Adam Levine was introduced to Ryan Dusick by a mutual friend and aspiring guitar player, Adam Salzman. Levine was seven years old and Dusick was nine.
The four original members of Maroon 5 met while attending Brentwood School in Los Angeles. While attending Brentwood School, Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael joined up with Mickey Madden and Ryan Dusick to form Kara's Flowers, a pop band. The name was taken from a groupie that the band had a "collective crush" on. The band played its first gig at Whisky a Go Go on September 16, 1995. While they were playing a beach party in Malibu, indie producer Tommy Allen heard them play and offered to manage them and record a complete record with his partner, songwriter John De Nicola (Dirty Dancing). While shopping for a deal for the band, Rob Cavallo's management team heard the record Allen and DeNicola produced, which eventually led to their deal with Reprise Records and producer Rob Cavallo. Very early on, their sound was what Carmichael called "Fugazi [the sound] meets Sesame Street [the lyrics]". However, by the release of The Fourth World in 1997, they had morphed into band with a style reminiscent of 1960s Britpop. Despite high expectations from the band and record company, the album failed to catch on and their lead single, "Soap Disco", was a failure. According to Levine, the failure of the album was "a huge disappointment" that nearly led them to break up in 1998. The album sold around 5,000 copies and they were dropped after only one month.
When they returned in 2000, they brought those influences with them. Sam Farrar (bassist of the band Phantom Planet and since 2012 a touring member of Maroon 5) says that the Aaliyah song "Are You That Somebody?" affected the band and influenced the song "Not Coming Home." Producer Tim Sommer signed them to a demo deal with MCA records and produced three tracks with them in Los Angeles in the middle of 2000 with Mark Dearnley engineering. Against Sommer's advice, MCA declined to pick up the band, and these tracks were never released. Jordan Feldstein, a friend of Levine's family and a junior agent at ICM, stopped by one of the band's rehearsals and was so surprised by what he heard that he quit his job in order to manage the band full-time. The band put together a demo that was rejected by several labels, before falling into the hands of Octone Records executives James Diener, Ben Berkman and David Boxenbaum. While looking for talent for the new Octone label, Berkman was given a bunch of demos by the brother of a former colleague at Columbia Records and the song that caught his attention was "a genius song called 'Sunday Morning'". Berkman was surprised the song was credited to Kara's Flowers because they sounded completely different from the band he had heard while at Warner Brothers.
Berkman encouraged Diener and Boxenbaum to fly out to Los Angeles to watch a showcase gig at The Viper Room for the four-piece Kara's Flowers. After watching Levine onstage, they were convinced. Berkman told HitQuarters he believed what the band needed was a "fifth member to play the guitar and free up the singer, so he could be the star I perceived him to be." Octone immediately insisted that the band change its name to break with its pop past. Also, the label began looking for a full-time guitarist to enable Levine to focus on performing as the frontman. James Valentine (from the L.A. band Square) was recruited for the job. On his joining the band, Valentine commented: "I became friends with them and we sort of started jamming together, it was very much like I was cheating on my band, we were having sort of an affair and I eventually quit my other band to join up with them." Even still, the only songs of their repertoire that showcased the band's new direction were "Sunday Morning" and the soon-to-be-written "She Will Be Loved"—neither of which the label approved of as a first single. The band toured for a full year before entering the studio with producer Matt Wallace. Levine's frustration with Berkman's demands for a lead single inspired him to write just that—a song called "Harder to Breathe".
"Between the time that we started making the album [Songs About Jane] in 2001 and the time the album reached the crest of its success in 2004, we went from being starving musicians wondering what the future held to riding a wave of success beyond our wildest expectations."
