Rob Thomas' Unusual Journey: Unapologetic Pop Star Opens Up

July 22, 2009 5:04 PM ET

There are lots of things you likely don't know about Matchbox Twenty and solo singer Rob Thomas — that he survived a violent redneck childhood, that his weed-dealer grandmother hired a serial killer to off an ex-boyfriend, that he thinks Third Eyed Blind's Stephan Jenkins is "really just a cock." As Thomas releases new solo LP Cradlesong, Erik Hedegaard gets one music's bona fide pop stars to peel back his mellow nice-guy exterior and go beyond "being one-dimensional," as Thomas puts it, in a revealing profile in the new issue of Rolling Stone.

Grab the issue for the full story, and take a look back how far Thomas has come — his career, in photos:
Rob Thomas' Journey: From Matchbox Twenty Frontman to Chart-Topping Solo Artist

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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