MR. BIG (1988–2002). Eric Martin (vocals), Paul Gilbert (guitar, replaced by Richie Kotzen), Billy Sheehan (bass), Pat Torpey (drums).
Mr. Big were one of the most popular metal supergroups made up of virtuoso musicians. The band started in 1988, when bassist Billy Sheehan had grown tired of playing with perpetual man-child David Lee Roth and went off in search of another group of musicians. He soon found them in ace guitarist Paul Gilbert, lately of Racer X, and the more obscure but equally talented Eric Martin on vocals, and Pat Torpey on drums. The first record was a warm-up for the popular second record, which scored hit singles and videos with the relatively soft, but still well-played, singles “To Be With You” and “Just Take My Heart.”
Sadly, after Bump Ahead failed to chart, the band was derailed by grunge, as most metal bands had been around the same time. Luckily, as many other metal bands of the time also found out, there was a lucrative Japanese market, and the band toured there and the Far East for most of the next decade as one could infer from the number of live releases from Japan. Gilbert left to work on his own projects after the release of Static and was replaced by early Poison axe-man Richie Kotzen for a few more years, but the band eventually called it quits in 2002. Mr. Big are best known for the virtuoso combination of Sheehan and Gilbert, one of the great bass and guitar combos in metal history. More proof that the Japanese market is more interested in sheer shredding than the American market.
Discography: Mr. Big (Atlantic, 1989); Lean into It (Atlantic, 1991); Bump Ahead (Atlantic, 1993); Japandemonium [live] (Atlantic, 1994); Raw Like Sushi [live] (Import, 1994); Raw Like Sushi 2 [live] (Import, 1994); Big, Bigger, Biggest! The Best of Mr. Big (Atlantic, 1996); Hey Man (Atlantic, 1996); Live at Budokan (WEA, 1997); Live at the Hard Rock Cafe (WEA, 1998); Static (WEA, 1999); Get Over It (Atlantic, 2000); Deep Cuts: The Best of the Ballads (WEA/Atlantic, 2000); Deep Cuts: The Very Best of Mister Big (WEA International, 2000); Actual Size (Atlantic, 2001); In Japan [live] (East West Japan, 2002).