TLC formed in 1991 and was originally called 2nd Nature. The group originated in Atlanta, Georgia and was originally comprised of Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins, Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes and Crystal Jones.
In 1991, Jones tried to form a group and put out a request for two more girls. T-Boz and Left Eye joined the group and they were able to get an audition with Perri 'Pebbles' Reid. Needless to say, Pebbles was impressed and set the girls up to audition for the local label LaFace Records. Antonio 'L.A. Reid' was impressed with T-Boz and Left Eye but felt Jones should be replaced and brought in Rozonda 'Chilli' Thomas.
The new trio was signed and began producing their first album as TLC. TLC stood for 'tender loving care' but was based upon the first names of the original members of the group, Tionne, Lisa and Crystal. In order to keep this meaning when Crystal was replaced, the group received the nicknames T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli. The names were explained as follows: 'T-Boz' because 'Tionne is the boss', 'Left Eye' because 'eye is right' and 'Chilli' because 'Rozonda brings the sauce.'
When the group released their first album Ooooooohhh.... On the TLC Tip in 1992, they quickly achieved success. With Left Eye's quirky raps, T-Boz's low lead vocals and Chilli's strong vocals, the group took the world by storm. In music videos, the girls were known for having curious costumes in which they had unwrapped condoms on their clothing. The album featured hit singles 'Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg,' 'Hat 2 Da Back,' 'What About Your Friends,' and 'Baby-Baby-Baby.' All but 'Hat 2 Da Back' were top ten hits on the Hot 100, with 'Hat' making it to #30. The album went double platinum within the year and has since gone four times platinum in the US and sold six million copies worldwide.
Trouble arose for member Left Eye as she began a rough relationship with Atlanta Falcons football player Andre Rison after the group's first release. Left Eye was fighting alcoholism and the couple often had violent encounters. It hit the critical point when, after a fight, Left Eye tossed pairs of Rison's sneakers into a bathtub, doused them in gasoline and lit them on fire. The fire spread throughout the entire house and Left Eye was indicted on charges of first-degree arson. She was sentenced to five years of probation and entered rehab.
In the same year, the group began their second album CrazySexyCool. Left Eye was allowed to attend recording sessions but appeared significantly less on the album. The album had four big hits on the U.S. charts with 'Red Light Special' reaching #2 on the Hot 100, 'Diggin' On You' reaching #5 and 'Creep' and 'Waterfalls' both reaching #1. 'Waterfalls' featured a million dollar music video, the most expensive ever up to that point.
The album was a massive success, selling 11 million copies in the U.S., becoming one of only seven R&B albums to achieve diamond status and won the 1996 Grammy for Best R&B album. Despite the album's tremendous success, the girls filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1995. The reason for this is that the girls were making less than $35,000 a year after paying managers, producers, expenses and taxes. They made such little money because their contract, established in 1991, granted the girls only seven percent of the revenue from album sales. After a legal battle to renegotiate the contract, the members of TLC removed their deal with Pebbles and received a better contract as they prepared for their next album.
Friction arose during development of the group's third album as they fought with producer Dallas Austin, who wanted $4.2 million and creative control of the project. They finally negotiated a deal and released the album which had a more pop-based feel. It was still a tremendous success, debuting at #1 and selling over 6 million copies in the U.S. The album had two #1 hit singles, 'No Scrubs' which spawned the spin off 'No Pigeons' by Sporty Thievz and 'Unpretty.'
Difficulties surrounding FanMail were not only with producer Dallas Austin as Left Eye began to issue several public complaints about her groupmates and Dallas Austin after the album's release. She released a challenge to her groupmates in an issue of Entertainment Weekly in which she said they should each make a solo cd for a 3-CD album entitled The Challenge in which fans could decide who was the most talented.
Tragedy struck in 2002 when Left Eye died in a car accident in Honduras. Chilli and T-Boz finished the fourth album alone and released it to disappointing commercial sales. The album, entitled 3D went double platinum.
Currently, Chilli is nearing completion of a solo album. It is expected to release later this year. In addition, Chilli said that TLC would be returning to the studio later this year to begin work on a new album.