John Rzeznik’s biography, net worth, fact, career, awards and life story

IntroAmerican musician
Is Musician 
From United States of America 
Type Music 
Birth 5 December 1965, Buffalo, Erie County, New York, U.S.A.
Age:54 years

John Joseph Theodore “Johnny” Rzeznik (/ˈrɛznɪk/; born December 5, 1965) is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and producer. He is best known as the guitarist and frontman of the rock band the Goo Goo Dolls, of which he is a founding member and with whom he has recorded eleven studio albums.

Early and personal life

Rzeznik was born in Buffalo, New York, the youngest and only son of five children of Edith (née Pomeroy) and Joseph Rzeznik, a bar proprietor and postal clerk. Both of Rzeznik’s parents were musicians, playing the clarinet and flute. Rzeznik had a strict Catholic upbringing in Buffalo’s working-class East Side Polish neighborhood and attended Corpus Christi Grammar School. All four of Rzeznik’s grandparents were born in Poland; the original pronunciation of his last name is Rzeźnik [ˈʐɛʑɲik], Polish for “butcher”.

Rzeznik’s father died on February 2, 1981, from a diabetic coma at the age of 55, when Rzeznik was 15 years old. On October 26, 1982, his mother died from a sudden heart attack in the family’s living room at the age of 53. Having lost both of his parents, he was brought up by his four older sisters, Phyllis, Fran, Gladys and Kate, with help from their cousin John Guljas. He paid for his own apartment using Social Security Survivor Benefit checks. It was during this period and while attending McKinley Vocational High School that Rzeznik began playing the guitar. Rzeznik briefly attended Buffalo State College, dropping out after his first year.

Rzeznik met former model Laurie Farinacci in 1990, married her in 1993 but got a divorce in 2003; they did not have any children. He started dating Melina Gallo in 2005 and married her in Malibu, California, on July 26, 2013. On December 22, 2016, he and Gallo had their first child, a daughter, Liliana.


Goo Goo Dolls

In 1985, he formed the band that became the Goo Goo Dolls with Robby Takac. Previously John had been in a band with Takac’s cousin, called The Beaumonts. It is thought the band was originally called The Sex Maggots, however Rzeznik admitted this was a joke on stage one night, and he was “never actually in a band called The Sex Maggots”. They got the name Goo Goo Dolls from an ad in a True Detective magazine when a concert promoter asked them.

In the early days of The Goo Goo Dolls, the band performed at gigs relentlessly, with Robby as the frontman (Rzeznik gradually becoming the frontman over the next few albums, as each new album contained more songs sung by Rzeznik than the last). They were soon picked up by a small record label, Celluloid. Under Celluloid they released their first eponymous album on a $750 budget (later the re-prints would be referred to as “First Release”). This attracted the attention of a larger record label, Metal Blade, who released their next few albums. For the next few years the band toured, produced albums and held down regular jobs.

Other activity

Following the album Gutterflower, John wrote “Always Know Where You Are” and “I’m Still Here” for the Disney film Treasure Planet, which were also released as a single independently from the band.

From October to December 2007, Rzeznik was a judge alongside Sheila E. and Australian Idol judge and marketing manager Ian “Dicko” Dickson on the Fox network’s The Next Great American Band.

On June 19, 2008, John Rzeznik was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was awarded the Hal David Starlight award.

On March 24, 2014, Cash Cash released their new single “Lightning” which features John Rzeznik on vocals and was written by Cash Cash and Rzeznik together.

On April 18, 2015, he participated in the Toyota Celebrity/Pro Race where he finished 12th to actor and former two-time winner of the event Alfonso Ribeiro for which he donated $5,000 to charity.

Musical style


Most of the music Rzeznik listened to while growing up was influenced by his sisters, and consisted of classic rock such as The Rolling Stones and The Kinks. The youngest of his four older sisters moved towards punk music and Rzeznik became interested in bands such as the Ramones and The Clash. Rzeznik attributes his gift for melody to listening to bands such as Kiss, Cheap Trick, The Cure and Rush in the early 1980s. Rzeznik also cites Paul Westerberg as an “obvious influence” on his music.

Guitar tunings

Rzeznik is well known for his distinctive and unusual guitar tunings. Many of his newer songs, particularly the more acoustic-oriented ones, are performed with his guitars tuned to an open chord with several of the strings tuned to the same note but in different octaves. This gives the guitar a shimmery, jangly sound almost like a 12-string guitar. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the B-D-D-D-D-D tuning of his signature hit “Iris”, but other examples include “Name,” “Black Balloon,” “Think About Me,” and “Here Is Gone.” Conversely, on earlier albums such as Superstar Car Wash and A Boy Named Goo, Rzeznik often used a conventional standard tuning.


Rzeznik believes writing is not just an inspirational thing but that writing music is “ninety nine percent perspiration.” He says that when writing a song, he often “runs tape and screws around with stuff,” and his songs are often both biographical and autobiographical. According to Rzeznik, before penning down the song “Iris”, he was on the verge of leaving the band; because he had been writing songs for the past nine years and it had been a low. However, Rzeznik was approached for writing the soundtrack of the movie “City of Angels”, and after watching the movie, Rzeznik penned down the song, which changed the band’s career.

