Rob Thomas

Rob Thomas
Rob Thomas. Photo by Noam Galai / Getty Images

Birth and Early Life

Rob Thomas was born February 14, 1972 in Landstuhl, West Germany to a US Army family. His parents moved back to the US when he was six months old, and they divorced when he was two years old. He was raised by his mother and grandparents eventually dropping out of high school at age 17. 

The band Tabitha's Secret was formed in Orlando, Florida in 1993 with Rob Thomas as lead vocalist.

They earned significant regional success. The band evolved into Matchbox Twenty, but a lawsuit filed by former members was not settled until 2000.

Matchbox Twenty and the Rise To Stardom

Matchbox Twenty (originally known officially as Matchbox 20) signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1995. Their debut album Yourself or Someone Like You was released in 1996. With "Push," the second single from the collection, the band gained success across mainstream pop, rock, and alternative radio. Along with the hit "3 A.M.," it helped send the album into the top 5 on the album chart and generate US sales in excess of 10 million. Matchbox Twenty emerged as one of the most successful rock bands of the late 1990s. Their debut album ultimately sold more than ten million copies.

"Smooth"

In 1999 Rob Thomas was recruited to participate in the all-star Santana album Supernatural. He co-wrote the song "Smooth" and sang lead as a featured vocalist.

He wrote the lyrics of the song in honor of his wife Marisol Maldonado. The recording of the song was produced by Matt Serletic who had produced the debut Matchbox Twenty album and it became one of the biggest pop hits of all time. It spent 12 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and spent a total of 30 weeks in the top 10.

"Smooth" won three Grammy Awards including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Billboard ranked "Smooth" as the second most successful pop chart hit of all time. It fell behind only Chubby Checker's "The Twist" which racked up top 10 appearances on two different occasions.

Mad Season

Matchbox Twenty followed their debut album success with Mad Season in 2000. It included songs that leaned in a stronger pop direction as well as more experimental tracks. The album was another significant success hitting #3 on the album chart, selling over four million copies and generating two top 10 hits including the #1 smash "Bent."

The third Matchbox Twenty album More Than You Think You Are was released in 2002. Peaking at #6, it did not earn the same commercial success as the band's first two releases, but it included the top 10 hit single "Unwell." It also included the song "Disease" which Rob Thomas wrote with the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger.

...Something To Be

With Matchbox Twenty officially on hiatus, Rob Thomas released his first solo album ...Something To Be in 2005. By heading to #1 on the album chart, it achieved something that Matchbox Twenty had failed to do. It was also the first time that a male lead vocalist from a rock group had debuted at #1 with their first solo album.

The music was more pop oriented than Matchbox Twenty, and the lead single "Lonely No More" was a top 10 hit. With three songs from the album reaching the top 10 at adult pop radio, Rob Thomas became a staple at that format. Rob Thomas performed solo at the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia in 2005. 

Rob Thomas Reviews

  • ...Something To Be
  • "This Is How a Heart Breaks"
  • "Her Diamonds"

Cradlesong

Following the release of Matchbox Twenty's compilation album Exile on Mainstream in 2007, Rob Thomas went to work on his second solo album. The result was Cradlesong released in 2009. It was centered on songs about difficult relationships. Instrumentally, the music was influenced by the rhythmic work of South American and African percussion players. Rob Thomas says that he started off the with the idea of doing a contemporary update on Paul Simon's The Rhythm of the Saints project from 1990.

 The album received critical acclaim and debuted at #3 on the US album chart. The single "Her Diamonds" topped the adult pop chart.

The Great Unknown

Matchbox Twenty came back together in 2012 to release their fourth studio album North. It was the band's first album of all new material in a decade. The album debuted strongly at #1 becoming the first chart topping album for the group. However, it failed to produce a major hit single. The first release "She's So Mean" peaked at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Rob Thomas returned with the album The Great Unknown in 2015. He worked with a variety of producers including Matt Serletic, Ryan Tedder, and Ricky Reed. The album was an upbeat collection of songs and was led by the single "Trust You." It became Rob Thomas' third consecutive top 10 charting solo album but the singles failed to have a significant chart impact.

Awards

Rob Thomas has won three Grammy Awards as a solo artist all through his participation on Santana's single "Smooth." It took the awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. He was nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal in 2006 for his solo single "Lonely No More." He earned a Best Solo Rock Vocal nomination the same year for "This Is How a Heart Breaks."

As a member of Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas has earned four more Grammy Award nominations. They include Best Rock Album for both Mad Season and More Than You Think You Are. Matchbox Twenty also earned a Best Rock Vocal Performance By a Duo or Group for "Push" and Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo or Group for "Unwell."