Chris Barron was born in Honolulu, HI, in 1968, while his father, a Vietnam veteran, was stationed at Pearl Harbor during the divisive war. Barron spent his childhood in the Bronx and Rye, NY, before moving to Australia for over three years. When his family returned to the States, Barron attended the same high school in Princeton, NJ, as members of Blues Traveler. Barron and John Popper were close high school friends; the two shared feelings of being an outsider. Barron felt like he was neither an Australian nor an American at that point — he was just out there.
While at Princeton High, Barron and Popper would jam together after school. Barron was actually in the first incarnation of Blues Traveler, when it was the Blues Band, but was eventually kicked out. (This may have even been before that first version of the band was even considered a band.) Barron has often described Princeton as "the wall that we were all banging our heads against." In his youth, he was quoted as saying that he wouldn't care if the whole town burned down, except for a famous sandwich shop called Hoagie Heaven. His feelings changed in adulthood, but Barron's youth was defined by a certain amount of soul-searching.
Barron attended Bennington College in Vermont for only a year. There, he was a member of two local bands: Dead Alcoholics With Boners and the Funbunnies. After leaving Bennington, Barron returned to Princeton, got a job at a restaurant, and immersed himself in music. It was during this time that he wrote the songs "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" and "Two Princes." One night, Blues Traveler was in town and, after hanging out for night and hearing his songs, invited Barron to move in with them in New York City.
New York City is where Barron met the future members of the Spin Doctors: Mark White, Aaron Comess, and Eric Schenkman. The band released Up for Grabs and Pocket Full of Kryptonite in 1991, but the latter took nearly a year to break through. When it did, the band was embraced by MTV, mainstream radio, and Apple Computers, who sponsored their biggest headlining tour; a Grammy nomination followed. The band never had a successful follow-up to the multi-platinum album, due in large part to personality conflicts. Guitarist Eric Schenkman left the band before the release of Turn It Upside Down, and was barely part of the odds-and-ends CD, though he is credited on many of the songs. In fact, the first album with all-new material was 1996's You've Got to Believe in Something, which came out a full five years after their debut. Mark White would also quit the band, leaving only two original members as part of the group.
Chris Barron's legacy is significant. He has a Grammy nomination, a Rolling Stone cover, and two Top Ten hits — "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" and "Two Princes" — for which he won a BMI award. While now considered a one-hit wonder, the Spin Doctors were one of the most popular and ubiquitous bands of the early-'90s rock scene.
In 1999, doctors believed that Barron would never sing again because of a rare vocal chord paralysis. He defied the odds, however, with a full recovery. Following intense treatment and training, his voice remained stronger than ever. A solo album called Shag was released in 2001. The mature album includes diverse influences, including rock, jazz, country, and funk. ~ JT Griffith