From 1984 to 1987, songwriter-guitarist David Roback, already known for his work in Rain Parade, and Kendra Smith, the former bass player for the Dream Syndicate, were the nucleus of a band called Opal. Their album Happy Nightmare Baby stunned critics and college radio with its bristling, loopy guitar dysphasia.
Halfway through an American tour with the Jesus and Mary Chain, however, Smith dashed the hopes of a growing legion of fans by leaving Opal in a mysterious storm of emotion.
Roback recruited singer-songwriter Hope Sandoval to replace Smith, but the two of them soon began creating new material and decided on a completely fresh start.
Opal members William Cooper, Keith Mitchell and Suki Ewers played on the coldly beautiful album She Hangs Brightly (1990) but Mazzy Star had none of the aggressive psychosis of its predecessor. Its appeal was more dissolute.
Sandoval sang in a pouty voice which, combined with Roback’s slide guitar and organ harmonica, made for an album that sounded like some sodden juke-joint astral projection.
The follow-up album So Tonight That I Might See (1993) spaced off into even hazier dreamscapes that were so relaxed it made the Cowboy Junkies seem wired.
Their final album for Capitol, Among My Swan (1996) was less commercially successful than its predecessors, although it produced their highest-peaking single in the United Kingdom when Flowers in December reached #40 to become their only Top 40 entry on the chart.
The band dissolved in 1997.