—Ryan Dusick, Maroon 5's original drummer, who officially left the band in 2006 due to injuries sustained from constant touring
Maroon 5 in concert in 2004
James Valentine attended Berklee College of Music with John Mayer in 1996, where they developed a rapport. In 2002, the two reconnected at a Mayer radio appearance. After Mayer heard their album, he was so impressed (particularly by "This Love", which became the most successful release off the album and propelled the band to superstardom) that he invited them to open for him during his early 2003 tour. The first single "Harder to Breathe" slowly started to pick up airplay which helped spur sales of the album. By March 2004, Songs About Jane had reached the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 and "Harder to Breathe" had made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts. The album peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 in September 2004, 26 months after its release; this was the longest period between an album's release and its initial Top 10 appearance since SoundScan results were included in the Billboard 200 in 1991. Mayer invited the band to open for him again in 2004. Over the next three years, the band toured virtually non-stop, including visits to seventeen countries. During this time, the band toured with Michelle Branch, Nikka Costa, Vanessa Carlton, Graham Colton, and The Rolling Stones. Others they have toured alongside include Cowboy Mouth, Gavin DeGraw, Matchbox Twenty, Sugar Ray, Counting Crows, Phantom Planet, The Hives, Dashboard Confessional, Big City Rock, The Like, Simon Dawes, Jason Mraz, The Thrills, Thirsty Merc, Marc Broussard, The Donnas, The RedWest, Michael Tolcher and Guster.
Songs About Jane eventually reached No. 2 on the Australian albums charts, while "Harder to Breathe" made the Top 20 singles charts in the US and UK, and Top 40 in Australia and New Zealand. The album also eventually climbed to No. 1 in the UK. The second single, "This Love", reached No. 5 in the US, No. 3 in the UK, and No. 8 in Australia. The third single, "She Will Be Loved," reached the Top 5 in both the US and the UK, and went to No. 1 in Australia. The fourth single, "Sunday Morning," reached the Top 40 in the US, UK, and Australia. Maroon 5 also played Live 8, in Philadelphia in 2005. Their set included a cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World" and frontman Levine performed with one of his heroes, and the closing act, Stevie Wonder. On May 13, 2005, in Santa Barbara, California, the band wrapped up the Honda Civic Tour, which they headlined. On June 9, 2005, the band performed at the American Film Institute's tribute to filmmaker George Lucas. Lucas himself had selected Maroon 5 for the event, as they were his children's favorite band at the time. Over the years of touring with the band their drummer, percussionist and backing vocalist Ryan Dusick had been suffering from the touring life. The strains of non-stop touring aggravated an old sports injury. After several absences from the tour with Ryland Steen (drummer of James Valentine's former band, Square - Ryland is currently a member of the California-USA-based ska punk band, Reel Big Fish) and Josh Day taking his place, Dusick officially left Maroon 5 in September 2006. Matt Flynn, the former drummer of Gavin DeGraw and The B-52's, joined the band as Dusick's replacement.
Maroon 5 in Madison Square in 2007
After recording for most of 2006, Maroon 5's second album, It Won't Be Soon Before Long, was released worldwide in May 2007 by A&M/Octone Records. According to Levine, the follow-up to Songs About Jane is "sexier and stronger", gaining inspiration from iconic 80s artists such as Prince, Shabba Ranks, Michael Jackson and Talking Heads. Before its release, "Makes Me Wonder" was the No. 1 selling single and video on iTunes. It was also the No. 1 selling album, with more than 50,000 digital pre-sales. After its release, the album broke iTunes sales records its week of release, selling over 101,000 albums. The first single, "Makes Me Wonder," was released to radio March 27, 2007. The making of the music video was previewed on MTV's Total Request Live, and premiered on the show March 29. The song debuted at number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100, the lowest debuting single of the group's five chart entries. In the first week of May, the single skyrocketed from a lowly position of No. 64 to No. 1, the biggest jump in Billboard history at the time. "Makes Me Wonder" has also achieved No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs, Pop 100, and Hot Dance Club Play charts.
To support the album, the band performed on a "six-date club tour" in which they visited small venues in Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Miami, and New York City in early June 2007. They followed with a concert that streamed live via MSN Music in mid-June. On July 10, they opened for The Police, in Miami, and followed with an acoustic performance at the Miami club, Studio A, the next day. Their 2007 It Won't Be Soon Before Long world tour began September 29 in Detroit and concluded November 10 in Las Vegas. The Hives, as the tour's special guest, performed on all of the dates while Sara Bareilles, Kevin Michael, and Phantom Planet each performed in a portion of the tour. They toured with Dashboard Confessional in their world tour and on March 28, 2008, they began touring with OneRepublic, Brandi Carlile and Ry Cuming. They have also performed "Makes Me Wonder" on season 6 and "If I Never See Your Face Again" on season 7 of American Idol. The re-release of the album featured a new duet version of "If I Never See Your Face Again" with Rihanna; the new version of the song also appeared on the re-release of Rihanna's album Good Girl Gone Bad. They also released as the album's fifth single "Goodnight Goodnight", which appeared in the opening of CSI: NY episode "Page Turner".
