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Members include WesBorland (born 1975), guitar; FredDurst (born 1971 in Jacksonville, FL; son of a retired narcotics officer who became a landscaping business owner and a former social worker who later worked as an administrator for a Lutheran church; children: daughter Adriana, born 1990), rapper, vocals; DJ Lethal (born Leor DiMant in 1970; son of Jewish Latvian immigrants; former member of House of Pain; joined band 1995), turntables; JohnOtto (born 1978), drums; SamRivers (born 1977), bass. Addresses: Home--Jacksonville, FL (Durst lives in Los Angeles, CA); Record company--Interscope Records, 10900 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1230, Los Angeles, CA 90024 Phone: (310) 208-6574.
In the late 1990s, Limp Bizkit changed the belief that hard-edged rock was dead by developing a hybrid of rap and rock music. Formed in 1994, the group perfected their outrageous stage shows and released their 1997 debut release entitled Three Dollar Bill, Y'All$, which included the stereo-infused cover of George Michael's pop hit "Faith." Throughout 1998, Limp Bizkit performed with both the Warped and Ozzfest tours, as well as with the inaugural Family Values tours headlined by the rock band Korn. For their Ozzfest sets, Limp Bizkit shocked audiences by emerging from a gigantic toilet, and performances with Family Values came complete with a troupe of break dancers and a science fiction-themed stage. In order to gain female fans, Limp Bizkit also traveled on their own for two months to put on "Ladies Night in Cambodia," for which the first 200 women to attend each night received free admission.
By the end of 1999, Three Dollar Bill, Y'All$ had gone double platinum. Their subsequent album, 1999's Significant Other, proved an even greater success and debuted at number one on the Billboard album chart, selling 635,000 copies in its first week alone. After another round with the Family Values tour, an appearance at Woodstock 1999, and a headlining tour of their own, Limp Bizkit secured their rock star status.
Although guitarist Wes Borland, bassist Sam Rivers, drummer John Otto, and turntable man DJ Lethal simply enjoyed performing and reaping the rewards of their new-found wealth, rapper Fred Durst had dreamed of the fame and attention for some time. A self described workaholic who moved to Los Angeles to live closer to the heart of the entertainment industry (his band mates stayed in Jacksonville), Durst wants to do it all. In addition to fronting Limp Bizkit, Durst directed two of the group's videos for the songs "Faith" and "Nookie," helped design his band's outlandish stages, worked as a representative for Flip/Interscope Records, and performed on records with other artists such as Korn, Videodrome, and Soulfly. In July of 1999, Interscope appointed Durst senior vice president and gave him his own imprint. In the midst of all this, he also started writing a screenplay, hoping to one day direct and produce movies.
Durst, born in Jacksonville, Florida, spent most of his childhood in the small, southeastern town of Gastonia, North Carolina, where he lived until he graduated from high school in a middle-class neighborhood. His father worked for the Gaston County police department, and at the time of his retirement, he served as chief of undercover narcotics. Durst's mother worked in a mental health facility as a social worker. While Durst's parents did not quite understand their son's interest in rap, punk music, and wearing wild clothes and earrings, they nevertheless supported his taste in musical and popular culture. When Durst discovered break dancing, for example, his father built a studio in the family's garage, and his mother sewed uniforms for his break dancing group called the Dynamic 3.
Felt Like an Outsider
Living in a home with a police officer father made an impact on Durst and helped keep him out of trouble, as he explained to Jon Wiederhorn in an interview for Allmusic Zine. "I've seen him come home shot when I was real young, and I've seen the people he had to deal with because of drugs and stuff, and that kept me out of it. He's been shot a couple of times, and he'd come home from the hospital, and you're just like, 'Holy shit!' There were crazy raids and shit. The drug dealers attacked him.... I remember when pot came into my life, but I never did anything else. I was too scared to. I had horror stories straight from the mouth."
Durst attended racially mixed schools and made a lot of African American friends growing up who introduced him to the emerging hip-hop music by New York-based groups in the 1980s. He especially liked records by the Sugarhill Gang. He was known as one of the few white boys in Gastonia that lived for break dancing and old school hip-hop music, though he enjoyed skate boarding and listening to punk, ska, metal, and rock as well. Durst sometimes felt like an outsider at his school where blacks and whites seldom hung out together. "Gastonia's got this small-town attitude," Durst explained to Zev Borow in Spin magazine.
