Five for Fighting Biography
Five for Fighting is the stage name of U.S. singer-songwriter John Ondrasik. His 2000 album America Town went platinum in the U.S. largely due to the success of the song "Superman (It's Not Easy)" in late 2001. The 2004 album The Battle for Everything has also enjoyed chart success in the United States. Ondrasik has also released a DualDisc of his 2004 album which has one side containing The Battle for Everything in its entirety and the other side being a DVD containing bonus footage and the "100 Years" music video. Five for Fighting's fourth album, Two Lights, was released on August 1, 2006.
John Ondrasik was born in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. He grew up there in a musical family with his mother teaching him the piano from the age of two. As a teenager, he learned how to play the guitar as well and started to write music. While he also learned to sing opera briefly, he quickly decided that he would like to be a piano playing popular musician along the lines of Elton John and Billy Joel. He adopted the name "Five for Fighting" which is an expression in ice hockey when a player is sent from the rink by the referee for a five-minute major penalty for fighting. The name was used for the reason that it would be more memorable than his real name. Ondrasik went to college at UCLA and studied applied mathematics, continuing to pursue music in his spare time.
In 1997, his first album Message for Albert was released by EMI. After the success of America Town, Capitol Records re-released this debut album.
In 2000, Five for Fighting signed with Columbia Records and released America Town on September 26, 2000. At first, it made little impact until "Superman (It's Not Easy)" became an anthem after the September 11 attacks. Ondrasik would perform the song at The Concert for New York City in late 2001. In addition to its status as an anthem post September 11, 2001, Five for Fighting contributed a live performance version of their song "Superman" to the charity album Live in the X Lounge IV.
"Superman (It's Not Easy)" started climbing the charts reaching the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard Adult Top 40. While America Town failed to make the top 50 of the Billboard 200 album charts, its consistent sales led to its going platinum. Superman (It's Not Easy) was also an international hit reaching number one on a composite adult international chart (based on performance in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Australia). Second single Easy Tonight would make the top 20 of the world adult chart as well as going top 20 in New Zealand.
Their third album The Battle for Everything debuted at number 20 on the Billboard 200 in February 2004. Its first single "100 Years" was another top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and again reached number one on the World Adult Top 40. It also was number one on a composite world airplay chart and top 10 on a composite world modern rock chart. (based on USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, Canada and Australia).
The Five for Fighting song "100 Years" was used in an ubiquitous JP Morgan Chase commercial, an episode of Clubhouse on CBS, an episode of Smallville (TV series), and more recently in an episode of Scrubs. The song was also used in the last scenes of the final episode of JAG and in a retrospective during Katie Couric's last day on the Today show. In 2005, Five for Fighting was one of five artists asked to appear on ESPN's SportsCenter during a weeklong segment series on the connections between music and sports. Again, Ondrasik performed "100 Years," as film clips of athletes were shown to match the years that Ondrasik would name. (As Ondrasik sang about "being 45 for a moment," Michael Jordan was shown in his #45 jersey during his 1995 comeback.)
Currently the lead single from Five for Fighting's forthcoming release, "The Riddle", is enjoying levels of success similar to their former lead single releases. It currently is #2 on the World Adult Top 40. The Riddle is also enjoying success on Vh1 being the most played video.