Levine has stated that he believes the band is reaching its peak and may make one more album before disbanding. He explained: "Eventually I want to focus on being a completely different person because I don’t know if I want to do this into my 40s and 50s and beyond, like the Rolling Stones." Maroon 5's third studio album was recorded in 2009 in Switzerland, where the band were joined by record producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange. The album, titled Hands All Over, was released on September 21, 2010. The album's first single, "Misery", was released on June 22, 2010. Maroon 5 toured with Train for the summer of 2011, from July 22 to September 24. Christina Aguilera is featured on Maroon 5's single "Moves like Jagger". It premiered live of The Voice on June 21, 2011 and reached the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in September 2011. Adam Levine was also featured in Gym Class Heroes' song "Stereo Hearts", which peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. On September 8, 2011, Jesse stated that the band is likely to begin recording their next album within the year. On October 1, the band performed live at the Rock in Rio concert in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Maroon 5 was a last hour addition, chosen to fill the vacant spot left by Jay-Z after he cancelled his appearance for personal reasons believed to be a diary clash, but rumored to be a performance in a poll for bands the audiences wanted to see in the festival. The band launched a Snapple flavor named "Tea Will Be Loved" in support of Feeding America.
Maroon 5 performed "Moves Like Jagger" and "Stereo Hearts" with Travie McCoy on November 5, 2011 on Saturday Night Live. They also performed "Moves Like Jagger" and "Stereo Hearts" with Christina Aguilera and Gym Class Heroes on November 20, 2011 on the American Music Awards, where they won their first AMA for Favorite Pop Band/Duo/Group. The band also performed "Moves Like Jagger" at the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. During a promotion by Coca-Cola in the March of 2011, the band participated in a 24–hour session during which, with the help of musician (keyboardist and background vocalist) PJ Morton, they had 24 hours to write a completely original song. After their time was up, the song "Is Anybody Out There" was released on the Coca-Cola website for free download. Morton, who has played with the band in concerts and other live performances since 2010, is now temporarily replacing Jesse Carmichael, who has currently taken a longer break from performing with the band that was officially confirmed by the group in March 2012. In 2012, the band recorded a song for The Hunger Games soundtrack, called "Come Away to the Water" featuring Rozzi Crane. At the 54th Grammy Awards, on February 12, 2012, the group performed alongside Foster the People and The Beach Boys in a medley of Beach Boys songs to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Maroon 5 in Chile, 2012
On March 8, 2012, it was announced that Jesse Carmichael would take a break from playing in the band for an undetermined amount of time to focus more on his studies of "music and the healing arts" (spiritual healing). The band continued to work on their fourth studio album with the help of their touring member, PJ Morton. Maroon 5 announced on March 26, 2012 – through their official website and a Rolling Stone article – that their fourth album, titled Overexposed, will be released on June 26, 2012. Levine stated the album is their "most diverse and poppiest album yet." On April 16, 2012, Maroon 5 premiered their new song, "Payphone", as the first single from Overexposed on the hit television show, The Voice, in which Levine is one of the judges and coaches. The song debuted at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and features rapper Wiz Khalifa. The second single, "One More Night", was released on June 19, 2012. It soon topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, beating out Psy's "Gangnam Style", and stayed there for nine weeks consecutively, tying up with Carly Rae Jepsen's hit single "Call Me Maybe".
At the start of their Overexposed World Tour in South America, Maroon 5 introduced the newest addition in the band to the audience: their old and close friend Sam Farrar who is also the bassist of the band Phantom Planet on guitars, occasionally on the bass guitar, backing vocals, turntables and providing samples and other special effects (using the MPC). Farrar also co-wrote and co-produced a few of the band's songs on all of their studio albums and remixed one of their songs, which is called "Woman", on Call and Response: The Remix Album, released in 2008. On August 31, 2012, during a show in Argentina Farrar filled-in for Mickey Madden on the bass guitar for the very first time he subsequently filled-in for Madden on the next few shows of the tour.