Even though Durst had his share of run-ins with other white kids because of his choice of friends, he nonetheless described life in Gastonia as "awesome" and "just as up-to-date as anywhere else." The future rock/rap star, who started break dancing around 1982, entering local dance contests around 1984, rapping in 1984, and deejaying in 1985, said to Wiederhorn, "I had a couple friends who were into what I was into: breakdancing, rapping, deejaying, skate boarding.... I was definitely the outcast of the city, but I still had those couple of friends who lived in their own little world." However, Durst liked other types of music in addition to rap and hip-hop. Some of his early influences included the rock band Ratt, as well as alternative rock acts such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Rage Against the Machine.
Went to Boot Camp
A good student throughout grade school and high school, after graduation Durst admitted that dreams of rapping, skate boarding, forming a metal-rap group, and achieving fame started to cloud his academic intentions. He decided to enroll at Gaston College to study art, but dropped his classes only four days later. As time passed, Durst ran out of money and resorted to sleeping on friends' couches. Feeling like a "loser," as he admitted to Steven Daly of Rolling Stone, and wanting to please his parents, Durst chose to enlist in the United States Navy. After serving 18 "soul-destroying" months at boot camp in San Francisco, California, Durst injured his wrist skate boarding and received a medical discharge. Returning to North Carolina, Durst worked at a skate park in the city of Charlotte, then moved to Jacksonville with his parents when his father retired from the police force. Within this time Durst also married, divorced, and had a daughter with his former wife named Adriana (born 1990), who lives with her mother in Florida.
In Jacksonville, Durst's father opened a landscaping business, and Durst worked for him as a foreman for a time, while his mother took a job performing administrative duties at a Lutheran church. Durst also started working part-time at a surf shop and learned how to tattoo. At first, he tattooed people just for fun and admits to making some mistakes on people in the beginning.
Still, he harbored the idea of forming his own band, and in 1994, after seeing Rivers play with a local metal group at a club, Durst persuaded the bass guitarist to try something new. Rivers's cousin Otto, at the time studying jazz at a performing arts high school, joined the group on drums, and Borland offered his services on guitar after seeing Durst perform his rap onstage. "I'd never really seen someone sing-rap like that," Borland recalled to Borow. Although Borland was already fronting another band, he quit in order to join Limp Bizkit. Before the band was signed, though, Durst had kicked Borland out of the band because he felt that his musical tastes were too different, replacing him twice with other guitarists. DJ Lethal came on board the following year. Limp Bizkit met the former member of House of Pain when they opened for one of the group's final shows. Limp Bizkit spent two years of relentless grassroots touring before getting their big break, spending time on the Warped and Family Values tours and playing at numerous small clubs.
Near Death Experience
However, Durst soon discovered that there "wasn't anyone as good as him [Borland] who I liked as much," he told Borow. Also aiding his decision to ask Borland back involved living through a near-death experience. The band was on their way to Los Angeles to make their first record, driving through Texas near the town of Van Horn, when the driver of Limp Bizkit's van fell asleep at the wheel. He awoke in a panic and flipped the vehicle over several times. Fortunately, no one suffered serious injuries from the crash, although Durst crawled away from the wreckage with two broken feet. After the accident, Durst realized that recording without Borland didn't feel right. "It was kinda like God flipping the van," he said to Daly. "We took it as a sign to get Wes back and start all over again."
Prior to the eventful night, Durst continued to work as a tattoo artist in his spare time. By chance, he met the successful rock group Korn when the band toured in Florida and gave all the members tattoos. "Fred told us he'd been tattooing for years," Korn's front man Jonathan Davis told Daly. "But it turned out it was, like, his third tattoo! He did a KORN tattoo on [guitarist] Head's back--and it looked like HORN." Despite the mishap, Korn held no hard feelings and started spreading the word about Limp Bizkit after Durst sent Korn bassist Fieldy a demo tape. Before long, several record labels started calling to offer Limp Bizkit a contract. They were originally set to sign with MCA but backed out at the last minute. Instead, Limp Bizkit went with the Flip/Interscope label, a record company that helped artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Eminem gain a mass audience. Working with Korn producer Ross Robinson, Limp Bizkit released their 1997 debut album, Three Dollar Bill, Y'All$, and started touring with Korn.
