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Little Rock, Arkansas' EVANESCENCE ('dissipation of vapour') made huge inroads into the Billboard album charts with their dramatic debut Dave Fortman produced 'Fallen' opus. The idea for the band germinated when founder members vocalist Amy Lee and guitarist BEN MOODY met by chance at a church youth camp, the singer catching Moody's attention with a rendition of MEAT LOAF's 'I Would Do Anything For Love'. The fledgling band immediately scored local radio play with the tracks 'Give Unto Me' and 'Understanding' courtesy of KABF. EVANESCENCE debuted live in December 1998 at Vino's Bar in Little Rock, a promotion night for an EP 'Evanescence', which rapidly sold out of its 100 CDR pressings. Interestingly, the cover photograph, the sculpture 'Angel of Grief' by William Wetmore Story, was also used on NIGHTWISH's hugely successful 2004 'Once' album. Featured musicians on this recording included THE VISITORS bass player Will Boyd along with drummer Rocky Gray and Matt Outlaw. A second EP, 'The Whisper', gained further ground for the band despite being restricted to just 50 copies.

EVANESCENCE would be rounded out by erstwhile MINDRAGE, SOUL EMBRACED and KILL SYSTEM guitarist John Lecompt and drummer Rocky Gray, the latter citing credits with SHREDDED CORPSE, featuring on the 1996 EP 'Exhumed And Molested', and Christian Death Metal bands KILL SYSTEM, LIVING SACRIFICE and SOUL EMBRACED. Dave Hodges joined the band on keyboards. Will Boyd also performed live with the band. BigWig Enterprises, a concern which had aided the band on earlier EP releases, put out the group's eponymous debut album in 2000. 'Evanescence' was launched with a gig at Little Rock's River Market Pavillion packaged alongside LIVING SACRIFICE early that November.

EVANESCENCE struck huge with the 'Fallen' album, co-written by keyboard player David Hodges, who quite the band just as the record was completed. Fuelled by massive TV programming for an impressive and disturbing dream state video for the single 'Bring Me To Life', given an added boost with its inclusion on the hit 'Daredevil' movie soundtrack, the 'Fallen' album, produced by ex-UGLY KID JOE member Dave Fortman, crashed into the charts at no. 7. The single confused many initially as it features a duet between Amy Lee and Paul McCoy of 12 STONE. The album, which blended Gothic overtones with dirge filled Nu-Metal and melancholy acoustic and even choral pieces, had bass in the hands of Francis Decosmo whilst drums were handled by Josh Freese of A PERFECT CIRCLE and the VANDALS. As well as re-recording archive tracks 'Whisper', 'My Immortal' and 'Imaginary' the album song 'Tourniquet' is in actuality a cover of 'My Tourniquet' originally performed by SOUL EMBRACED.

The band became embroiled in controversy in April of 2003 when interviews, apparently seeing both Lee and Moody renouncing any Christian beliefs, resulted in their label Wind Up withdrawing copies of 'Fallen' from Christian record stores. This setback would bear little impact upon European sales though as the album rapidly made headway on all the major charts. In three weeks 'Fallen' sold over 100,000 copies in the UK bringing in a gold sales status award and soon topping the charts. The band debuted live in the UK on June 19th, performing at the London Astoria.

Although European dates would be curtailed due to illness EVANESCENCE soon got back into gear, announcing August US headline shows as part of an adventurous new concept blending Rock n' Roll with computer games. The 'Nintendo Fusion' tour allied the band with COLD, REVIS, CAUTERIZE and FINGER ELEVEN.

The band returned to the UK in October for shows supported by APARTMENT 26. However, in a shock move founder member BEN MOODY walked out midway through German dates, flying home to the USA without apparently consulting his band mates. The band, by now having racked up over six million worldwide sales of 'Fallen', three million of which were generated from the USA, pulled in COLD guitarist Terry Balsamo for a performance at the American Music Awards ceremony. The band were then scheduled to get their teeth into further North American gigs into December, finding SEETHER, FINGER ELEVEN and GODHEAD all lending support. However, these shows were cancelled. Nevertheless, the year closed out on a high as, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the entertainment industry's data information system that tracks point of sale purchases of recorded music product, 'Fallen' landed the honours of fourth highest selling album in the USA during 2003.

Intriguingly, 2004 opened with talks taking place between Amy Lee and former LIMP BIZKIT guitarist Wes Borland for possible songwriting collaborations. Borland subsequently denied any such claims. Ousted member BEN MOODY would be in the news in regard to songwriting too, the guitarist collaborating with both GODHEAD, teen star AVRIL LAVIGNE and even 'American Idol' winner Kelly Clarkson on tracks for her second album. This burst of activity would also include a collusion with GODHEAD singer Jason Miller, DROWNING POOL frontman Jason Jones, PRONG and TOMMY LEE bassist Marty O'Brien and LIVING SACRIFICE drummer Lance Garvin on the track 'The End Has Come', slated for the soundtrack to the comic book movie 'The Punisher'.

