Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

Doug Hopkins: Lost Horizons

Doug Hopkins: Lost Horizons

Two weeks after Doug Hopkins received a gold record for his song “Hey Jealousy,” the talented guitarist and principal songwriter for the Gin Blossoms took his own life.

In 1987, Doug Hopkins along with bassist Bill Leen formed the Gin Blossoms. Just three years later, while Hopkins’ battle with chronic depression and alcoholism escalated, the band signed with A&M Records.

Hopkins was wary of signing with a major label, and by 1992 when it was time to record their debut album, New Miserable Experience, his depression and drinking had completely engulfed his life, even affecting his ability to play the guitar. Rather than forfeiting their record contract, the band fired Hopkins and withheld $15,000 until he agreed to sign over half of his publishing royalties.

Hopkins expressed his disappointment with his former band members in a 1993 issue of Rolling Stone: “I understand why they fired me, but did they have to get so fucking cold and ruthless about it?”

In a 1994 issue of People magazine, lead singer Robin Wilson reflected: “Without Doug and his songwriting, we never could have signed a record deal.” He defended the band’s decision to terminate Hopkins: “Even Doug admitted we couldn’t have succeeded with him in the band. He also felt we had betrayed him.”

While New Miserable Experience had become a multi-platinum album and the band continued to flourish, while performing Doug Hopkins’ songs that included “Found Out About You,” “Lost Horizons,” and the aforementioned “Hey Jealousy,” the songwriter’s despondency intensified. He ran away from the detox center at Phoenix’s St. Luke’s Hospital, purchased a .38 caliber pistol and committed suicide on December 5, 1993.

The Gin Blossoms released two more records and then broke up, until regrouping in 2001. Although they released a new album in September 2010, No Chocolate Cake, the Gin Blossoms have never been able to duplicate the success of their debut album or rival Doug Hopkins’ gift for songwriting.

Hopkins’ somber lyrics, catchy guitar hooks, and memorable melodies are the foundation of the Gin Blossoms’ sound and have truly set him apart from other great songwriters of the ‘90s.