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When did Amber the song come out?

When did Amber the song come out?

“Amber” is a song recorded by American electronic music duo 311. It was released in May 1996 as the lead single from their third studio album 311 (1995). The song was written by 311 members Nick Hexum, SA Martinez, Chad Sexton and Tim Mahoney and produced by Ron St. Germain. Upon its release, “Amber” became 311’s breakthrough hit and is considered one of their signature songs. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of “Amber” and examine key details around its release and impact.

Background on 311

311 formed in Omaha, Nebraska in 1988 and consists of vocalist Nick Hexum, MC SA Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, bassist P-Nut and drummer Chad Sexton. The band blends rock, rap, reggae and funk influences in their music. After self-releasing a few independent albums in the early 1990s, 311 signed to Capricorn Records in 1992. They released their first two major label albums “Music” (1993) and “Grassroots” (1994), which built them a following on the touring circuit. However, mainstream success had still eluded 311.

Creation of “Amber”

“Amber” was written by all four 311 members during sessions for their third studio album, which was self-titled “311” and released in 1995. The music for the verses was written by guitarist Tim Mahoney, while vocalist Nick Hexum penned the lyrics and chorus melody. Mahoney used an unconventional guitar tuning for the track, which contributed to its distinct and ethereal sound.

The lyrics were inspired by Nick Hexum’s former girlfriend named Amber, who he had broken up with but still had feelings for. As Hexum describes, “It is about a girl named Amber, a relationship that got away from me. It’s a pretty simple story.”

Release of “Amber” Single

“Amber” was released on May 13, 1996 as the lead single from 311’s self-titled third album. It was issued on a promotional CD single and cassette single. The song immediately stood out from previous 311 singles with its atmospheric, mellow sound led by Mahoney’s arpeggiated opening guitar riff.

Upon release, “Amber” caught the attention of alternative rock radio and quickly rose up the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. In July 1996, it reached #1 on the chart, where it stayed for three weeks. This marked 311’s big commercial breakthrough and their first chart-topping single.

Impact and Legacy of “Amber”

Propelled by the success of “Amber”, 311’s album 311 was certified triple platinum with over 3 million copies sold. It remains their best-selling album to date. The song exposed them to a wider mainstream rock audience and they were nominated for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group at the 1997 Grammy Awards.

“Amber” is widely considered 311’s signature song and is a staple of their live shows, usually coming towards the end of the set. It remains popular on alternative rock radio playlists. In a 2016 fan poll by Loudwire, it was voted the #1 311 song of all time.

The song had an impact outside of just 311’s core fanbase. Notably, NBA player Reggie Miller adopted “Amber” as his unofficial theme song during his career in the late 1990s. Miller’s connection to the song was referenced many times during NBA broadcasts.

In the decades since its release, “Amber” has appeared in various films and TV shows as well as cover versions by other artists. AllMusic critic Steve Huey sums up the song’s importance in stating it is “the quintessential 311 song and a tremendous fan favorite.”

Charts Performance of “Amber”

Here is a look at how “Amber” performed on the charts:

Chart Peak Position Weeks on Chart
US Billboard Hot 100 66 20
US Alternative Songs (Billboard) 1 26
US Mainstream Rock Songs (Billboard) 10 28

As shown, “Amber” reached #66 on the overall Billboard Hot 100 chart and spent 20 weeks on the chart. But it made a bigger impact on the Alternative Songs chart, where it hit #1 and remained on the chart for 26 weeks. It also crossed over to mainstream rock radio, peaking at #10 on that chart.


In summary, “Amber” was released in May 1996 as the lead single from 311’s self-titled third album. Penned by guitarist Tim Mahoney and vocalist Nick Hexum, the atmospheric song tells the story of a past relationship. “Amber” became 311’s breakthrough hit, topping the Alternative Songs chart for three weeks. It helped propel their album to triple platinum status and earned them a Grammy nomination. The song is widely considered 311’s signature tune and their most iconic and influential recording. More than 25 years later, “Amber” remains a staple of rock radio playlists and in 311’s live sets, capping off their shows. Though they have scored other hits, “Amber” is the song that first brought 311 major mainstream success and widespread recognition.