On July 5, 2012, Maroon 5 announced that they had begun work on their fifth studio album, a close follow-up to Overexposed, and on October 10, 2012, Jesse Carmichael confirmed that he would be returning to the band after they complete their Overexposed world tour (just three days later, the first part of the tour ended on October 13, 2012 in Sydney, Australia). Charmichael rejoin in time for the band to record their fifth studio album and to tour in support of it.
November 27, 2012, Maroon 5 released "Daylight", the third single from Overexposed. To promote the song, the band has launched a video project called "The Daylight Project". The project encouraged fans to film their own segments for inclusion in the official music video for "Daylight", directed by Jonas Åkerlund. "Daylight" was performed for the first time as a single on November 8, 2012, during an episode of The Voice and the official video had its premiere on December 10, 2012.
On April 1, 2013, Maroon 5 will headline the 12th Annual Honda Civic Tour with special guest, Kelly Clarkson. The tour began on August 1, 2013, at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Missouri and ended on October 6, 2013, with a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
James Valentine said in April 2013 that the band was in the studio recording songs for its upcoming fifth studio album: "The stuff we're working on now, it definitely has gone maybe a little darker in its sound, maybe back a little bit more to what we kind of did on Songs About Jane, but at this point we do have all kinds of different songs and it is early."
"I think the classic Maroon 5 song is minor, and it has some funk, Nile Rodgers-style guitar and the lyrics are probably about getting your heart broken. So minor, funk and heartbreak -- that’s the Maroon 5 formula."
—James Valentine on what he felt was the typical Maroon 5 sound
Adam Levine has stated: "[E]verything that's written and performed and put together pretty much comes from us. I just think people would be surprised to know that we’re a self-contained unit. We’re a band that does their own thing. There’s no puppet master."
However, in an article about the songwriter and producer Benny Blanco, subtitled "Benny Blanco, Hit Maker for Rihanna and Maroon 5," it is revealed that at least some of Maroon 5's songs, such as "Moves Like Jagger," are the product of efforts by, or collaborations with, professional songwriters and producers. In the same article, Adam Levine is quoted as saying: “It’s almost as if [Benny Blanco] has the Midas touch in putting the right people together at the right time to create a musical moment. He’s about the collaboration. And he’s so good at nailing down who does everything best.”
Maroon 5 has cited Michael Jackson, The Police, Talking Heads, Aaliyah, Oasis, Shabba Ranks and Prince as influences. Adam Levine has also cited Stevie Wonder as one of his heroes. Further, guitarist James Valentine said he was influenced by guitarists like Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and John Scofield as well as the rock band, Queens of the Stone Age. Maroon 5's songs tend to be very guitar-heavy, often accompanied by piano or synthesizer. The theme in all of their songs is love, frequently lost love; songs like "This Love", "Makes Me Wonder" and "Misery" have a very cynical tone, often expressing dissatisfaction with a relationship, while their more heartfelt and emotional songs such as "She Will Be Loved", "Never Gonna Leave This Bed" express a longing for a romantic relationship. "Makes Me Wonder" has a secondary theme, in which Levine expresses his disillusionment and frustration with the state of American politics and the Iraq War.
Maroon 5's sound changes from album to album. Songs About Jane consists of songs about Levine's ex-girlfriend Jane. On It Won't Be Soon Before Long, however the songs are less personal and are more electric with more use of synthesizers, creating a retro feel. Hands All Over continues the band's lost love theme, along with songs about Infatuation and was re-released in 2011, with the hit single "Moves like Jagger", an electropop song which represents a drastic change in the band's sound, with more of a dance feel to it. "It was one of those songs that was definitely a risk," Levine said. "It's a bold statement. We've never really released a song like that. But it's exciting to do something different, do something new. I'm just glad that everyone likes it." When announcing their fourth album, Overexposed, James Valentine called the album "our most 'pop' record ever and we weren’t shy about really going for it." In a separate interview about Maroon 5's fifth album, which is still being written, Valentine said: "The stuff we're working on now, it definitely has gone maybe a little darker in its sound, maybe back a little bit more to what we kind of did on Songs About Jane."