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Evanescence is an American rock band founded in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1995 by singer/pianist Amy Lee and guitarist Ben Moody. After recording independent albums, the band released their first full-length album, Fallen, on Wind-up Records in 2003. Fallen sold more than 17 million copies worldwide and helped the band win two Grammy Awards and seven nominations, as well as scoring No. 6 in CBS’s “Top Bestselling Albums of the Last 10 Years” (2008). A year later, Evanescence released their first live album, Anywhere but Home, which sold more than one million copies worldwide. In 2006, the band released their second studio album, The Open Door, which sold more than five million copies.
The line-up of the group has changed several times: David Hodges leaving in 2002, co-founder Moody left in 2003 (mid-tour), bassist Will Boyd in 2006, followed by guitarist John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray in 2007. The last two changes led to a hiatus, with temporary band members contributing to tour performances. Billboard ranked Evanescence No. 71 on the Best Artists of the Decade chart.
Announced in June 2009, the newest line-up of the band eventually returned with Evanescence, their self-titled third studio album, released on October 11, 2011. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 127,000 copies in sales. The album also debuted at No. 1 on four other different Billboard charts; the Rock Albums, Digital Albums, Alternative Albums, and the Hard Rock Albums charts. The first single, “What You Want”, was released on August 9, 2011. The second single, “My Heart Is Broken”, was sent to radio stations in October 31, 2011. The band spent 2012 on tour in promotion of their new album with other bands including The Pretty Reckless and Fair to Midland.
1995–2001: Formation and Early Years
Evanescence was founded by singer, pianist and songwriter Amy Lee and former lead guitarist and songwriter Ben Moody. The two met in 1994 at a youth camp in Little Rock, where Moody heard Lee playing “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meat Loaf on the piano. Their first songs together were “Solitude” and “Give Unto Me”, both written by Lee, and “Understanding” and “My Immortal”, both written by Moody. The songs were edited by both artists, and they shared equal credit.
Two of Lee and Moody’s songs were played on local radio stations, raising local awareness of the group and demand for a concert. The band eventually appeared live, and became one of the most popular acts in the area. After experimenting with band names, such as Childish Intentions and Stricken, they decided on Evanescence, which means “disappearance” or “fading away” (from the word evanesce, which means “to disappear”).
The band released two EPs. The first is the self-titled Evanescence EP (1998), of which about 100 copies were made and distributed at the band’s early live performances. The second is the Sound Asleep EP, also known as the Whisper EP (1999). There was also a third EP called Mystary EP (2003). For their first full-length demo CD, Origin (2000), about 2,500 copies were produced and sold to concert audiences. Origin and the EPs contain demo versions of some of the songs on their debut album, Fallen. During a radio interview, Lee and Moody encouraged fans to download the band’s older songs from the Internet.
2002–2005: Fallen and Anywhere but Home
Having first encountered the band at Ardent Studios in Memphis and been suitably impressed, producer Pete Matthews played their demos to his friend at Wind-up Records, Diana Meltzer. It was when Meltzer heard “My Immortal” that she became interested in signing the band, saying she “knew it was a hit”. The Wind-up A&R told HitQuarters that, although they already exhibited huge talent, they were still young and needed to be developed, and “given the time and opportunity they could deliver a breakthrough sound.” Once signed the band were relocated to Los Angeles, given an apartment and rehearsal space and enrolled in a gym. Lee was given acting, vocal and movement classes. After almost two years producer Dave Fortman was brought in to produce their first album Fallen. However, record label executives initially refused to release the album unless the band would agree to add a full-time male co-vocalist. When the band would not agree to this demand, the label relented and only insisted on having a male vocalist in the album’s lead single, “Bring Me to Life”. Lee was still not happy about this, but agreed to it.
In early 2003, the lineup was completed by Amy Lee and Ben Moody’s friends, John LeCompt, Rocky Gray and Will Boyd, all of whom worked on Evanescence’s earlier songs. While they were looking to promote Fallen, Evanescence accepted an offer from the video game company Nintendo to perform on the Nintendo Fusion Tour, which they headlined in 2003.
Fallen spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Top 10; was certified 7x Platinum in the United States; and sold more than 17 million copies worldwide. The album was listed for 104 weeks on the Billboard 200, and it was one of eight albums in the history of the chart to spend at least a year on the Billboard Top 50.
