Hailing from Blue Island, Illinois, Enuff Z' Nuff was formed in 1984 by guitarist/vocalist Donnie Vie and bassist Chip Z' Nuff. Originally known as Enough Z' Nuff, the duo immediately began writing songs together. Leaning heavily on their influences of The Beatles, Badfinger, Slade, Queen, Elvis Costello and their home state heroes Cheap Trick, Vie and Z' Nuff built a catalog of hundreds of songs in short order and began hitting clubs all around Chicago.
Enuff Z' Nuff took their shot at big time success when they released their self-titled debut album on Acto Records in August of 1989. Glam metal was taking it's last gasp of breathe and Enuff Z' Nuff were pushed right into the middle of it all. While the band did have the glam image, their music was not metal and it certainly felt more sincere than their glam metal counterparts. Big media even took notice of Enuff Z' Nuff being quite different than the flavor of the week that the labels were churning out at the time. Rolling Stone magazine describe their music as "Beatle-esque song craft and ripping hard rock" while Billboard magazine called them "a truly gifted power pop act." Even radio shock jock Howard Stern took an interest in the band and often featured them on his nationally syndicated radio show, Stern would later write liner notes for the bands fourth album 1985. In the liner notes Stern mentioned a trip he had taken to a remote deserted island and he only took five cassettes with him and three of them were Ennuff Z' Nuff. Enuff Z' Nuff made back to back appearances on Late Night With David Letterman and Letterman said "when it comes to rock 'n roll kids, these guys are all you need." Kiss' Paul Stanley said "Their debut album is a classic!"
It would seem that everything was set in place for Enuff Z' Nuff to become a household name, but it just wasn't in the cards. The debut album did quite well and spawned the MTV hits "New Thing" and "Fly High Michelle." By the the time the band released their second album Strength the music climate had changed and anyone associated with the glam metal scene found it tough to get any attention. Strength was a far superior album to the bands debut album and found the band delving deeper into their Beatle-inspired power pop roots. Acto Records dropped the band but they were quickly picked up by Arista Records for their third record, Animals With Human Intelligence. Almost as soon as they were signed to Arista they would find themselves without a label again. This would be the bands last go around with the majors and Chip and Donnie forged ahead releasing their music on indie labels and sometimes you could only track down their new music via Japanese imports. Although they no longer had the support of a major label the quality of their music never suffered. If anything, it continued to get better with each record.
To date the band has released 12 studio records with a 13th on the way in December. The bands has had its share of inner turmoil, including the death of guitarist Derek Frigo in 2004 and the death of drummer Ricky Parent in 2007. Donnie and Chip have been the creative force behind the band and have struggled to keep the name of the band alive. Donnie has been in and out of the group a couple times and is currently not a touring member of the band. Chip is currently fronting the band and has a entirely new line-up touring the country. Their new record coming out in December - called Clown's Lounge - is an archival release of songs the band recorded around 1988 but never released. Donnie Vie has released several solo records over the past decade or so and continues making music on his own.
My personal history with Enuff Z' Nuff dates back to 1990 when a band I was in opened for them at a teen club in Huntington, WV. We got to hang out with the band and they were really nice to us, which isn't always the case when you get an opening slot for a national act. I continued to follow the band and would open for them a couple more times over the years. The most interesting interaction I ever had with the band was sharing the stage with singer Donnie Vie for a one-off solo show he did at Oldfields On High here in Columbus in 2002. Donnie was in town for the holidays and wanted to play a show but didn't have a band. Donnie's wife at the time was a mutual friend and she reached out to me and asked if my band would be interested in backing Donnie up at this show. Of course we said we would. We scheduled a few rehearsals with Donnie and we had been doing our homework, so we already knew a bunch of songs. Donnie wanted to play mostly songs that we didn't know but by the end of rehearsals we had a pretty solid set put together. The night of the show the set list went out the window and Donnie said, "We are gonna play one we have never played before...." He looked at me and sayid, "Stand By Me, John Lennon style." I launched into the opening guitar part, the band joined in and the rest is kind of a blur. Donnie ended the set with a swan dive into our drummer's drum kit. It was a crazy night but we all survived, barely. Although Donnie knows my name, throughout this whole experience he always referred to me as "Fingers."
I'm writing this piece with the hope that it will shed some light on this great little band from the 1980's that not many people remember, but also as a tribute to the loyal fans that have stuck by the band for almost 30 years. Illinois has spawned so many great power pop bands like Shoes, Material Issue, Off Broadway, Pezband, and of course Cheap Trick. Enuff Z' Nuff has elements of all those bands in their music and they also managed to carve out their own unique sound. If you are looking for a "new thing" to listen to, I would suggest picking up an Enuff Z' Nuff CD. I think you will be pleasantly surprise.
The current touring version of Enuff Z' Nuff will be playing the Alrosa Villa on Saturday October 29th.
Check out the clips below for a little taste of what Enuff Z' Nuff is all about....
Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH bands Radio Tramps andReturning April. Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.