A fine vocalist, writer, musician, and highly successful record producer, Linda Perry has led a serious and occasionally subversive career, punctuated by her individualism and sense of artistic purpose.
Born on April 15, 1965, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Perry spent her youth struggling with kidney disease and then addiction before focusing on music. Growing up in an artistic and musical household, the young Perry displayed a good share of musical talent and interest from an early age. During her teenage years, Perry floundered in school and tried unsuccessfully to form several bands in the San Diego area. A drug problem prevented the singer/guitarist from starting off her career at an early age, but after a few close calls and a move to San Francisco in the late '80s, she cleaned up and began making some real artistic and professional gains. During this period, Perry discovered and refined her powerful singing voice. Part Grace Slick, part Johnnette Napolitano, but unique in her own right and a little quirky, it didn't take long before Perry's solo performances at various Bay Area nightclubs were attracting the attention of scenesters and fellow musicians. One such musician was Christa Hillhouse, who was in quest of a new lead vocalist for her group 4 Non Blondes. Hillhouse asked Perry to join up with her outfit, which also included Shauna Hall and Wanda Day. Perry agreed to give it a try and it wasn't long before 4 Non Blondes were being courted and eventually signed by Interscope Records. The group's debut, Bigger, Better, Faster, More, was released on Interscope in 1992. After a very slow start sales-wise, the David Tickle-produced album began to break in 1993 when a modern rock disc jockey in Las Vegas began spinning "What's Up?" Interscope then began pushing the song, which had by this time developed a life of its own. A video was produced and MTV took an immediate and prolonged shine it, giving the band massive exposure. As "What's Up?" became a huge international hit, 4 Non Blondes seemed to be everywhere. During a period of about two years, Perry and her bandmates appeared on the Airheads and Wayne's World 2 soundtracks, released two more singles and accompanying videos (for "Spaceman" and "Dear Mr. President"), toured the globe, appeared on Carpenters and Led Zeppelin tribute releases, and finally appeared on Roger Daltrey's televised 50th birthday party, which ended up being their final performance. While working on their follow-up to the six-million-unit-selling Bigger, Better, Faster, More, Perry left the group due to personal problems within the band. After departing 4 Non Blondes, Perry began work on some solo material and formed her own label, Rockstar Records, which later signed Stone Fox and 2 Lane Blacktop. Perry also began a producing and session career by joining Stone Fox in the studio and helping out on former BangleSusanna Hoffs' self-titled solo disc. Perry herself was joined by the likes of Grace Slick, Lisa Germano, and Sheryl Crow producer Bill Bottrell on In Flight, her 1996 solo debut. Darker and more dynamic than her work with 4 Non Blondes, Perry came into her own as an artist on this exceptional recording. Released on Interscope, In Flight was perhaps too dour or sincere to capitalize on the alt-pop success of 4 Non Blondes and the record was hardly noticed by critics, radio, or fans. After In Flight, Perry moved to Southern California and continued working on production and film projects, as well as running her label. In 1999, she released her second solo effort, the stripped-down, almost bluesy After Hours. In 2001 Perry penned what would become one of her biggest hits, but it would be Christina Aguilera who would deliver "Beautiful" to the masses via her Grammy winning 2002 album Stripped, which featured production work from Perry. The following years saw Perry working with a host of successful pop stars, penning and producing a flurry of hit singles and albums. In 2005, she inked a deal with Kill Rock Stars, who reissued a deluxe version of 1996's In Flight, and in 2010, she released the LP 8 Songs About a Girl, the debut album from her new project with Tony Tornay called Deep Dark Robot. In 2015, Perry and wife Sara Gilbert released an album of children's music titled Deer Sounds. ~ Vincent Jeffries, Rovi