Blink-182 continued the unexpected 1990s journey of pop-punk into the mainstream. The trio emerged from Southern Californian skate-punk culture with a high-energy stage show heavy with slapstick and fart jokes. But like the slightly older Green Day, closer study revealed hook-filled rock songs obsessed with breakup and loneliness, even occasionally delving into such topics as teen suicide ("Adam's Song")
The band formed in the San Diego suburbs in 1991 when guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge — who'd first picked up a guitar as a teen at church camp — met bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus, who was in a garage-band in high school. Drummer Scott Raynor rounded out the trio, who originally called themselves Blink (they added the '182' when an Irish band with the same name threatened a lawsuit). With indie recordings and frequent performances at festivals and clubs, the band — whose early shows featured wet T-shirt and wet pants contests — slowly built a young, devoted following. Their fan base grew in the mid-1990s, when they toured with punk vets NOFX and Pennywise and appeared on the Vans Warped Tour.
The band attracted major label attention in 1997 with their fast-selling indie release Dude Ranch (Number 67), which went platinum on the strength of the modern-rock hit "Dammit (Growing Up)" (Number 11). Soon after, Raynor was fired from the band and replaced by Travis Barker, who had opened for Blink-182 as a member of Orange County pop-punk group the Aquabats. The band signed to MCA, which released their breakthrough album, Enema of the State (Number 9, 1999). The disc — the band's fourth — went triple platinum and spawned two hits, "All the Small Things" (Number Six pop) and "What's My Age Again" (Number Two on the Modern Rock Chart). Suddenly, Blink-182 was everywhere, from the radio to MTV to the teen comedy American Pie, in which the group made a cameo.
The band's next release was a live album, The Mark, Tom and Travis Show (Number Eight, 2000), which yielded one moderately successful single, "Man Overboard." A year later, the trio returned to its SoCal punk-rock roots with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. The LP took Blink-182 to the top of the album chart for the first time.
The band's 2003 self-titled LP reinforced their penchant for brooding, but also revealed stormy, more atmospheric music; even the Cure frontman Robert Smith appeared on the album. The album shot to Number Three on the pop chart and spawned four hit singles: "I Miss You," "Always," "Feeling This" and "Down." In February 2005, just when it seemed that Blink-182 couldn't get any bigger, they declared an immediate, indefinite hiatus in order to be closer with their growing families. (A Greatest Hits was released later that year.) Shortly after the band split, Hoppus and Barker formed their own group, +44, while DeLonge started alt-rock group Angels and Airwaves.
In September 19th, 2008, Barker was injured when a plane in which he was a passenger crashed outside of Columbia, South Carolina. Barker — who had performed the night before at an event with former Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, Gavin DeGraw and DJ AM — suffered second and third degree burns. Hoppus and DeLonge visited Barker in the hospital, and in February 2009, the band made their first live appearance since 2005 at the Grammy Awards — and announced they were reforming. They kicked off their reunion tour — with openers Fall Out Boy and Weezer — in July 2009, and have plans to start work on their sixth album in early 2010.
Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Nicole Frehsee contributed to this article.