As the lead singer and principal songwriter for Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas found success with a blend of '70s rock influences, slick hooks, and '90s post-grunge crunch. The Florida-based band broke through in 1996 with "Push" and never looked back, issuing single after single, scoring hits in various radio formats, and watching their debut LP, Yourself or Someone Like You, go platinum 12 times over in the U.S. Thomas himself won numerous songwriting awards as the scribe of such Matchbox hits as "Real World," "If You're Gone," "Bent," and "Mad Season," and he later parlayed that success into a career as a solo artist.
Rob Thomas was born February 14, 1972, on an Army base in Landstuhl, Germany. His parents divorced, and the ex-Army brat spent most of his childhood in South Carolina and Florida. After dropping out of high school at 17, he bounced around the South singing in pickup rock bands before relocating to Orlando in 1993. There, he helped form the band Tabitha's Secret, a precursor to Matchbox Twenty. Although the group enjoyed some regional success, Thomas eventually left the lineup with bassist Brian Yale and drummer Paul Doucette in tow, and the departing musicians formed Matchbox Twenty with guitarists Adam Gaynor and Kyle Cook. The band's multi-platinum debut, Yourself or Someone Like You, established Matchbox Twenty as a superstar act, but Thomas wasn't individually well known.
That all changed when Thomas co-wrote the chart-topping single "Smooth" for the Carlos Santana album Supernatural. "Smooth" was ubiquitous in 1999, and it made Thomas a star. The track took home three Grammys, including the coveted Song of the Year award, and Thomas landed on People's Most Beautiful People list. Meanwhile, he also married model Marisol Maldonado. Mad Season (2000) and More Than You Think You Are (2002) continued Matchbox Twenty's success, but after years of touring in support of both records, the bandmembers decided they needed a break, and Thomas used the hiatus to write and record his first solo album. When "Lonely No More" debuted in early 2005, its sleek and funky dance-pop sound was closer to Justin Timberlake than Matchbox, and it helped stir up anticipation for the April release of the chart-topping Something to Be.
In 2007, Thomas reunited with Matchbox Twenty for several tour dates and the release of the band's retrospective collection Exile on Mainstream. He then delivered his 2009 sophomore solo effort, Cradlesong, which debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 chart. Three years later, he was once again back with Matchbox Twenty for the group's fourth studio album, North. In 2015, Thomas released his third solo LP, The Great Unknown. The album contained several collaborations including the single "Trust You," which was co-written and produced by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder. ~ Johnny Loftus