One of Us: Eric Bazilian of the Hooters

The front man for the Hooters — who open the Borgata’s new outdoor music venue this month — tells us why the iconic Philly band is bigger overseas than in the States, and why he might be an annoying dinner date.

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Eric Bazilian, which is apparently really hard to spell. I’ve gotten every imaginable permutation.

I am … a guy in a band.

I was born … at the University of Pennsylvania hospital, at 1:37 a.m. on July 21, 1953. I have four generations of connections to Penn: my grandfather, parents, me and my daughter went there, and my son is starting in the fall.

I live in … Wayne. And often in my car.

The most famous song I’m known for is … “One of Us,” hands down. I wrote it to impress my girlfriend, now my wife. I happened to be working with Joan Osborne at the time, and she wound up singing it. She was born to sing that song, and the song was born to give her a career.

This summer, I’ll be … playing six weeks in Germany with the band. We’re also doing one show in Norway and one in Sweden, which is where my wife is from. I usually spend the entire summer in Sweden.

The best piece of advice I was ever given … was from Kenny Gamble. I had an amazing meeting with him upon graduating from college, and I told him all of these different things I was doing in music. He said, “If you can only do one thing, write songs.”

People would be surprised to know that I … have a degree in physics. And I know tongue twisters in 12 languages. And I am 61 years old.

The Hooters are more popular overseas than in the U.S. because … Europe has a much stronger tradition for appreciating live music of all ages, by all ages. Kids will go to see a metal show one night and classical or jazz the next.

My worst subject in high school was … school. I went to Germantown Friends, and I was not a good student.

The biggest problem with the music industry today is … getting noticed because there’s so much out there. And then getting paid.

If I could change one thing about Philadelphia … I would widen the Schuylkill Expressway. Again.

One game you will not beat me at is … Scramble with Friends, on the phone. It’s like Boggle. I’ve won 98 percent of the games I’ve played.

The first concert I ever went to was … the Beatles, in Baltimore, 1964. Amazing. The Hard Day’s Night tour.

My kids are always telling me … to stop making funny noises. My wife tells me that, too. Apparently I am a very loud chewer.

The most memorable concert I ever played is … of course, Live Aid.

If I weren’t doing this … I would be a doctor. My father is a psychiatrist and still practicing here. Eighty-six and working full-time.

One Hooters tune I wouldn’t mind never playing again is … “500 Miles.”

The thing most people get wrong about my band is … that we haven’t continued to make records and perform together since 1980. We have been playing continuously.

On Sunday mornings, I like to … sleep and make breakfast for my family. But I have the same breakfast every day: a bowl of kefir, fresh fruit and raw cashews.

I am deathly afraid of … being irrelevant. And of liver.

Originally published in the June 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.