1992–1999: Formation and breakthrough
The band's script and logo, designed by Kay
After a failed audition to become a singer of the Brand New Heavies, songwriter Jason "Jay" Kay formed Jamiroquai alongside co-songwriter and keyboardist Toby Smith, Stuart Zender on bass guitar, didgeridoo player Wallis Buchanan and drummer Nick van Gelder, who left shortly after the group's first album. Being the front-man, Kay is occasionally referred to as 'Jamiroquai', due to misconception by some that the band is a solo artist.
Kay's home demos were noticed by Acid Jazz Records, and under that label, Jamiroquai's first single "When You Gonna Learn", was released in 1992. Following its success, the group were offered multiple major-label contracts and settled for a US$1 million record deal with Sony Soho2. Emergency on Planet Earth, was released in 1993 and reached the UK albums chart at number 1. The album's second single, "Too Young to Die" entered the UK singles chart at number 10.
The Return of the Space Cowboy followed in 1994. The single "Space Cowboy", is the group's first number 1 in the US Dance Chart; while "Stillness in Time" was another UK top ten hit, peaking at number 9. The non single tracks "Manifest Destiny" and "Morning Glory" were sampled by 2Pac and Missy Elliot respectively.
With Jamiroquai growing in popularity in Europe and Japan, their American breakthrough came with the 1996 album, Travelling Without Moving. It reached number 24 in the US Billboard 200, and number 2 in the UK albums chart. The album yielded two big hits: "Virtual Insanity" and "Cosmic Girl". The success of the former song was due in part of its music video and remains a popular track. It sold 356,000 copies and is streamed 4.5 million times as of 2014. The song was also number 1 in Italy. "Cosmic Girl" peaked at number 6 in the UK and remained in the position for 12 weeks. The single "Alright" charted in the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 78 and is the group's only song to appear in that chart.
A 1998 single titled, "Deeper Underground" was issued and was listed in the Godzilla soundtrack. "Canned Heat" (1999) was their second number 1 in the U.S. Dance Chart, and was also included in the soundtrack for the 2004 cult film Napoleon Dynamite. Their fourth studio album, Synkronized was released in 1999. Bassist Stuart Zender left Jamiroquai during the production of the album, and was replaced by Nick Fyffe to record new sessions. Synkronized, which sold 3 million copies, did not meet the sales of Travelling Without Moving, with 8 million copies sold. The album fared even less in the US due to non-music press coverage, including Kay assaulting a tabloid photographer.
2001–2011: Release from Sony Music
Jamiroquai performing at the Congress Theater in Chicago (2005)
The group issued their 2001 follow-up, A Funk Odyssey. Both the album and its single "Little L" were in Top 100 charts worldwide. Guitarist Rob Harris joined the group and contributed to the album's songwriting, such as "Corner of the Earth". Songwriter and keyboardist Toby Smith left the band in 2002.
The band's 2005 single, "Feels Just Like It Should", received a Grammy nomination for Best Short Form Music Video. Their sixth album titled Dynamite, was later released. It was recorded in various locations, including their studio in Buckinghamshire, and reached number 3 on the UK chart. The track, "Seven Days in Sunny June" is featured in the soundtrack for The Devil Wears Prada. Since the release of Dynamite, the group's line-up has consisted of Kay, Harris, drummer Derrick McKenzie, keyboardist Matt Johnson, Paul Turner on bass guitar, and percussionist Sola Akingbola.
In March 2006, Jamiroquai announced their switch to Columbia Records. A greatest hits collection, High Times: Singles 1992–2006, was issued in November and marked the end of Kay's contract with Sony. It topped the UK album chart after its first week of release, and is certified triple platinum by the BPI. With the compilation being issued out of contractual obligation, Kay stated that he considered retirement from his music career after leaving Sony. In 2007, Jamiroquai performed in the Gig in the Sky, a concert held on a private Boeing 757 in association with Sony Ericsson. The group thus currently holds the Guinness World Record for "fastest concert", performed on the aircraft whilst travelling at 1017 km/h (632 mph). They formerly held the record for the "highest concert", performed on a Virgin Australia aircraft. The group appeared in season one of Live from Abbey Road.
Jamiroquai performing in Sofia, Bulgaria (2013)
Rock Dust Light Star was released in 2010 under Mercury Records. In the same year, the band worked with Julian Perretta and produced his début album Stitch Me Up. Jamiroquai also uploaded a 2011 track called "Smile" for free download via their SoundCloud page. In 2013, the group's first three albums were reissued and remastered.
On 16 January 2017, Jamiroquai released an online short teaser video for their eighth and first studio album in seven years, Automaton, scheduled for a March release. In the following week, the album's eponymous single was issued, followed up by "Cloud 9" in February. Although not released as a single, "Shake it On" broke into the Official French Singles Chart, peaking at number 154. In May, Kay seriously injured his spine, requiring surgery; it led to cancellation of shows in Tokyo and London for their Automaton Tour, which were rescheduled in September and December respectively.
In January 2018, a song titled, "Now We Are Alone", originally an out-take from Automaton was made available for streaming via the band's official YouTube page, and is the first in a series of upcoming bonus tracks.