STAR Visits The Coolest Neighborhood in America
By: Chris Wilson
March 24, 1998
Teenybopper heart-throbs Hanson --- the blond brothers who have MMMBopped their way to the top of the music charts --- still live in a modest three-bedroom home in Tulsa, Okla.
They love to rollerblade and climb into the tree house in the backyard. "They're the same as they've always been," next-door neighbor Harrison Coffman tells STAR.
"They're the nicest kids you'd ever want to meet, and they still play Lazer Tag, paintball and rollerblade around Tulsa whenever they're in town.
"A lot of people are surprised they haven't moved to a bigger house since they became famous. I know they've been thinking about getting a bigger place, but this is their home. Just because they've become successful, their lives don't have to change."
Neighbors of the superhot trio --- they were nominated for three Grammys --- say young fans often gather in front of the Hanson home hoping to catch a glimpse of their idols.
The boys' parents, Diana and Walker Hanson, have circled the house with "No Trespassing" signs --- but that doesn't keep carloads of followers from stopping to gawk.
"For the most part the fans are really respectful," says Coffman. "Sometimes we'll have to go out there and explain that they don't give autographs at home, but the guys don't mind if they drive by."
Before Isaac, 17, Taylor, 15, and Zac, 12, exploded onto the music scene last year with their smash single MMMBop, they spent long hours jamming in their garage and being home-schooled by their mom.
But when the boys were finished studying and doing chores, they loved to romp through the neighborhood like the other kids.
"They used to play in the woods behind their house, sled down the street during winter and go swimming in their neighbor's pool in the summertime," says a pal. "And almost every day you'd hear them singing, banging on drums and playing guitars in their garage."
Hanson, which is kicking off a long-awaited world tour in Tulsa next month, started performing without instruments in the early '90's at barbecues, elementary schools, picnics and local music festivals.
Tom Dittus, owner of the Blue Rose Cafe, remembers letting the pre-adolescent popsters play in his parking lot because they were too young to sing inside.
"I took some ribbing for booking little kids, but when they started playing, the crowd on my patio just loved it," says Dittus. "It was amazing that they could sing together that well. Now I'm thrilled they've become so big. Not only are they talented, but they're so down to earth and cool. They're just good people."
The boys' passion for pop was ignited in the late '80's during a year-long stay in South America, where their dad worked for an oil company.
He and Diana ordered a collection of rock hits from the '50s and '60s so their kids could listen to rock 'n' roll in the land of salsa and samba.
By the time the clan returned to Tulsa, the townheaded trio were harmonizing together and writing doowop songs about puppy love, family life and their Christian faith.
"Instead of doing our chores, we usually spent the time writing a new song," says drummer Zac. "They'd say, 'This better be good,' and give us a chance to sing it. Then, of course, we'd still have to do the dishes!"
They signed with a manager in 1994 but success didn't come easily.
Fourteen record labels turned them down before they started playing instruments and recorded a fresh batch of rock songs, including an early version of MMMBop.
Their lives were turned upside down last year when their album Middle of Nowhere was released on Mercury Records. MMMBop, the first single, instantly shot to No. 1 in th U.S. and 23 other countries.
The bouncy tune transformed the kids into a pop powerhouse that has sold a whopping 11 million albums worldwide.
Now, thousands of screaming girls mob the band at appearances. Their screams were measured at a deafening 140 decibels at a recent appearance in Canada --- prompting the band to wear earplugs on stage.
Hanson has been interviewed on nearly every talk show, their cherubic faces have been splashed across dozens of teen magazine covers, and three biographies have made the New York Times best-seller list.
But for the brothers, fame continues to be a family affair. Wherever they go, their parents and four younger siblings go with them.
"Everything has happened so fast but they're taking it all really well," says Coffman. "They know that it could all be taken away tomorrow, and they're just out there playing music and enjoying themselves.
"They call me up while they're doing interviews in New York and say, 'We met Aerosmith today!' or 'We met Cindy Crawford!' "
Now the flaxen-haired threesome are getting ready to launch a North American tour on April 14 --- and planning to tour around the globe after that, sources reveal.
"Yeah," says Isaac. "We're definitely looking forward to touring. To get back out there and do a show every night will be a very cool experience again for us. Because you know, that's what it's all about!"
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