Is of Russian-Jewish descent. Was the lead singer of the San Francisco Bay Area rock band the Himalayans, with whom he wrote the future Counting Crows hit "Round Here." Formed Counting Crows with guitarist David Bryson in San Francisco in 1991. Prior to releasing an album, Counting Crows were chosen to perform in Van Morrison's place at his 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction when Morrison decided to skip the ceremony. Made his recording debut in 1993 with Counting Crows' August and Everything After, which sold several million copies on the strength of hits "Mr. Jones" and "Round Here." Provided backing vocals for the Wallflowers (on "6th Avenue Heartache," from their 1996 album Bringing Down the Horse) and Ryan Adams (on "Answering Bell," from his 2001 album Gold). Continues to support athletic programs at his alma mater, the University of California.