Notable performances

At the 2004 Fashion Rocks! concert in New York, Rzeznik performed a duet version of the song Iris with Canadian pop-punk singer Avril Lavigne. The Goo Goo Dolls also performed the song “Name” at a live concert with LeAnn Rimes. Rzeznik also performed Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” with Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit for the victims of September 11 as a tribute to the heroes.

On July 4, 2004, Rzeznik and his bandmates returned home to Buffalo and played a free show to give back to their loyal fans, over 60,000 of whom attended. The day quickly became a city triumph when rain came pouring down during their performance. It turned out to be one of the strongest rain storms of the year in Buffalo, but the Goo Goo Dolls did not stop playing. Rzeznik declared, “We’re going to keep going until this shit stops”. This performance was captured on DVD and CD for the public in the Goo Goo Dolls release Live in Buffalo: July 4, 2004.

Rzeznik also performed a version of U2’s “All I Want Is You” on the album Les Paul and Friends.


Rzeznik has used many different guitar brands and models. On Superstar Car Wash, he endorsed ESP guitars. The liner notes of A Boy Named Goo list Epiphone as his guitar of choice. Since the late ’90s, Rzeznik has used Fender electric guitars. He has used many variations such as the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jaguar and a “Halfcaster” (a Stratocaster cut in half). He also used Guild acoustic guitars on the “Dizzy Up the Girl” and “Gutterflower” tours. Rzeznik in a 2003 interview noted that “No matter what guitar I have it seems that anything with strings makes music to my ears.” Guild models used include several D-55s (unusually, most of his D-55s were built in Fender’s Corona, California Shop), a black F65CE, multiple Peregrine/S7CE Customs (a Guild Custom Shop Model), a black Songbird/S4CE, and a black F47M. Live performances of this time sometimes showed the auxiliary guitarist, Greg Suran, using some Guild acoustics such as the DV-52 and F-47M in natural finishes.

Since beginning the “Let Love In” tour, Rzeznik has been experimenting with Gibson Les Paul guitars and semi-hollow body electric guitars. He also uses Taylor 800 and 900 series acoustic guitars while on tour. He has stated the Taylor Expression System (9V version) is one of the only forms of acoustic guitar amplification that still let the guitars “sound like wood” when played through a house PA system.

Early studio footage from the Goo Goo Dolls’ 9th studio album, Something for the Rest of Us shows John playing Taylor acoustics, in addition to Gibson acoustic and electric guitars.


  • Goo Goo Dolls (1986), Celluloid Records later re-released as First Release (1987), Metal Blade Records
  • Jed (1989), Metal Blade Records
  • Hold Me Up (1990), Metal Blade Records
  • Superstar Car Wash (1993), Metal Blade Records
  • A Boy Named Goo (1995), Metal Blade Records
  • Dizzy Up The Girl (1998), Warner Bros. Records
  • Gutterflower (2002), Warner Bros. Records
  • Let Love In (2006), Warner Bros. Records
  • Something for the Rest of Us (2010), Warner Bros. Records
  • Magnetic (2013), Warner Bros. Records
  • Boxes (2016), Warner Bros. Records

Solo singles

YearTitleChart positionsAlbum
USUS PopUS Adult
2002“I’m Still Here (Jim’s Theme)”3810Treasure Planet Soundtrack

Collaborations/Individual Discography

  • Limp Bizkit and Johnny Rzeznik – “Wish You Were Here” – America: A Tribute to Heroes (2001)
  • “I’m Still Here (Jim’s Theme)” – Treasure Planet (2002)
  • “Always Know Where You Are” – Treasure Planet (2002)
  • “For Your Love” – with The Yardbirds – Birdland (2003)
  • “Once in a Lifetime” – Good Morning Miami theme
  • “All I Want is You” – Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played (2005)
  • “Men of War” – with Steve Morse & Michael Lee Jackson (original version from the Gillan album, Double Trouble) – Gillan’s Inn (2006)
  • “Lightning” – with Cash Cash (2014)

Personal quotes

“Everything happens for a reason & if you stand right where you are now, & you look down & back to everything. to all the events that lead up to you sitting in this room right now with me, you’ll see where the order is & where you are right now is pretty amazing. Where we all are, where I am right now is amazing”.

“I always have this thing; if you write a really cool song, & then you put your leather pants on, you go out, and play, that’s cool. That’s playing with your image. If you put the leather pants on, & write a song to fit the pants, you’re a total poser. You’re being more conscious of your image than your craft, or whatever you want to call it, & you really have to avoid that”.

“When you find success, suddenly you have to defend your credibility against these idiots who don’t know a thing about you”.

“It’s better to have a pocket full of regrets than to never have lived.”

“There is nothing tastier than a heaping plate of fried clams. With tartar sauce and lemon.”

“It’s such a thrill to perform live. You never know if you’re going to get hit with a bottle or a bra.”

“Los Angeles is good and bad because it’s full of people that are either running away from something or looking for something.”… “It’s the most unintentionally funny city in the world.”

References and notes