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Two Views of Hootie & the Blowfish Revealed in New Books


The pop band, Hootie & the Blowfish is the subject matter of two new books, one a biography (Only Wanna Be with You: The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish), the other an autobiography (Swimming with the Blowfish: Hootie, Healing, and One Hell of a Ride) to be released later this year.

It is said that guitar-playing Mark Bryan heard vocalist Darius Rucker singing in a dorm shower at the University of South Carolina in 1985. Bryan quickly asked Rucker if he would like to start a band. Just starting out, the two freshman began playing cover tunes and went by the name of the Wolf Brothers.

By 1986, the pair met up with bassist Dean Felber, a high school friend of Bryan’s and drummer, Brantley Smith. The band was now going by the name of Hootie & the Blowfish, which is mix of the nicknames of two of their friends in college. Brantley was the first to leave the band when he finished college so that he could pursue a career in music ministry (however, he would continue to play with the band from time to time). He was replaced by Jim “Soni” Sonefeld. However, it wasn’t until eight years later that the band released their debut album, Cracked Rear View. With four hits (“Hold My Hand”, “Let Her Cry”, “Only Wanna Be with You” and “Time) it became the best-selling album of 1995. The music video for Only Wanna Be with You”, which was a collaboration with ESPN’s SportsCenter was a huge hit. The band were even incorporated (although not seen) in an episode of the sitcom, Friends. The following year, the band won two Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Hootie & the Blowfish continued playing through 2008 when the band went on hiatus. It wasn’t until 2019 that they began to tour again with the release of a new album, Imperfect Circle.

Music journalist Tim Sommer’s Only Wanna Be with You: The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish will be made available on April 28, 2022. Publisher University of South Carolina Press calls Sommer “the ultimate insider” who signed the band to Atlantic Records and with his book “pulls back the curtain on a band that defied record-industry odds to break into the mainstream by playing hacky sack music in the age of grunge.”

In his book, Sommer chronicles the band’s early days to their chart-topping successes on 1995 as well as the near cancelation of the band’s major-label debut; Darius Rucker’s solo career in country music and the comeback story. According to the publisher, it features “extensive new interviews with the band members, some of their most famous fans, and stories from the recording studio, tour bus, and golf course. This book is essential reading for Hootie lovers and music buffs.”

Jim Sonefeld’s book, Swimming with the Blowfish: Hootie, Healing, and One Hell of a Ride, is bound to have a lot of the same stories while also recounting years of personal struggles with drugs and alcohol. It is a redeeming story of how he fought hard with embracing grace he found through his faith in God. “After years of struggles with drugs and alcohol, the Hootie & the Blowfish drummer found a sober mind and clarity through a newfound spiritual path,” says publisher Diversion Books who will be releasing the book on June 28, 2022.

Jim Sonefeld’s book, Swimming with the Blowfish: Hootie, Healing, and One Hell of a Ride, is bound to have a lot of the same stories while also recounting years of personal struggles with drugs and alcohol. It is a redeeming story of how he fought hard with embracing grace he found through his faith in God. “After years of struggles with drugs and alcohol, the Hootie & the Blowfish drummer found a sober mind and clarity through a newfound spiritual path,” says publisher Diversion Books who will be releasing the book on June 28, 2022.

“In the early 2000s Sonefeld began relying on drugs and alcohol to feed an emptiness growing inside of him and would struggle to control his substance use,” says the publisher. “It wasn’t until late 2004 that he finally accepted he was powerless over drugs and alcohol. It was there he made a turn that would save his life and eventually alter his spiritual path. With a sober mind and new clarity, he began writing about his transcendent experience and the journey into healthier, happier living.”

In addition, Sonefeld just released a new single “Bow to Him” from his upcoming album, Remember Tomorrow, his fourth faith-focused album, and says that it “celebrates a full submission to love.” The album will be released around the same time as the book.

Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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