fans this was decided against, and in June 2008 Weezer’s third self-titled album, also known as The Red Album, was released – its lead-single “Pork and Beans” topping the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart for 11 weeks.

Having been a successful musician for a decade and a half Rivers is likely to be remembered in equal measure for his music and quirky character by fans and critics alike.

Daniel Collins writes on a number of topics on behalf of a digital marketing agency and a variety of clients. As such, this article is to be considered a professional piece with business interests in mind.

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