Terry Balsamo's position the band would also be confirmed as a permanent fixture in mid January. EVANESCENCE won a prestigious Grammy Award in the "Hard Rock Performance" category at the 46th annual show held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. in February, beating out the other nominees AUDIOSLAVE, GODSMACK, JANE'S ADDICTION and QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. The band also scooped the "Best new artist" honours. Surprisingly both Amy Lee and ex-EVANESCENCE guitarist Ben Moody made a joint appearance to accept the awards on live television. As evidence of their staying power at the time of these honours the 'Fallen' album was still firmly lodged in the US top 5.

In May of 2004 'Fallen' was certified quintuple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association Of America for sales of five million copies. Internationally the album, which had remained lodged in many charts for over a year, had sold over 11 million copies. Total sales in Japan alone neared the half a million mark. A renewed round of US touring in the Summer saw EVANESCENCE supported by SEETHER, THREE DAYS GRACE and BREAKING BENJAMIN. Notably, the band performed a piano based cover version of KORN's 'Thoughtless' as part of their set.

Whilst EVANESCENCE set to work on a new studio album a DVD package entitled 'Anywhere But Home' was launched in November to plug the gap. The CD / DVD set comprised four promotional videos plus a live concert recorded on 25th May 2004 at the Zenith in Paris.

By mid November, with US sales of 'Fallen' standing at 5,897,485 copies, the album was still selling in excess of ten thousand copies a week domestically. On 8th December EVANESCENCE, complete with an eight piece string section, performed 'My Immortal' at the annual Billboard Music Awards held at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena. Meantime, it would be learned that the ex-EVANESCENCE pairing of guitarist BEN MOODY and keyboard player Dave Hodges had contributed both songwriting and performing to 'American Idol' star KELLY CLARKSON's latest album.

In February 2005 EVANESCENCE drummer Rocky Gray announced the formation of a new "super heavy" Metal project called THE BURNING. Upfront of new 2006 album 'The Open Door' bassist William Boyd exited in mid July. Former REVOLUTION SMILE guitarist Tim McCord filled the vacancy. Keen purchasers of the first single, 'Call Me When You're Sober', through the iTunes store received an exclusive pre-order track 'The Last Song I'm Wasting On You'.

'The Open Door' sold over 447,000 copies in its first week of US sales to debut at number one. Impressively, the album sold a further 160,000 copies in its second week. The album's second single, 'Lithium', was backed by a promotional video directed by Paul Fedor and by mid November 'The Open Door" has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments in excess of one million copies. On December 9th Amy Lee joined KORN for an acoustic set for MTV's 'Unplugged' at the MTV studios in Times Square, New York, featuring on the song 'Freak On A Leash'. Despite the escalating success of EVANESCENCE Rocky Gray resurrected his side project band SOUL EMBRACED during late 2006. The reformed band featured two new members, Jack Wiese on guitar and Jeff Bowie on bass.

EVANESCENCE and STONE SOUR teamed up for the following Canadian dates in early January 2007. Japanese concerts were scheduled for January and February. Upon completion of Australian, New Zealand and South American concerts EVANESCENCE partnered up with CHEVELLE and FINGER ELEVEN for a second round of US dates throughout March. The group forged a union with KORN, LAMB OF GOD, and AIDEN for the 'Family Values' tour.

In 2008 Amy Lee contributed a version of 'Sally's Song' to the 'Nightmare Revisited' album, a collection of reworked songs from the soundtrack to Tim Burton's 1993 movie 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'.

In June 2009 it was learned that four founding members of EVANESCENCE, guitarists Ben Moody and John LeCompt and drummer Rocky Gray, had joined forces with high profile 'American Idol' contestant Carly Smithson and former METHODS OF MAYHEM bassist Marty O'Brien to form a new band called THE FALLEN. The new group's name alluded to EVANESCENCE's 2003 major label debut album, 'Fallen', which by 2009 had sold over seven million copies in the USA. Smithson had previously sang EVANESCENCE's 'Bring Me to Life' during the 2008 'Idols Live' US tour.

In swift response to THE FALLEN announcement, Amy Lee issued a media response the following day stating "As our fans already know, Ben Moody left EVANESCENCE in 2003. EVANESCENCE came out with a follow-up to 'Fallen' in 2006. It was called 'The Open Door' and it debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts and reached platinum status in just over a month. 'The Open Door' has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. Look out for new music next year..."

Garry Sharpe-Young 

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