Alt-rock heroes the Afghan Whigs were one of the biggest underground bands in the 1990s. While they never found mainstream success they have received numerous critical accolades and a dedicated cult following, with their harrowing tales of angst and doomed love set against a backdrop of sludgy guitar rock with tinges of soul and blues, two genres relatively untouched by indie rockers at the time.
The band formed in Cincinnati in 1986 when vocalist/rhythm guitarist Greg Dulli formed a bond with bassist John Curley after a chance meeting. Dulli was a student at the University of Cincinnati at the time, while Curley was working as a photographer for The Cincinnati Enquirer. The two eventually formed the Afghan Whigs along with two of Dulli's university classmates, lead guitarist Rick McCollum and drummer Steve Earle.
The Afghan Whigs self-released their debut album Big Top Halloween in 1988, which resulted in positive word-of mouth for the band. The album eventually enabled the Whigs to hit the indie rock lottery when a copy reached the Seattle offices of uber-indie label Sub Pop. The label signed the fledgling band, which eventually released three albums their, 1990's Up In It, 1992's Congregation, and a set of R&B and soul covers called Uptown Avondale.
During the Sub Pop years, the band toured the U.S. Consistently and received nearly-uniform positive reviews for their recordings. That label of success led to the band's signing with Elektra, which released their major label debut Gentleman in 1993. The album again received massive critical acclaim, and MTV put the video for its lead single “Debonair” into heavy rotation. All the attention didn't translate into mainstream success, however, and the band's status as a cult phenomenon was all but cemented.
The Afghan Whigs were to release two more albums in the 1990s - 1996's Black Love and 1998's 1969, the latter of which especially accentuated the band's soul side. The band members soon found themselves living in different states, however, and eventually called it quits in 2001, citing geographical separation.
In 2006, the band temporarily reconvened to record two new songs for a best-of collection, Unbreakable: A Retrospective 1990-2006, only to go their separate ways afterwards. In 2011, seemingly out of the blue, it was announced that the band would be headlining London's I'll Be Your Mirror festival in May 2012. The entire original lineup minus drummer Earle reconvened for it and a subsequent world tour in 2012 and 2013.
A album's worth of new material was, Due to the Beast, was released on Sub Pop in April 2014, although only Dulli and bassist Curley remained from the band's origins. The band subsequently embarked on a North American tour that included an acclaimed set at 2014's Coachella festival.