Opal formed in the mid-'80s, featuring former Rain Parade guitarist David Roback and former Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith. Initially, the group was called Clay Allison, but the group dropped the name after one single; Roback, Smith, and drummer Keith Mitchell released the remaining Clay Allison tracks under their own name in 1984 on the Fell From the Sun EP. After its release, the group adopted the name Opal and released an EP, Northern Line, in 1985. Happy Nightmare Baby, their first full-length album, followed in 1987. Smith left the group during the Happy Nightmare tour, effectively putting an end to the band. Roback continued with vocalist Hope Sandoval; the group then metamorphosed into Mazzy Star.