The band released their first album entitled The Fourth World in 1997 as high school seniors. That same year the band appeared on an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210. The band played its first gig at Whisky a Go Go on September 16, 1995. While they were playing a beach party in Malibu, indie producer Tommy Allen heard them playing and offered to manage them and record a complete record with his partner, songwriter John DeNicola (Dirty Dancing), which eventually led to their deal with Reprise Records.
Despite high expectations from the band and record company, the album had little success, and its only single, "Soap Disco," failed commercially. Disappointed with the results of their album, the band went on hiatus and went their separate ways.
Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael left Los Angeles to study at Five Towns College, a small music and performing arts school in Dix Hills, Long Island, New York, a radical change from LA. On MTV News, in 2002, Levine said, "That's when I started waking up to the whole hip hop, R&B thing... It was not Brentwood High."
Jordan Felstein, a friend of Levine's family and a junior agent at ICM, stopped by one of the band's rehearsals and was so surprised by what he heard that he quit his job in order to manage the band full time.
The band put together a demo that was rejected by several labels, before falling into the hands of Octone Records executives James Diener, Ben Berkman and David Boxenbaum. While looking for talent for the new Octone label, Berkman was given a bunch of demos by the brother of a former colleague at Columbia Records and the song that caught his attention was the song "'Sunday Morning."
Berkman was surprised the song was credited to Kara's Flowers because they sounded completely different to the band he had heard while at Warner Brothers.
Berkman encouraged Diener and Boxenbaum to fly out to L.A. to watch a showcase gig at the Viper Room for Kara's Flowers. Berkman told HitQuarters he believed what the band needed was a "fifth member to play the guitar and free up Levine as the singer. Octone also insisted that the band change its name to break with its pop-rock past.
James Valentine (from the L.A. band Square) was recruited for the job. Even still, the only songs of their repertoire that showcased the band's new direction were "Sunday Morning" and the soon-to-be-written "She Will Be Loved"—neither of which the label approved of as a first single. The band toured for a full year before entering the studio. Levine's frustration with Berkman's demands for a lead single inspired him to write just that—a song called "Harder to Breathe."
"Harder to Breathe" slowly started to pick up airplay which helped spur sales of the album. By March 2004, the album had reached the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 and "Harder to Breathe" had made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts.
The album peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 in September 2004, 26 months after its release; this was the longest period between an album's release and its initial Top 10 appearance since SoundScan results were included in the Billboard 200 in 1991.
Songs About Jane eventually reached #2 on the Australian albums charts, while "Harder to Breathe" made the Top 20 singles charts in the U.S. and U.K. The album also eventually climbed to #1 in the U.K. The second single, "This Love," reached #5 in the US, #3 in the UK, and #8 in Australia. The third single, "She Will Be Loved," reached the Top 5 in both the U.S. and the UK, and went to #1 in Australia. The fourth single, "Sunday Morning," reached the Top 40 in the US, UK, and Australia.
Over the next year, he co-wrote the track "Say It Again" on Natasha Bedingfield's album N.B.. He also performed the background vocals on this song. Most recently, Levine offered his talents on K'naan's newest album "Troubadour" in the song "Bang Bang."
Maroon 5's third studio album was recorded in 2009 in Switzerland.
He performed "Moves Like Jagger" on "The Voice, along with Christina Aguilera in May, 2011.
Levine has stated that he believes the band is reaching its peak and may make one more album before disbanding. The group has been nominated for a number of Grammy Awards. In 2005 the group won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The next year Grammy Award they won for Best Pop Performance by A Duo or Group With Vocals "This Love," and in 2007 for "Makes Me Wonder."