The Aquarium Rescue Unit's ever-rotating lineup became a fixture on the early jam band scene, eventually spawning members of the Allman Brothers Band, Phil Lesh and Friends, Leftover Salmon, and Frogwings. The band's fun fusion of bluegrass, rock, Latin, jazz, and impeccable chops became a template for much future work in the genre.
Growing out of a weekly Atlanta jam session hosted by the legendary Col. Bruce Hampton, the Aquarium Rescue Unit performed around their native Southeast with a rotating lineup before settling on the group that would be heard on their two Capricorn Records releases in 1991 and 1993, respectively.
After recording their self-titled live debut in 1991, the band embarked on the first two H.O.R.D.E. tours during the summers of 1992 and 1993, where they found musical compatriots with bands like Phish, Blues Traveler, the Spin Doctors, and fellow Georgians Widespread Panic. Cross-pollination was frequent, with members of the Unit and other bands frequently appearing on-stage or in the studio with their tourmates.
Though the band never officially broke up, over the next few years, touring tapered off and the members went in different directions. In early 2006, an almost complete original ARU line-up reunited to play at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO.
Now The Aquarium Rescue Unit are back together, featuring:
COL. BRUCE HAMPTON (guitar, vocals) was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Atlanta; with deep roots in the south, its no wonder he has been noted as the godfather of Southern alternative music. Since age 8 Bruce has been influenced by the sounds of John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Bobby Bland, and B.B. King. He was an original member of the Hampton Grease Band, and went on to be a founding member of Aquarium Rescue Unit, the Figi Mariners, and The Codetalkers. Bruce's rough voice and guitar playing set him apart as an experimental artist. In addition to music, Col. Bruce Hampton is also an accomplished actor and film maker. Bruce excels at whatever venture he pursues, whether it is music or film: he is a true artist at heart.
JIMMY HERRING (guitar) Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Jimmy started playing guitar at age 13; his first guitar was a Fender Bronco. Jimmy is a graduate of the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, CA. Herring can look back on a career filled with years as a player in such legendary bands as Aquarium Rescue Unit, The Allman Brothers, The Dead (The Post-Jerry Garcia version of The Grateful Dead) and Phil Lesh and Friends. Most recently, we're proud to announce that Jimmy Herring has joined Widespread Panic.
JEFF SIPE AKA APT Q-258 (drums) Jeff Sipe was born in Berlin, Germany in 1959. Jeff's family moved frequently in his youth while his father worked for the United States government. Some of his early memories include watching Buddhist monks in their bright orange togas walk the streets with their bowls of rice in hand. Jeff once said that he would "often visit the temples just to hear the ringing of the bells". Jeff learned to play drums in junior high in Germany, and in 1973 Jeff's family moved to the U.S. for good. Jeff started listening to early fusion, and was once quoted as saying that "Bitches Brew was the beginning of the rest of his life". Jeff was accepted to Berklee College of Music in 1977 and started his first fusion band with Steve Vai and Baron Brown. This experience turned Jeff on to a wide world of music and gave him valuable tools that he still carries with him today. In 1983 Jeff moved to Atlanta, where he met Bruce Hampton, Oteil Burbridge and Jimmy Herring, and the Aquarium Rescue Unit was born. In recent years, Jeff has played with Leftover Salmon, his own experimental big band Zambiland Orchastra and Project Z with Jimmy Herring.
OTEIL BURBRIDGE (bass) For years, Burbridge has been bassist for the forefathers of Southern rock, the Allman Brothers Band. Critics and fans alike have credited his sound as a key component in the ensemble's shift from a classic rock staple to a jam-band favorite. But when the Allmans are off the road, which they are for roughly half of the year, Burbridge leads his own band of merry groove merchants -- a soul, funk and fusion ensemble known as the Peacemakers.
"I started playing drums when I was five. I was beating on everything in the house with whatever I could find, and my parents were not able to deal with that, so they bought me a snare drum. They figured they would channel that energy in some direction. I think later on though, my parents were always into the arts in general and had a lot of instruments around the house, so there was always something to play there. My parents were heavily into music listening wise and my dad actually played flute a little bit. It has always been around. It was very familiar. We all did piano and violin and I played bass clarinet for a long time."
BOBBY LEE RODGERS (guitar, vocals) A gifted musician and songwriter, Bobby Lee Rodgers began playing the upright bass at age seven, and then went on to the banjo, guitar and drums. He had the fortune of playing in one of the most recognized high school bands in the country, which allowed him to play with some jazz greats at a young age. Rodgers went on to study Jazz at the University of Georgia, and to teach the same subject at the Berklee College of Music, becoming one of the youngest professors ever to teach there at the age of 23. Rodgers moved back to Georgia in 1999 when his father became ill. A day after moving home, he met Col. Bruce Hampton. Within months they had formed The Codetalkers. TheCodetalkers just recently celebrated the release of the critically acclaimed album, NOW.