Maroon 5 began as a late-Nineties L.A. grunge outfit called Kara’s Flowers, featuring guitarist-singer Adam Levine, keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, bassist Mickey Maddin and drummer Ryan Dusick, who were signed to Reprise while still in high school. They issued one poor-selling album and broke up for college. Soon, though, they reunited, this time calling themselves Maroon 5 and adopting a poppier, more R&B-inflected sound, and adding guitarist James Valentine. In 2002 they issued their debut, Songs About Jane, a slow-building success (it went to Number 6 two years after its issue) thanks to the single “Harder to Breathe” (Number 18, 2003). More singles followed, including “This Love” (Number 5, 2004), “She Will Be Loved” (Number 5, 2004) and “Sunday Morning” (Number 31, 2005).
The group began touring constantly, resulting in a pair of live discs — 1.22.03 Acoustic (2004) and Live — Friday the 13th (2005) — a CD-DVD combo package capturing a Santa Barbara show from May 2005 and the loss of drummer Dusick, who injured his shoulder and wrist during the grueling grind. He was replaced by Matt Flynn, who played on the band’s studio follow-up, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (Number One, 2007). One of the major pop-rock sellers of its release year, It Won’t Be Soon moved nearly a half-million copies its opening week thanks largely to the infectious pop-funk lead single “Makes Me Wonder” (Number One, 2007). Further hits came with “Wake Up Call” (Number 19, 2007) and “Won’t Go Home Without You,” which hit Number 21 on Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.
Levine’s soul-influenced vocal style has also earned him props from hip-hop and R&B artists and listeners, and gained him guest spots on Kanye West’s “Heard ‘Em Say” from Late Registration (2005), and on Alicia Keys’ cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” from her Unplugged (2005). The group has won three Grammy Awards, including a 2005 nod for Best New Artist, a two trophies for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals — one from 2006 for “This Love,” and one from 2008 for “Makes Me Wonder.”