1995-1997: The return of Tommy O'Brien, Ralph tours Europe with the Moondogs, 1996 European tour

As 1995 ended and 1996 began, Terry was replaced by John Richardson (Tommy Keene, Shoes, Badfinger). John Zdon, stepped up to replace Steve, and was then replaced by Tommy O'Brien, who returned to the job of lead guitar he had vacated four years earlier. As Ralph and Pickles told him the night of his first gig back, "You sound just like the guy on the album!" Steve Wozny, who had been Tommy's room-mate back in the Bad Is Beautiful days joined the band on keyboards. The band continued to play in the clubs.

Kisses 50 Cents and Eat At Godot's were released in Europe, and Ralph had a number of solo acoustic tours in Holland and England. He met up with a Dutch band called The Moondogs who made melodic pop-rock similar to The Bad Examples, and was hired by them to front the band on a Dutch tour. Ralph did some co-writing with them, and recorded some demos while he was in Holland in May of 1996.

In 1997 one of these songs, "Rikki Doesn't Worry," co-written with Moondog Rik Vrijman, won De Grote Prijs De Nederlands (a Dutch music award) for best lyrics.

In July of 1996, Popscape, a best of compilation, was released in the US. In October, the band headed over to Europe for a tour of Holland, France, and England. It was a disaster. The Dutch promoter was a crook and a liar, and within a week the tour had burst apart at the seams. Most of the band returned to Chicago, but Ralph and Pickles pushed on, salvaging what was left of the tour as an acoustic duo.

Click on any chapter heading below for a chronological history!

The early days & the MEAT album
The making of Bad Is Beautiful; AEMMP Records signs the band
Bad Is Beautiful released, Europe, West Coast touring
CNR ends, Eat At Godot's
Landmark falls, enter Steve Gerlach, the Kisses 50 Cents band, the origins of Birthday
The return of Tom O'Brien, Ralph tours Europe with the Moondogs, 1996 European tour
Rob Newhouse, Ron Barnes join the band; Sawdust and Spangles, Birthday come to life
The 5000 Days Studio sessions, The Last Show
Stages, Kids, and a Smash Record!