On October 22, 2003, Moody left the band during the European tour for Fallen, reportedly because of creative differences. In an interview several months later, Amy Lee said: “…we’d gotten to a point that if something didn’t change, we wouldn’t have been able to make a second record.” This became a point of confusion, as Moody and Lee stated on the Fallen album liner notes that they were best friends. Lee said it was almost a relief that Moody left because of tensions created within the band. During an interview, Lee has said, “I don’t know, I just think it’s exactly what I would’ve expected. He’s more about kind of the pop influence sort of thing and also, you know, about being commercial and I mean selling albums: That’s the part of him we often disagreed on. I wanted to do the more artistic weird thing and he’d wanna do the thing that people would want to hear…” She adds “So that’s a lot of the reason [why] it’s been so fun writing now, is [that] we’re not thinking about that. It’s like ‘what do we like?’, ‘what’s fun?’, like ‘what do we want to do that’s different?'” Moody was replaced by Terry Balsamo from Cold.
Evanescence’s major label debut single “Bring Me to Life”, featuring guest vocals from Paul McCoy of 12 Stones, was a global hit for the band and reached number 5 on the American Billboard Hot 100. It provided Evanescence with their first UK number-one single, where it stayed for four weeks from June–July 2003. The song also became the official theme for WWE No Way Out 2003. The equally popular “My Immortal” peaked at number 7 in the U.S. and UK charts, and both songs were featured in the soundtrack for the action movie Daredevil. “Bring Me to Life” was recognized at the 46th Grammy Awards in 2004, where the band won the Best Hard Rock Performance and Best New Artist awards and were nominated for two others. The two other singles off Fallen are “Going Under” (#5 U.S. Modern Rock Tracks, No. 8 UK Charts) and “Everybody’s Fool” (#36 U.S. Modern Rock Tracks, No. 23 UK Charts); all were promoted by a music video.
In addition, Fallen is No. 6 at the “Top Bestselling Albums of the Last 10 Years”. After selling more than 7 million copies in the United States alone and 17 million worldwide.
2006–2009: The Open Door
A spokesperson for the band’s label confirmed on July 14, 2006, that bassist Will Boyd had left the band for “not wanting to do another big tour” and wanting “to be close to his family.” Amy Lee originally broke the news to the fans in a post on an unofficial Evanescence site, EvBoard.com. In an interview with MTV, posted on their website on August 10, 2006, Lee announced that Tim McCord, former Revolution Smile guitarist, would switch instruments and play bass for the band.
The album progressed slowly for several reasons, including Amy Lee’s desire to maximize the creative process and not rush production, other band members’ side projects, guitarist Terry Balsamo’s stroke, and the loss of their former manager. Although Lee stated on the fan forum Evboard that Evanescence’s new album would be completed in March 2006, the release was pushed back allegedly because “Wind-up Records…wanted to make a few changes to the upcoming single “Call Me When You’re Sober”, which hit modern rock and alternative rock radio on August 7, 2006. The 13-track album The Open Door was released in Canada and the United States on October 3, 2006; the United Kingdom on October 2, 2006; and Australia on September 30, 2006. The album sold 447,000 copies in the United States in its first week of sales and earned their first No. 1 ranking on the Billboard 200 album chart, becoming the 700th No. 1 album in Billboard since the chart became a weekly feature in 1956. The music video for “Call Me When You’re Sober” was shot in Los Angeles and is based on the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. The Open Door became available for pre-order on the iTunes Store on August 15, 2006; the music video for “Call Me When You’re Sober” was also made available.
The tour for The Open Door began on October 5, 2006, in Toronto and included locations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe during that year. This first tour continued on January 5, 2007 and included stops in Canada (alongside band Stone Sour), Japan and Australia (alongside band Shihad) and then returned to the U.S. for a second tour in the spring (alongside bands Chevelle and Finger Eleven). As part of their tour, Evanescence performed on April 15, 2007 on the Argentinan festival Quilmes Rock 07 along with Aerosmith, Velvet Revolver and other local bands. They also co-headlined on the Family Values Tour 2007 along with Korn and other bands. The group closed their European tour with a sell-out concert at the Amphi in Ra’anana, Israel, on June 26, 2007, and finished the album tour on December 9, 2007.
On May 4, 2007, John LeCompt announced that he had been fired from Evanescence, and also stated that drummer Rocky Gray had decided to quit. Wind-up issued a press release on May 17, 2007, stating that two Dark New Day members, drummer Will Hunt and guitarist Troy McLawhorn, would be joining the band to replace LeCompt and Gray. It was initially stated that Hunt and McLawhorn would tour with Evanescence until the end of the Family Values Tour in September 2007, but both continued to play with the band through The Open Door tour.
