The Lemonheads’ roster, name, and sound have all changed over the years. The only constant of all three is singer, songwriter, and guitarist Evan Dando.
Dando formed the band in the mid-1980s with Ben Deily and Jesse Peretz. Through the decades, more than 20 musicians have joined Dando to tour and record under the epithet of The Lemonheads.
The current lineup consists of Dando, Deily, Juliana Hatfield (yes, THAT Juliana Hatfield), and Ryan Adams (yes, THAT Ryan Adams). Past members include Nic Dalton, Patrick Murphy, Karl, Alvarex, and Kenny Lyon.
The founding members of the band settled on the name “Lemonheads” after being inspired by the candy. In the early 1990s, they added a “the” to their appellation.
Lemonheads started as a punk outfit but over the years morphed into an alternative rock band. Regardless, The Lemonheads have always been on the cusp of mainstream popularity. They’ve produced a lot of very good music during their run, and Lemonheads tickets are always highly coveted, but with one exception they’ve failed to create the singles necessary to capture bigtime success—even relative to the alternative music scene.
The Lemonheads breakthrough came in 1992 thanks to their studio album It’s a Shame about Ray and their cover of “Mrs. Robinson.” The album peaked at number 68 on the Billboard 200 and the single went to number eight on Billboard’s Hot Modern Rock tracks.
“Mrs. Robinson” was recorded to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Graduate—the film that used the original version of the song. Originally, “Mrs. Robinson” was not included on It’s a Shame about Ray but added when the album was re-released. “Mrs. Robinson” was written by Paul Simon and originally performed by Simon and Garfunkel.
Over the years, The Lemonheads have frequently performed It’s a Shame about Ray in its entirety in concert.
Besides fronting The Lemonheads, Dando flunked out of college, found himself on People magazine’s list of the “50 Most Beautiful People,” publically admitted to smoking crack cocaine, made a cameo in the 1994 film Reality Bites, was lead vocalist for MC5 during their 2004 tour, and is referenced in the Barenaked Ladies song “Jane.”