In 1972, Leonard Haze, Bob Gardner, and Wayne Stitzer had a band in Oakland, CA playing cover tunes. Dave Meniketti auditioned for the job of guitar player in 1973. Shortly after, the band received a call for their first gig, but they needed a name. According to Meniketti and Haze, Leonard chose the name of the album that was playing on his turntable at that moment--"Yesterday & Today"--an early album from The Beatles' LP of the same name. The first lineup—which only played cover tunes (not original music)--consisted of Haze on drums, Stitzer on piano, Gardner on bass, and Meniketti on lead vocals and lead guitar. After Wayne Stitzer quit the group, Bob Gardner went from bass to rhythm guitar and piano, and Phil Kennemore was brought in on bass. In 1974, Gardner left the group and was replaced by Joey Alves. The band, then, began writing original material.
The band released their first two studio albums, their self-titled debut and Struck Down, through London Records in 1976 and 1978 respectively. A new record deal in 1980 with A&M Records prompted the band to shorten their moniker to simply Y&T, and encores with fans chanting "Y&T, Y&T, Y&T" sealed the condensed name.
The band's first three studio albums under A&M, Earthshaker, released in 1981, Black Tiger, released in 1982, and Mean Streak, released in 1983, did not gain mainstream exposure, but are regarded as some of the band's best work. Songs off the record Earthshaker make up an important part of the band's live shows.
Commercial success and breakup (1984–1991)
Y&T's sixth studio album, In Rock We Trust, released in 1984, became the band's highest charting and selling album, reaching #46 on the Billboard 200. The album produced Y&T's first big radio hit Don't Stop Runnin' ; the rights to She's A Liar were purchased by Dr Pepper and used in an ad campaign. To date, In Rock We Trust has sold over 450,000 copies, close to reaching gold certification status. This album was the only Y&T album to chart in Canada, reaching #77 on the RPM chart.
The band's 1985 hit "Summertime Girls", off their seventh studio album Down for the Count, became the band's highest charting hit to date, reaching #55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #17 on the U.S. mainstream rock charts. It received tremendous airplay worldwide, played frequently in the Baywatch television series, is graced in several feature films, received heavy rotation on MTV as well as MTV’s top video playlists, and gets regular airplay today on classic rock radio stations throughout the United States.
Leonard Haze was replaced by Jimmy DeGrasso in 1986 and Joey Alves was replaced by Stef Burns in 1989. DeGrasso and Burns later played together with Alice Cooper in the 1990s.
Y&T's last studio album before their breakup was Ten, released in 1990. The album features some ballad highlights, such as "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark", "Ten Lovers", and "Come in from the Rain", together with a few straightforward hard rock songs, including "Hard Times", "City", "Surrender", and the fastest track Y&T ever recorded, the speed metal song "Goin' Off the Deep End".
The band officially disbanded in 1991, concluding with the live album Yesterday & Today Live.
Y&T temporarily reformed in 1995 with a lineup of Dave Meniketti, Stef Burns, Phil Kennemore, and Jimmy DeGrasso, and performed sporadically afterward. The band officially reunited in 2001 with the same lineup, only with Leonard Haze replacing DeGrasso. Stef Burns left later on that year to join Huey Lewis and the News, and was replaced by rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist John Nymann, who was an old friend of the band, previously singing backing vocals on Down for the Count. In 2006, Haze was asked to step down and was replaced by Mike Vanderhule on drums. Dave Meniketti and Phil Kennemore have been the only constant members of the band since its formation in 1974.
In 2006, a complete concert in the Netherlands was captured on the live DVD One Hot Night.
In 2009, Y&T inked a deal with Italy's Frontiers Records for the release of the band's twelfth studio album to be released in May 2010. Titled Facemelter, it is their first proper studio album in thirteen years (since 1997's Endangered Species).
Y&T played the Download Festival, at Donington Park in June 2010.
On January 7, 2011, bassist Phil Kennemore died at the age of 57 after a short battle with lung cancer.
"Summertime Girls" remains as the band's most widely recognized song, along with fan favorites such as "Mean Streak," "Rescue Me," "Forever" to name a few. Music videos for songs such as "Summertime Girls," "Mean Streak," "Lipstick & Leather," "Don't Stop Runnin'," "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," and "Contagious" are still featured videos on VH1 Classic.