2024 Hall of Fame Inductees

Garbage

Remix work at a Madison music studio served as the inspiration for a band that would become an international success and sell more than 17 million records.

Garbage began to take form in 1993 at Madison’s Smart Studios, where Duke Erikson, Steve Marker, and Butch Vig were working on remixes for several major acts.  The projects inspired them to form a band. Erikson and Vig had a history of performing together, having previously worked together in Spooner and Fire Town. For their new project, they felt they needed a strong female voice up front and brought in Scottish singer Shirley Manson. After more than 30 years, their original lineup remains intact.

Their debut self-titled album, “Garbage,” released in 1995, propelled them to international fame with hits like “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl.” The album showcased their unique blend of rock, electronic, and pop elements, which would become their signature sound.

Throughout their career, Garbage has consistently delivered innovative and genre-defying music, exploring themes of love, identity, and societal issues. Their albums, including “Version 2.0”, “Beautiful Garbage”, “Bleed Like Me”, “Not Your Kind of People” and “Strange Little Birds” have earned critical acclaim and commercial success.

In 1999, they performed and co-produced the theme song to the 19th James Bond film, “The World Is Not Enough.”

Garbage has been praised as trailblazing with a unique style that remains fresh and relevant. They continue to record and perform, with a summer tour of Europe scheduled for the summer of 2024. Their induction into the WAMI Hall of Fame marks the second such honor for Vig, who was inducted as an individual in 2009.

 

Todd “Speech” Thomas

Todd Thomas channeled his black experiences in Milwaukee and its suburbs into music that had a major impact across the country and around the world.

Better known by his stage name, Speech, Thomas is a Milwaukee native and a founder of the influential and pioneering hip hop group, Arrested Development. Eschewing the violence and stereotypes that were prevalent in hip hop at the time, they focused on more positive messaging. It took hold in the 1990s and their debut album, “3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of…” was a four-time platinum seller. In 1993, Arrested Development won the Grammy for best new artist.

That year, they also won the Grammy for best group rap performance for their single, “Tennessee.” Written by Speech, the song chronicles the experience of losing his grandmother and brother just a week apart. Its lasting impact was demonstrated by its placement on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”

Beyond music, he’s made an impact through philanthropy. In the early 1990s, Speech and his mother started the Terrence Thomas Scholarship in honor of his late brother. It has since raised more than a million dollars to help young black students further their education.

Today, Speech continues to hold an influential voice.

Arrested Development broke up in 1996, but reunited in 2000, and they continue to perform. In addition to his work with Arrested Development, Speech recorded eight solo albums, including “1998 Hoopla” and “Spiritual People”, which were certified gold.

He’s a sought-after speaker, and in 2005, he became an ordained minister with the Churches of Christ.

2018 saw the release of the full-length documentary, “16 Bars”, in which Speech goes into a maximum security jail to write music with inmates.

 

The Fendermen

The Fendermen didn’t have a long career, but it was certainly a storied run.

In just a few short years, the Madison-area rockabilly duo managed to climb the Billboard Hot 100 and tour the country with American music royalty.

Composed of guitarists Jim Sundquist of Niagara and Stoughton’s Phil Humphrey, their name was inspired by the instruments  – a Telecaster and Stratocaster – that provided their distinctive sound. They met at the University of Wisconsin in the late 1950s.

Their lone hit single, “Mule Skinner Blues”, was first recorded by Jimmie Rodgers in 1930 and has been heavily covered ever since. But no one before or after has had a more popular version than The Fendermen, who sold more than a million copies. Recorded in the basement of Middleton Music, they released the song in 1960 on Cuca Records, and it was picked up for national distribution by Soma Records. It went on to hit no. 5 on the Hot 100, no. 32 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 2 in Canada.

Their big hit brought more opportunities. The Fendermen brought on bassist Denny Dale and drummer Johnny Hauer before hitting the road. Their gigs included opening slots for Johnny Cash and Kitty Wells. They appeared on both the Grand Ole Opry and American Bandstand.

Unfortunately, the Fendermen couldn’t catch lightning in a bottle for a second time. Without a follow-up hit and amid legal disputes with their record company, they broke up in 1961. They enter the WAMI Hall of Fame having made an impact that was far greater than their tenure.