The Gin Blossom’s Hit ‘Hey Jealousy’ Has a Dark Backstory That Ended With the Songwriter’s Tragic Death Just Weeks After the Song Went Gold

The Gin Blossoms is an American rock band that first formed in the late ’80s, rising to fame over the years that followed for their unique, pop sound and soulful lyrics. The band broke up in 1997, only to reunite a few years later — and since then, the Gin Blossoms have sporadically managed to write and record new music, delighting their loyal fans. The band is probably best known for the hit song “Hey Jealousy,” which first debuted in 1989 and was re-released several years later. As popular as the song has become with decades of fans, many listeners might not realize that the song actually details the tragic downfall of one of the tune’s writers — a tale that eventually led to a sad celebrity death. 

Gin Blossoms smiling on stage in front of a crowd
(L-R) Scott Johnson, Jesse Valenzuela, Bill Leen, Scott Hessel and Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms | Jenny Anderson/Getty Images

When did the Gin Blossoms form?

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The Gin Blossoms first got together as a band in 1987, in Tempe, Arizona. The band’s lineup during the early years included lead guitarist and songwriter Doug Hopkins, bass guitarist Bill Leen, Jesse Valenzuela, rhythm guitarist Richard Taylor, Taylor’s replacement Steven Severson, and drummer Chris McCann. After a few years of touring around Arizona, the Gin Blossoms recorded their first album, Dusted, which was released in 1989. 

The Gin Blossoms received nationwide renown after the release of their 1992 album, New Miserable Experience. By that time, several members of the group were already struggling with the pressures of the spotlight — pressures that were only compounded when a song from the album, “Hey Jealousy,” went gold, becoming a Top 25 hit

The Gin Blossoms song ‘Hey Jealousy’ is one of their biggest hits

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“Hey Jealousy” helped to make the Gin Blossoms become breakthrough stars, and in the years that followed the song’s release, the band performed at venues and festivals all around the world. The album New Miserable Experience went quadruple platinum, and four years later, the group released a follow-up album, Congratulations I’m Sorry. Unfortunately, the group’s success was marred by the sudden, tragic death of Doug Hopkins. His death, and the months leading up to it, is shadowed in a bizarre way by the song that he helped bring to life, “Hey Jealousy.”

What is the dark story behind ‘Hey Jealousy’?

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According to MTV, the original song was written to be even darker than what its final form turned out to be. The lyric “You can trust me not to think” was originally written as “You can trust me not to drink.” Reportedly, Hopkins was deep in the throes of alcoholism and depression when he wrote the song, which led to lyrics such as “If you don’t expect too much from me / You might not be let down.” Ultimately, Hopkins was kicked out of the band not long after the song became a hit, and in 1993, he died by suicide.

His death had an impact on his bandmates, and recently, Gin Blossoms member Robin Wilson opened up to American Songwriter about how Hopkins’ death affected them: “It was a really tough time. It was really sad. My feelings on Doug are mostly built around regret and anger. I really, really regret that he and I didn’t write more songs together. What could have happened? We had this great chemistry, and it seemed like we could have done so much more. So I have very deep regret about that.” In spite of the sadness surrounding Hopkins’ death, his time in the band led to a beloved ’90s song that still speaks to fans around the world.