Placebo are an English alternative rock band from London. They were formed in 1994 by singer-guitarist Brian Molko and guitarist/bassist Stefan Olsdal. The band was soon joined by drummer Robert Schultzberg, who was later replaced by Steve Hewitt after conflicts with Molko. Hewitt left the band in October 2007 and was replaced by Steve Forrest in 2008. Placebo are known for their androgynous image and angst-fueled musical content. To date, they have released six studio albums, all of which have reached the top 20 in the UK, and have sold over 12 million records worldwide.
Formation (1994-1995)Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal had both attended the American International School of Luxembourg, but did not cross paths properly until 1994 in London, England. At the time, Olsdal was taking guitar lessons and was on his way home when he met Molko at the South Kensington tube station. Molko, observing that Olsdal had a guitar strapped to his back, invited Olsdal to watch him perform at a local bar. On the strength of Molko's performance, Olsdal decided that they should start a band. The two formed Ashtray Heart, a lo-fi duo, playing mostly on toy instruments.
Originally, the two were unable to decide on a drummer. Molko had some experience playing with Steve Hewitt, making him the ideal choice. However, Hewitt had prior commitments to the London band Breed, and only had time to play on occasional demos with Molko and Olsdal. This led Robert Schultzberg to assume the position of drummer when the band signed its contract with Caroline Records. Schultzberg had known Olsdal from boarding school in Sigtuna, Sweden where they'd played together in a band.
The name "Placebo", Olsdal remarked in an MTV interview, was chosen because of its Latin origins; "placebo" literally translates from Latin as "I will please". Frequently in interviews, Molko has stated that the name is a satirical reflection of the 1990s cliche of naming one's band after a drug, though Olsdal claims this was not the original motivation for naming the band "Placebo". When asked about naming a band, Molko said: It's a complex question to answer, really. As musicians you try to find a name for your band that represents you and you never really do, because, basically, names for bands lose their meaning after a while. They become a series of sounds that you associate with people in music. The most important thing for a name is that you can imagine forty-thousand people screaming it in unison.
Debut album, lineup change, and glam connection (1996-1998)Placebo's self titled debut album was released 16 July 1996 and was a major success, peaking at No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart at the height of the Britpop era. The album featured ten tracks (eleven including the hidden bonus track "Hong Kong Farewell"), their most popular being "Nancy Boy". In 1998, Q Magazine readers voted Placebo No. 87 in the "Q Readers All Time Top 100 Albums" list. The band remastered and reissued the album on 18 September 2006 for its tenth anniversary.
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