Mr. Big was one of the few "shredder" heavy metal bands (translation: its members were very proficient at their instruments) that realized that songcraft was more important than just simply playing a thousand notes per minute. The seeds for the group were sown when bass player extraordinaire Billy Sheehan (often called the Eddie Van Halen of the bass) left David Lee Roth's solo band in 1988. Almost immediately after his exit, Sheehan began piecing together a new outfit comprised of former Racer X guitarist Paul Gilbert, drummer Pat Torpey, and singer Eric Martin (the latter had issued a pair of obscure solo releases in the mid-'80s). By 1989, the newly formed quartet had already inked a recording contract with Atlantic, resulting in the release of a self-titled debut the same year. Despite causing a buzz amongst musicians, the album failed to crossover to a mainstream rock audience stateside; however, Mr. Big was an immediate smash success overseas in Japan.
The quartet broadened its horizons on its sophomore effort, 1991's Lean Into It, which included the melodic psychedelic rocker "Green Tinted Sixties Mind," as well as a pair of ballads that would become sizeable hit singles: the number one smash "To Be With You" and "Just Take My Heart." Despite issuing further releases (1993's Bump Ahead and 1996's Hey Man), Mr. Big was unable to sustain their commercial success in their homeland, but over in Japan, the group's popularity continued to soar (resulting in countless sold-out tours and such Japan-only live albums as Raw Like Sushi I, Raw Like Sushi II, Japandemoniumi, Mr. Big in Japan, etc.). Gilbert split from the group in the late '90s to pursue a solo career and was replaced by former Poison guitarist Richie Kotzen. The new lineup issued a pair of studio recordings, Get Over It and Actual Size, before launching a "farewell tour" in Japan.