2009–present: Evanescence and Hiatus
In a news posting to the Evanescence website during June 2009, Amy Lee wrote that the band was in the process of writing new material for a new album proposed for release in 2010. She stated that the music would be an evolution of previous works and be “better, stronger, and more interesting”. The band played a “secret show” at the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom in New York City on November 4, 2009, with label mates Civil Twilight. Tickets for the show sold out in five minutes. This performance acted as a warm-up for their headline appearance at the Maquinária Festival in São Paulo, Brazil, which took place on November 8.
Evanescence entered the studio on February 22, 2010, to begin recording. Will Hunt returned as drummer while a second drummer and programmer, Will “Science” Hunt, was brought in to assist in writing but ultimately did not join the band. David Campbell, who previously worked on The Open Door, was brought back to handle string arrangements, and the album was scheduled for release by the producer Steve Lillywhite. Lee later said that “Steve wasn’t the right fit” and was replaced by producer Nick Raskulinecz.
At the time the band began recording, the album was intended for an August or September 2010 release. However, on June 21, 2010, Lee announced on EvThreads.com that Evanescence had temporarily left the studio to work further on the album and “get our heads into the right creative space”. Lee also indicated that record label Wind-up Records was going through “uncertain times”, which would further delay the release of the album. The band reentered the studio in early April 2011 with producer Nick Raskulinecz, who had produced music for Alice in Chains and Foo Fighters, to continue work on the third album. It was reported that the album would be released in late 2011. Troy McLawhorn was reported to have rejoined the band as a primary guitarist after leaving post-grunge band Seether, but Evanescence’s management later stated that this was not the case.
On June 12, 2011, Amy Lee announced through her Twitter account that Troy McLawhorn was officially back with Evanescence and that the release date for the new album would be October 4, 2011. Later, on July 11, 2011 it was reported by MTV News that the release date for the album had been pushed back to October 11, and that the first single from the album will be “What You Want”. The band recorded the album at Blackbird Studio, Nashville. During an interview with Kerrang!, Lee revealed that the new album’s title will be Evanescence. Lee said that the decision for the title of the album was her love towards Evanescence. Other themes are the ocean, quest for freedom and falling in love.
The Evanescence Tour began on August 17, 2011, with a show at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. The band then performed at Rock on the Range in Winnipeg on August 20, 2011, and at Rock in Rio on October 2 alongside Guns N’ Roses and System of a Down as well as Brazilian artists Pitty and Detonautas Roque Clube. After a series of events in North America, Evanescence traveled to Europe in November to play a sold-out tour in the UK, Germany and France, with support from The Pretty Reckless and Australian band ME. Evanescence performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert on December 11, 2011, where they played “Lost in Paradise” and “Bring Me to Life”, before again touring in North America. In February 2012 they toured Japan with Dazzle Vision, and in the same month performed in other southeast Asian countries. March 2012 saw the band tour Australia and New Zealand with Blaqk Audio. Between April and July 2012, Evanescence toured in Europe and North America, with additional stops in Africa and the Middle East.
Evanescence paused their tour to take part in the Carnival of Madness Tour alongside Halestorm, Cavo, New Medicine and Chevelle. This tour began on July 31, 2012, in Springfield, Illinois, and ran through September 2, 2012, ending in Buffalo, New York. The Evanescence Tour resumed in October 2012 with stops in South America, Costa Rica and Panama. The tour wrapped with a series of shows in England, ending on November 9, 2012, in London’s Wembley Arena. Lee stated the band plans to take an extended break after the tour, saying, “At the end of any really long tour you need to get your head in order. I think at the end of the run we’ll go on a break for a while and figure things out.”
In October 2013, Wind-up Records sold part of their catalog of artists, including Evanescence and their master recordings, to Bicycle Music Company. Bicycle’s sister company Concord Music Group will market the catalog.
On January 3, 2014, it was announced that Amy Lee had filed a lawsuit against former record label Wind-up Records, seeking $1.5 million in unpaid royalties owed to the band. In March 2014, via her Twitter account, Lee announced that she and Evanescence had been released from their record label and were independent artists.
In other Media
Lee claimed that she wrote a song for the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but that it was rejected because of its dark sound. Lee went on to state that it was just “more great stuff [for The Open Door]”. Another song supposedly written for Narnia was the Mozart-inspired “Lacrymosa”. The producers of Narnia, however, rebutted her claim, stating this information was “news to them” and that no Evanescence music had been planned for inclusion in the soundtrack.
In 2010, Evanescence released “Together Again” as a digital download, a song created for The Open Door but later cut. The song was released to aid the United Nations Foundation in Haiti earthquake recovery efforts. It later received wide release as a digital download on February 23, 2010.
