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When the Afghan Whigs signed to Sub Pop Records in 1989, it helped establish the growing grunge and alternative rock trends as transnational rather than isolated in the Pacific Northwest. Formed in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1986 by Greg Dulli, Rick McCollum, John Curley, and Steve Earle, the Afghan Whigs had spawned from Dulli's previous effort, the Black Republicans. Following the end of the Black Republicans, Dulli temporarily relocated to Arizona, where he began to write the material for what would become the Afghan Whigs’ debut record, Big Top Halloween, released on its own Ultrasuede label in 1988. Bolstered by positive underground press and college radio play, the album caught the attention of Sub Pop Records in Seattle, and the label signed the band to record a single—later followed by a full album contract. Up In It, released in 1990 through Sub Pop, resulted in a tour with Mudhoney and Bullet LaVolta, and the Afghan Whigs continued to tour the US, UK, and Europe through 1992. Two releases in 1992, the EP Uptown Avondale and the album Congregation, established the band's unique (in the alternative scene) approach to blending soul, R & B, and post-punk music. It was signed to Elektra Records after a bidding war and released Gentlemen in 1993, which proved to be its most commercially successful record. The relatively poor sales of the follow-up, 1996's Black Love, caused a rift between the band and its label, which saw the Afghan Whigs moving to Columbia Records for 1998's 1965. The band broke up in 2001 citing various issues, shortly reunited in 2006, and reunited on a more permanent basis in 2011 for shows and the recordings of two albums, Do to the Beast and In Spades, in 2014 and 2017 respectively.