10,000 Maniacs got their name from a low-budget horror film from the 1960s, called 2,000 Maniacs. The original line-up featured Robert Buck, Dennis Drew, Stefan Gustafson, Jerry Augustyniak, Natalie Merchant, and guitarist John Lombardo (who formed the group with Merchant). They emerged from the small town of Jamestown, NY, making areas like Buffalo and Rochester, NY and Cleveland, OH their strongest initial markets.
After signing in 1985 with Elektra, and releasing one LP, The Wishing Chair, Lombardo would depart, unable to continue working with Merchant, who had clearly become the focal point of the band. They continued on as a quartet after his departure, and recorded In My Tribe, Blind Man's Zoo, and Our Time In Eden, which yielded several radio hits including "What's the Matter Here," and "These Are Days."
By 1992, many reviews focused on Natalie Merchant, which ultimately gave her the confidence to go solo. When she left the band, Lombardo returned with singer/violinist Mary Ramsey. Both Merchant and the revived 10,000 Maniacs would release two studio albums each after parting company. Merchant's Tigerlily did extremely well; the Maniacs releases, while well received, didn't replicate the success of the late 1980s Elektra recordings.