However, before most people even heard Limp Bizkit's music on the radio, the band woke up one morning at the center of a controversy. It seemed that Interscope, known to promote groups by any means necessary, had paid a Portland, Oregon, radio station to play the "Counterfeit" single 50 times. Although the deal was technically legal because it was considered buying advertising time, many music industry insiders reacted with outrage, and the story appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Despite the commotion, Limp Bizkit remained calm and allowed the news to blow over, believing that in the end the event would not harm the group's credibility. "It wasn't like we were getting tons of radio play anyway," Durst said to Borow regarding incident.
Took Over MTV
The song "Faith," a pounding metal remake of George Michael's 1980s pop hit, did hit the airwaves, and the video took over MTV (Durst himself directed the video). Nonetheless, the album as a whole went largely overlooked at first, and many critics deemed it one dimensional. In addition, one of the tracks called "Stuck," full of misogynistic references, angered many female rock fans. Durst explained to Daly that his not so politically correct choice of lyrics resulted from a painful breakup with a former girlfriend. "If you heard what she called me... I understand that two wrongs don't make a right. I was reacting; I didn't think of the consequences. I've learned my lesson. Now I soak everything in and then I respond. And when someone criticizes my lyrics, it makes me think twice. Was I a dick? A homophobe? A chauvinist? No, but I go back to make sure." Limp Bizkit also tried to make up for Durst's lyrical mistake by putting on the two-month traveling show called "Ladies Night in Cambodia." And to promote the album, constant touring--again with pals Korn as well as turntable stylists the Deftones--helped put Limp Bizkit back in line for greater things.
In the summer of 1999, Limp Bizkit released their sophomore effort, the more creative Significant Other. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard album chart, knocking out the Backstreet Boys' Millennium for the top spot and becoming the 15th highest debut in SoundScan history. This time around, Limp Bizkit hired Terry Date (who produced albums for Helmet and Pantera) to produce the album. Date, who Borland described as more of an engineer than a producer, enabled the band to become more involved in the recording process. "We really feel like we produced a lot of this ourselves," the guitarist commented to Borow. Likewise, DJ Lethal's hip-hop sensibility sounded more apparent on Significant Other. "I choose songs to dig into," reported the turntablist. "If a track doesn't need DJing, I'm not going to force it. But even the straight-rock shit, almost all the drums are breakbeat hip-hop." Durst again directed a video to support the album, this time for Limp Bizkit's hit single "Nookie."
As before, Limp Bizkit set out on another round of touring. In addition to joining the Family Values crew, the group also took the stage at Woodstock 1999 and headlined their own tour later that fall. In July of the same year, Interscope named Durst senior vice president and gave the rapper his own imprint. His duties for the company included producing, remixing, shooting videos, and signing new acts. While so many activities may overwhelm most people, the ambitious, hard-working Durst insists that he can handle it all and more.
by Laura Hightower
Limp Bizkit's Career
Formed band, started traveling on a grass-roots tour, 1994; signed with Interscope and released debut album Three Dollar Bill, Y'All$, 1997; released follow-up album Significant Other, performed at Woodstock concert, 1999.
- Selected discography
- Three Dollar Bill, Y'All$ Interscope, 1997.
- Significant Other Flip/Interscope, 1999.
September 23, 2003: Limp Bizkit's album, Results May Vary, was released. Source: Yahoo! Shopping, shopping.yahoo.com/p___1921997631?d=product&id=1921997631&, September 26, 2003.
June 1, 2004: Limp Bizkit's compilation, Complete Set (with a book), was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_3/index.jsp, June 2, 2004.
- Rolling Stone, July 8-22, 1999; August 5, 1999; August 19, 1999.
- Spin, August 1999.
- Limp Bizkit Official Website, http:// www.limpbizkit.com (October 11, 1999).
- "Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst Lonely at the Top," Allmusic Zine, http://www.allmusic.com/zine/limp_interview.html (September 26, 1999).
- Rolling Stone.com, http://www.rollingstone.tunes.com (October 11, 1999).
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