The upstate New York man who loves cigarettes, his wife and his child has released several chart-topping hits that smoothly ponder lonesomeness and life’s disappointments.
Thomas has a staying power in adult contemporary rock circles. He earned three Grammy awards for co-writing and singing on the Carlos Santana triple-platinum hit “Smooth.” While the front man for Matchbox 20, Thomas also flexed his songwriting muscle with No. 1 hits like “Push,” “3AM,” “If You’re Gone,” “Bent,” “Disease,” and “Unwell.” Other major hits that made radio waves included “Real World,” “Back 2 Good,” “Mad Season” and “Bright Lights.”
But years ago, before his days with Matchbox 20, he was the military brat who tripped out on acid then stole whatever he wanted. Thomas did two months in jail at age 17 for stealing a Camaro.
“When I was an acid fiend — I know it seems so typical — but I’d listen to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” over and over and over, finding the hidden meanings,” Thomas told Rolling Stone Magazine in a May 2005 interview. “I was a big acidhead for a long time. Take four hits, wait three days. Take four hits, go to Disney [World] all tripped out.”
Thomas was born on a military base in Germany to an Army dad and a mom who battled cancer for much of Thomas’ adolescent life. The Matchbox 20 song “3AM,” written by Thomas, is a reflection of his struggles during this time. Thomas was 12 when his mother was diagnosed and given six months to live. She beat the disease and was in remission by the time he left home at 17.
Thomas’ worldwide fame started with a secret – Tabitha’s Secret. Thomas joined the rock group Tabitha’s Secret in the early 1990s in Florida. Most of the members, including Thomas, stayed around in 1996 when they changed the band name to Matchbox 20 and took the act to Atlantic Records.
The group toured the world for 10 years, selling more than 45 million albums worldwide, including “Yourself or Someone Like You,” “Mad Season” and “More Than You Think You Are.”
The group was nominated for 12 awards, including three Grammy nominations. However, it only won one: the People’s Choice Award in 2004 for favorite musical group.
Then in April 2005, Thomas ventured out on his own.
His solo album, “Something To Be,” shot to No. 1 on the album charts the week it was released. Thomas sang about being “Lonely No More” and “This Is How a Heart Breaks.” The third single, “Ever the Same” went gold and became a top five Adult Contemporary hit.
His January 2007 single “Little Wonders,” made it to the soundtrack of the Disney flick “Meet the Robinsons.”
Thomas recently released his sophomore solo effort “Cradlesong.” The lead single, “Her Diamonds,” chronicles the struggles of a couple dealing with the wife’s illness. Thomas’ wife, Marisol, is currently battling an autoimmune disease.
Upon the release of “Cradlesong,” Rolling Stone Magazine wrote, “Thomas’ second solo album shows, not for the first time, that he may well be Phil Collins’ heir: a talented, big-time pro with a fine voice and a finer way with hooks.”
But it goes on to say, “Rob Thomas will never, ever be cool. Thomas has been the large-lunged, chest-thumping voice of straight-down-the-middle pop rock since 1996, when he emerged at the helm of Matchbox Twenty. He writes big, blowzy songs about love and angst, occasionally sounds like he’s trying to eat his microphone, and is the bearer of what may be the least appealing shag haircut in popular-music history. But there’s no doubting that he’s a powerful singer, and with his biggest hit — the ferociously cheesy Latin-rock Santana collabo ‘Smooth’ — he proved that he can swing as well as bludgeon.”
Thomas will be at the Reno Events Center on Saturday for a 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $40 and $60 and are available at Ticketmaster outlets and at the Silver Legacy and Reno Event Center box office by calling 335-8840. Bands One Republic and Carolina Liar are opening for Thomas.