Widespread Panic

Widespread Panic grew in the South between 1982 and 1992; grew from a duet to a septet, that is. Vocalist John Bell and guitarist Mike Houser formed the band while college students in Athens, Georgia and recorded their first single, "Coconut Image," with later additions Dave Schools on bass and drummer Todd Nance. Domingo "Sunny" Ortiz joined soon thereafter and the band released their first album, Space Wrangler, in 1984 and began appearing on the H.O.R.D.E. Festival tours. Expanding their fan base for their Southern rock-cum-jazz fare while on tour, the band released "Widespread Panic" in 1991 and welcomed John "JoJo" Herman aboard in '92. New albums followed, including a successful collaboration under the name Brute with fellow Georgian Vic Chesnutt , "Nine High a Pallet," in 1995. "Bombs and Butterflies" was released in 1997 and a live set, "Another Joyous Occasion," appeared in 2002. Founder Mike Houser became ill and had to drop out of the band's 2002 U.S. tour. A young 40, Houser died that August, and his part, if not his persona, was replaced by guitarist George McConnell.

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