Critics vary in terming Evanescence a rock or metal band, but most identify them as some form of gothic band: publications such as The New York Times, Rough Guides, Rolling Stone and Blender have identified Evanescence as a gothic metal act, while other sources such as NME, MusicMight, IGN, PopMatters and Spin have termed them gothic rock. They have been compared to a variety of bands from differing genres, such as nu metal ensembles like P.O.D. and Linkin Park, gothic metal groups like Lacuna Coil, and symphonic metal acts like Nightwish and Within Temptation. David Browne of Blender offers an elaborate description of the band’s music as “goth Christian nü-metal with a twist of melancholic Enya.” Adrien Begrand of Popmatters describes Evanescence as utilising “nu-metal riffage”. Adrian Jackson of My Dying Bride stated that he feels Evanescence is doing something similar to his own gothic metal group, only in a more commercial direction. Other genres and influences used to describe the band’s sound include industrial, alternative metal, progressive metal, alternative rock, hard rock, electronica, post-grunge, chamber pop, and heavy metal. The band’s official website classed their musical genre simply as “rock”.
Evanescence was originally promoted in Christian stores. Later, the band made it clear they did not want to be considered part of the Christian rock genre, like fellow Wind-up Records artists Creed. Terry Hemmings, CEO of Christian music distributor Provident, expressed puzzlement at the band’s about-face, saying, “They clearly understood the album would be sold in these [Christian music] channels.” After many Christian stores began to remove the band’s music from their shelves, Wind-up Records chairman Alan Meltzer then issued a press release in April 2003 requesting formally that they do this. In 2006, Amy Lee told Billboard that she had opposed being identified as a “Christian band” from the beginning.
- Amy Lee – lead vocals, piano, keyboards, harp (1995–present)
- Terry Balsamo – lead guitar (2003–present)
- Tim McCord – bass (2006–present)
- Will Hunt – drums (2010–present; live member 2007)
- Troy McLawhorn – rhythm guitar (2011–present; live member 2007)
- Ben Moody – lead guitar (1995–2003)
- David Hodges – keyboards, piano, drums, backing vocals (1999–2002)
- Rocky Gray – drums, percussion (2003–2007; live member 2002–2003)
- John LeCompt – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2003–2007; live member 2002–2003)
- Will Boyd – bass guitar (2003–2006)
- Francesco DiCosmo – bass guitar (2003; appears on “Fallen”)
- Josh Freese – drums, percussion (2003; appears on “Fallen”)
- Fallen (2003)
- The Open Door (2006)
- Evanescence (2011)
Awards and Nominations
|2003||Kerrang! Awards||Best International Newcomer||Evanescence||Won|
|MTV Europe Music Awards||Best Song||“Bring Me to Life”||Nominated|
|Best New Act||Evanescence||Nominated|
|2003||Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica||Best Rock Artist — International||Evanescence||Nominated|
|2004||World Music Awards||Best Rock Artist||Evanescence||Won|
|Grammy Award||Best New Artist||Evanescence||Won|
|Album of the Year||Fallen||Nominated|
|Best Rock Album||Nominated|
|Best Hard Rock Performance||“Bring Me to Life”||Won|
|Best Rock Song||Nominated|
|2004||Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica||Best Rock Artist — International||Evanescence||Nominated|
|2005||Grammy Award||Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals||“My Immortal”||Nominated|
|2006||MTV Europe Music Awards||Best Rock||Evanescence||Nominated|
|2007||Kerrang! Awards||Sexiest Female||Amy Lee||Won|
|MTV Australia Awards||Album of the Year||The Open Door||Won|
|Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica||Best Rock Artist — International||Evanescence||Won|
|MTV Europe Music Awards||Rock Out||Evanescence||Nominated|
|2008||Grammy Award||Best Hard Rock Performance||“Sweet Sacrifice”||Nominated|
|2008||National Music Publishers Association||Songwriter Icon Award||Amy Lee||Won|
|2011||Loudwire Music Awards||Rock Song of the Year||“What You Want”||Won|
|Comeback of the Year||Evanescence||Won|
|Artist of the Year||Evanescence||Nominated|
|Rock Album of the Year||Evanescence||Nominated|
|Rock Goddess of the Year||Amy Lee||Nominated|
|2012||Revolver Golden Gods Award||Best Vocalist||Amy Lee||Won|
|Album of the Year||Evanescence||Nominated|
|Comeback of the Year||Evanescence||Nominated|
|Most Dedicated Fans||Evanescence||Nominated|
|Kerrang! Awards||Best International Band||Evanescence||Nominated|
|Hottest Female||Amy Lee||Nominated|
|MTV Europe Music Awards||Best World Stage Performance||Evanescence||Nominated|
Awards Procession and Succession
|Grammy Award for Best New Artist