Placebo biography


Placebo Biography

Placebo is a rock band founded in 1994. They enjoyed early success in Britain thanks to the high interest in British rock music at the time, sparked in particular by Oasis and Blur.


Band History

Placebo was founded when former Luxembourg schoolmates Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal met by accident at South Kensington tube station in 1994 and decided to form a band. While briefly known as Ashtray Heart, the band quickly settled on the name Placebo. The band could not decide on a drummer at first with Steve Hewitt and Robert Schultzberg alternating on the spot. While Hewitt was the preferred choice, he also had other commitments as drummer for London band 'Breed', leading to Schultzberg being the drummer when the band signed its contract with Caroline Records. As the other band members were having difficulty getting on with Robert Schultzberg, they persuaded Hewitt to rejoin the band in 1997.

The singles Nancy Boy, from Placebo (1995), and Pure Morning, from Without You I'm Nothing (1998), were the peak of their British success, both charting in the top ten. Since Without You I'm Nothing the band have fallen out of fashion particularly with the British music press, who regularly mock the personality and pretensions of its lead member, Brian Molko. However, the band retained a huge popular and critical following in continental Europe. Their style altered little from Placebo through Black Market Music (2000), based around fairly straightforward guitar playing, often influenced by the style of 1970s British and American rock, and Molko's high-pitched, nasal vocals.

The band was asked to play at David Bowie's fiftieth birthday party at Madison Square Garden. The band's glam connections continued in 1998 when it recorded a version of '20th Century Boy' by T. Rex for the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack.

Sleeping With Ghosts (2003) was more adventurous, experimenting with dance influences and a less polished guitar sound, though keeping the traditional sound for several songs, including the first single The Bitter End. The band gained some measure of notoriety for the sexualities of its members (Molko is bisexual, Olsdal is gay, and Hewitt is straight) and their excessive lifestyles, often chronicled in their songs (the title of the track Special K from Black Market Music, for instance, is a reference to the drug ketamine).


As of 2004, the band consisted of

Brian Molko 
Vocals and guitar
Stefan Olsdal 
Bass guitar
Steven Hewitt 

Robert Schultzberg was also a member of the band between 1994 and 1997.


Chart positions are for the UK, they did not chart in the US.


Chart positions are for the UK, they did not chart in the US.


External links

This biography is published under the GNU Licence

Items to buy by Placebo

© 2000-2019