Jamiroquai (// ( listen)) are a British jazz-funk band from London, formed in 1992. Fronted by singer-songwriter Jay Kay, they débuted as an acid-jazz band and have since explored other musical directions such as pop, rock, disco and electronica. The group has changed its line-up several times; with Derrick McKenzie (drums) and Sola Akingbola (percussion), who both joined in 1994, still in the official line-up.
They rose to international fame in the 1990s as one of the most prominent components in the London-based funk/acid jazz movement. Their 1996 album Travelling Without Moving, had entered the Guinness World Records as the best-selling funk album in history. Jamiroquai has thus sold more than 26 million albums worldwide. Front-man Kay won a BMI Presidents Award, and with the band, also won an Ivor Novello Award, as well as winning one Grammy Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, and receiving 13 Brit Award nominations during the course of their career.
Jason "Jay" Kay began writing songs to send to record companies. Among them was "When You Gonna Learn", a song written when he was 16 years old. He first studio recorded the song in the Round House in Camden. The producers of this session heavily stripped down the vocals and lyrics of the song and produced it based on mainstream trends, which Kay disliked. After a dispute, the track was restored to his preference. Kay was then signed to Acid Jazz Records in 1991 after he sent a demo tape of him singing a song of the Brand New Heavies. Afterwards, he gradually gathered band members, including his friend Wallis Buchanan who played the didgeridoo. Kay's manager suggested the enlistment of keyboardist Toby Smith, but was initially not convinced: " had a tendency to play these very ravey acid housey chords." Smith eventually joined as the group's co-songwriter when he saw them perform as support act for the Brand New Heavies. The first song Kay and Smith wrote together was "Too Young to Die".
According to an early video of the group performing in 1992, which was provided by Nick Tydeman; the band's earlier incarnation had been composed of members who would become permanent; Kay, Buchanan, drummer Nick Van Gelder, and Smith. Other members who appeared in the video were Simon Bartholomew from the Brand New Heavies on guitar, Tydeman on bass guitar, and PJ Harvey doing percussion.[better source needed] Being the front-man, Kay is occasionally referred to as the group name, because he is the only person under contract with a record company as the artist name of Jamiroquai. It was widely talked about that the group's formation was a result of Kay's failed audition to become a singer of the Brand New Heavies, but these rumours were denied by them.
Jamiroquai had begun performing in the British club scene. "When You Gonna Learn" became their first single in October 1992. It featured bassist Andrew Levy, who was also from the Brand New Heavies. Kay was originally given £2.5k (US$3.3k) for his first album, when he subsequently signed with Acid Jazz records; the single however, cost £35k ($46k) to produce due to Kay's control of the production. Following its success, the group were offered multiple major-label contracts and settled for a one million dollar, 8 album record deal with Sony Soho2. Kay was the only member who signed under the contract, but would share his royalties with his band members in accordance to their contributions. Bassist Stuart Zender auditioned and joined the group's lineup in 1993. Emergency on Planet Earth, was released in the same year and reached the UK albums chart at number 1. It sold 1.2 million copies worldwide, according to a Billboard report in January 1994. The album's second single, "Too Young to Die" entered the UK singles chart at number 10.
Derrick McKenzie became the group's new drummer after Van Gelder's holiday from the group took longer than expected. Jamiroquai followed up with the Return of the Space Cowboy in 1994 and ranked number 2 in the UK chart. While recording the album, Kay feared of falling into the "second album syndrome". He was in a creative block which was emphasised by his increasing drug use. In a 1996 report, the album sold 1.3 million copies worldwide, including Italy, France and Japan. "Space Cowboy", sold 114,000 copies and is the group's first number 1 in the US Dance Chart. The single additionally contained remixes by David Morales, which further put the single in club circulation. "Stillness in Time" was another UK top ten hit, peaking at number 9. The non single tracks "Manifest Destiny" and "Morning Glory" were sampled by 2Pac and Missy Elliot respectively. The group co-wrote the track "Lost Souls" for Guru's 1995 album Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality.
With Jamiroquai growing in popularity in Europe and Japan, their breakthrough in the US came with the 1996 album, Travelling Without Moving, which sold 1.4 million copies in the country and reached number 24 in the Billboard 200. It sold 3 million copies in Europe, and peaked at number 2 in the UK albums chart; selling 1.2 million copies. "Virtual Insanity", the group's best known track particularly for its music video; sold 356,000 copies and is streamed 4.5 million times as of 2014. It was also number 1 in Italy. Another hit single titled "Cosmic Girl", sold 250,580 copies and peaked at number 6 in the UK and remained in the position for 12 weeks. Cosmic Girl was followed by "Alright", which charted in the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 78 and is the group's only song to appear in that chart. In support of the album, the group gave an international tour including the UK, Japan, Australia, Brazil and the US. Prior to Travelling Without Moving, Jamiroquai contributed to the demo track, "Do You Know Where You're Coming From?" by British jungle-beat artist M-beat. Following a radio leak, Kay re-recorded the vocals of the song and was released as a single, as well as appearing on the album.