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Dram Theater

Dream Theater is an American progressive metal band formed in 1985 under the name Majesty by John Myung, John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy while they attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, before they dropped out to support the band. Though a number of lineup changes followed, the three original members remain today along with James LaBrie and Jordan Rudess.

Dream Theater has become a successful progressive metal band. Although the band has had a few successful hits (notably "Pull Me Under" in the early 1990s, which received extensive MTV rotation), they have mostly stayed underground for their career.

The band is well known for the technical proficiency of its instrumentalists, who have won many awards from music instruction magazines. Dream Theater's members have collaborated with many other notable musicians. Guitarist John Petrucci has been named as the third player on the G3 tour six times, more than any other invited guitarist, following in the footsteps of Eric Johnson and Robert Fripp.

The band's highest selling album is the gold selling Images and Words (1992), which reached #61 on the Billboard 200 charts.[1] Both the 1994 release Awake and their 2002 release Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence also entered the charts at #32 and #46 respectively and received mostly positive reviews. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence also led to Dream Theater becoming the initial band reviewed in the Music Section of Entertainment Weekly during its opening week of release, despite the magazine generally preferring more mainstream music. In 2007, Systematic Chaos entered US Billboard 200 at #19.[1] Dream Theater has sold over two million albums in the U.S.,[2] and over 8 million records worldwide.[3] The band's tenth studio album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, was released on June 23, 2009. It entered the US Billboard 200 at #6 marking their highest entry.

Formation and early years (1985–1987)

Dream Theater was formed in September 1985 when guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung decided to form a band in their spare time while studying at the Berklee College of Music. The pair came across drummer Mike Portnoy in one of Berklee's rehearsal rooms, where he was asked to join the band. The trio started off by covering Rush and Iron Maiden songs in the rehearsal rooms at Berklee.

Myung, Petrucci, and Portnoy settled on the name Majesty for their newly formed group. According to the The Score So Far… documentary, they were waiting in line for tickets to a Rush concert at the Berklee Performance Center while listening to the band on a boom box. Portnoy commented that the ending of the song "Bastille Day" (from the album Caress of Steel) sounded "majestic." It was then decided that Majesty would be the band's name.[4]

The trio then set out to fill the remaining positions in the group. Petrucci asked his high school band-mate Kevin Moore to play keyboards. After accepting the position, another friend from home, Chris Collins, was recruited as lead vocalist after band members heard him sing a cover of "Queen of the Reich" by Queensr├┐che[5] During this time, Portnoy, Petrucci and Myung's hectic schedules forced them to abandon their studies to concentrate on their music, as they did not feel they could learn more in college. Moore also left his college, SUNY Fredonia, to concentrate on the band.
The beginning months of 1986 were filled with various concert dates in and around the New York City area. During this time, the band recorded a collection of demos, titled The Majesty Demos. The initial run of 1,000 sold out within six months, and dubbed copies of the cassette became popular within the progressive metal scene. The Majesty Demos are still available in their original tape format today, despite being released officially on CD through Mike Portnoy's YtseJam Records.

In November 1986, after a few months of writing and performing together, Chris Collins left the band due to creative differences. After a year of trying to find a replacement, Charlie Dominici, who was far older and more experienced than anyone else in the band, successfully auditioned for the group. With the stability that Dominici's appointment brought to Majesty, they began to increase the number of shows played in the New York City area, gaining a considerable amount of exposure.

Shortly after hiring Dominici, a Las Vegas group also named Majesty[6] threatened legal action for intellectual property infringement related to the use of their name, so the band was forced to adopt a new moniker. Various possibilities were proposed and tested, among them Glasser, Magus, and M1, which were all rejected [7] until Portnoy's father suggested the name Dream Theater, the name of a movie house in Monterey, California.

When Dream and Day Unite (1988–1990)

With this stability, Dream Theater concentrated on writing more material while playing more concerts in New York and in neighboring states. This eventually attracted the attention of Mechanic Records, a division of MCA. Dream Theater signed their first record contract with Mechanic on June 23, 1988[7] and set out to record their debut album. The band recorded the album at Kajem Victory Studios in Gladwyne, PA. Recording the basic tracks took about 10 days, and the entire album was completed in about 3 weeks[8].

When Dream and Day Unite was released in 1989 to far less fanfare than the band had anticipated. Mechanic ended up breaking the majority of the financial promises they had made to Dream Theater prior to signing their contract, so the band was restricted to playing around New York City. The promotional tour for the album consisted of just five concerts, all of which were relatively local. Their first show was at Sundance in Bay Shore, New York opening for the classic rock power trio Zebra.[9]

After the fourth show, Dominici was fired because of personal and creative differences. Shortly after, however, the band Marillion asked Dream Theater to open for them at a gig at the Ritz in New York, so Dominici was given the opportunity to perform one last time.[9] It would be another two years before Dream Theater had a replacement vocalist.

[edit] Images and Words and Awake (1991–1994)

Following Dominici's firing, Dream Theater fought successfully to be released from their contract with Mechanic, and set about auditioning singers and writing material for their next album. In their search for a new singer they auditioned over 200 people, among them former Fates Warning front man John Arch; all were turned down. In mid-1990, at a gig in New York, Dream Theater introduced Steve Stone as their new singer. He performed just three songs with the band before he was fired for performing less than adequately.[10] It was five months before Dream Theater played another show, this time all-instrumental (under the name YtseJam). Until mid-1991 the band remained focused in an attempt to hire another singer and writing additional music.[9] It was during this period that they wrote the majority of what would become the 1992's Images and Words.

In late 1991, Kevin James LaBrie, of glam metal band Winter Rose, was flown from Canada to New York for an audition. LaBrie jammed on three songs with the band, and was immediately hired to fill the vocalist position. Once recruited, LaBrie decided to drop his first name to avoid confusion with the other Kevin in the band. For the next few months, the band returned to playing live shows (still mostly around NYC), while working on vocal parts for the music written before acquiring LaBrie. Derek Shulman and ATCO Records (now EastWest), a division of Elektra Records, signed Dream Theater to a seven album contract based on a three song demo (later made available as "The ATCO Demos" through the Dream Theater fan club).

The first album to be recorded under their new record contract was 1992's Images and Words. For promotion, the label released a CD Single and video clip for the song "Another Day," but neither made significant commercial impact. The song "Pull Me Under," however, managed to garner a high level of radio airplay without any organized promotion from the band or their label. In response, ATCO produced a video clip for "Pull Me Under," which saw heavy rotation on MTV. A third video clip was produced for "Take the Time," but it was not nearly as successful as "Pull Me Under."

The success of "Pull Me Under," combined with relentless touring throughout the U.S. and Japan, caused Images and Words to achieve gold record certification in the States and platinum status in Japan. A tour of Europe followed in 1993, which included a show at London's famed Marquee Club. The show was recorded and released as Live at the Marquee, Dream Theater's first official live album. Additionally, a video compilation of their Japanese concerts (mixed in with documentary-style footage of the off-stage portion of the tour) was released as Images and Words: Live in Tokyo.

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