Melissa Etheridge was born on May 29, in Leavenworth, Kansas. She was still only a teenager when she began playing piano and guitar in various covers bands around Kansas. After this grounding she had a more formal training at the Berklee College Of Music before playing the club circuit around Boston.
However, her career took off after relocating to Los Angeles, where Island Records chief Chris Blackwell discovered her. Signed in 1986, her first break was writing the music for the movie Weeds. She had recruited one band to work with her but when this did not work out, she settled for a simple trio with Kevin McCormick on bass and Craig Krampf on drums. The first album was recorded live in the studio and spawned the single "Bring Me Some Water." A turntable hit, it took some time to pick up sales but ended up a Grammy nominee. Former Iggy Pop sideman Scott Thurston made a guest appearance on the first album and returned for the second, along with U2's Bono. Krampf did not play on the album, as he had been replaced by Maurigio Fritz Lewak.
Etheridge won a Grammy in the best female rock vocal performance in 1992 and 1994, and scored several mainstream hits, such as "Come to My Window," "I'm the Only One" and "I Wanna Come Over." She also announced herself as a lesbian by jumping onstage to kiss Elvira at the gay and lesbian Triangle Ball during the inaugural celebrations of President Clinton's victory. She won the 1996 ASCAP songwriter of the year award, but took a lengthy break from the music business to concentrate on her domestic arrangements.
She returned in 1999 with the intimate, low-key Breakdown, followed by Skin in 2001. Far more high-profile was the media's obsessive interest in unearthing the biological father of her and then-partner Julie Cypher's two children. The sperm donor turned out to be David Crosby. After splitting with Cypher, Etheridge married actress Tammy Lynn Michaels in 2003. That same year, she appeared on a tribute album to Dolly Parton and shared the stage with her on CMT Crossroads. Etheridge offered the studio album Lucky in 2004.