Waters didn't stay in the picture very long. The band's first four-track demo, entitled Mental Aquaducts, was recorded with him but soon after he left the band. Otto suggested the group to consider Wes Borland, whom he had gone to school with, for the now vacant position. Otto stated Borland was an artist, but also a very good guitar player. Durst had noticed him playing at clubs and wanted to recruit him. Durst went to Philadelphia, and he instructed the other members to talk to Wes and see if he'd join the band. Wes accepted, and the very night Fred came back to Jacksonville a show was scheduled. Fred and Wes met for the first time, practiced for a half hour, and then went and played the show.
The band continued to play various shows, their most popular venue being at the Milkbar in Jacksonville. In 1995, Fred Durst met members of the band KoRn when they played a show in the Jacksonville area. Durst, a tattoo artist, gave KoRn bassist Reginald Arvizu several tattoos and the two became friends. Durst also gave KoRn the band's first demo tape with Rob Waters, and they shrugged it off as nothing special. But when Wes Borland came into the picture, a second demo was recorded and this time KoRn was impressed. This three song demo included the tracks "Counterfeit", "Stuck", and "Pollution", all of which would end up on Three Dollar Bill, Yall$. Reginald Arvizu passed the demo tape onto Ross Robinson, who produced for KoRn, and was also very impressed. Ross contacted Limp Bizkit, and stated his intent to produce for the band. Also, at a Garbage concert, Durst had met Jordan Schur and played his demo tape for him in Schur's car. He was impressed, and wanted to sign Limp Bizkit to his label, Flip Records. Around this time, the band was booked to tour with the bands Deftones and House of Pain, whose member DJ Lethal later joined Limp Bizkit.
Another major event that shaped the destiny of the band occurred before they were signed. It's not exactly clear when it happened due to conflicting accounts. Apparently it occurred after Wes had quit the band, while the remaining members still wanted to go on without him. The band had gotten an offer from major record label Mojo Records, a subsidiary of MCA. Seeing a greater opportunity with Mojo, the band decided to choose them over the smaller label, Flip. Durst called Schur, and said, regretfully, that he had decided to choose Mojo over Flip. He also said that the band was driving a van to Los Angeles to sign the record deal and that the only way they weren't going to sign was if the van flipped. These words proved to be an omen of sorts. While the group's van was driving through Texas the driver fell asleep at the wheel and the van flipped. It rolled several times before landing on its roof. While everyone managed to escape with only minor injuries, the demeanor of the band changed completely. They took it as a sign and from then on wanted nothing to do with Mojo. Everyone, including Ross Robinson, started calling Borland, trying to get him to come back to the band. Once he came back, Fred called Jordan Schur and pleaded with him, telling him how big of a mistake they had made, and about how the accident was "a sign". It cost Flip $200,000 to buy out the Mojo contracts. When that was done, Limp Bizkit was signed to Flip. Being a small label, Flip entered into a joint venture with Interscope to distribute the band's first album.
Another unique idea the band came up with was the Ladies Night in Cambodia tour. Fred had noticed that mostly young males went to their concerts, and wanted more women to come. So, they came up with the idea to let women get in for free at this tour. The tour was a huge success, and many more women would appear at their later concerts (even though this practice lasted only for the "Cambodia" tour). The set was also fairly original, as it made the stage appear to be a jungle (hence the 'Cambodia').
Along with this episode, controversies involving the band's members began to arise. Durst particularly became involved in feuds with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, the nu metal band Slipknot, Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist Zakk Wylde, physical violence with Creed frontman Scott Stapp, verbal wars with rapper Eminem, and later, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden. In addition, the band Taproot released on their website an answering machine message that Durst had left on the lead singer's phone as "revenge" for ending their record company contract with his record label.
Controversy continued with a death during a 2001 tour of Australia at the Big Day Out festival in Sydney. Teenager Jessica Michalik suffered a heart attack when fans rushed the stage in the mosh pit. It was claimed by security and witnesses that Fred Durst was urging the crowd on in a possibly violent manner, or that he failed to attempt to calm the crowd after the accident. Jessica was announced clinically dead when she was pulled out of the pit by security guards, but regained consciousness after having air pumped into her lungs as well as an epinephrine shot to her heart from paramedics backstage. She was immediately rushed to Sydney's Concord Hospital where she died a few hours later.
Durst provided the courts with testimony. During the hearing he claimed, via a video connection from the U.S., that he had warned the concert's organizers and promoter Vivian Lees of the potential dangers of such minimal security, even going so far as to say Limp Bizkit would “pull out” if the issue wasn't properly addressed. Big Day Out attorneys attempted to pin the blame on Limp Bizkit because the band did not stop playing when they received news of the incident. Although the guitars, drums and bass ceased, DJ Lethal played a quiet computer-generated loop. While admitting that Lethal took it upon himself to play the interlude, Durst claimed that the quiet melody did have a soothing effect on the crowd.
The Coroner's Court decided the band 'could've been more helpful in efforts to aid the girl'. The security practices employed by festival organizers Creative Entertainment Australia bore the brunt of the blame. After viewing videotapes and hearing witness testimony, however, Milledge, the coroner, said it was evident that the density of the crowd was dangerous at the time Limp Bizkit took the stage.
On March 7, 2003, Limp Bizkit announced they would perform live for the first time in two years, at World Wrestling Entertainment's upcoming WrestleMania XIX taking place on March 30. They played "Crack Addict" and "Rollin'" (the Undertaker's theme song) at the show. They also signed up for several live tours, despite their lack of a guitarist. The guitarists for the Wrestlemania tour were later revealed when Durst wrote in a post on the official website: "We are playing Wrestlemania this weekend. On the guitars will be Head from KoRn and Mike Smith from Snot". This live lineup performed the song "Crack Addict", which was rumored to be on their upcoming album, although it was not. The song was later made available for download through their MySpace page.
During this time, Durst spoke of many collaborations with guitarists, with a few rap guests sprinkled in on songs for the album. Among them were Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, Page Hamilton of Helmet, Al Jourgensen of Ministry, and Brian Welch of KoRn as well as Jay-Z, Bubba Sparxxx, and Snoop Dogg. None of the songs with those guitarists would make it onto the album, except "Build a Bridge", which was written with Welch, and "Red Light - Green Light", which featured Snoop Dogg.
For whatever reason, the finalists from the "Put Your Guitar Where Your Mouth Is" contest were rejected in favor of former Snot guitarist Mike Smith. The band also changed its logo to limpbizkit to promote their change of style.
The band had already recorded an album's worth of material for an upcoming release. But with Mike Smith now in the band, it was decided that they would go back in the studio and record another album's worth of songs. The best of these tracks would make it onto the final release. Fred refers to the tracks recorded during this period that didn't make it to the album as the 'Off the Record' tracks, as if it were an album in itself.
On September 23, 2003, Results May Vary, their fourth album and last top ten recording, was released, with about half the songs featuring Mike Smith on guitar and about half having Limp Bizkit's Sam Rivers on guitar. "Build a Bridge" has Brian Welch on guitar. The album was considered a commercial flop, breaking the group's #1 spree on the Billboard 200. It received platinum certification (1 million copies sold) in the United States on 6-3-2008, almost 5 years after it's release. In comparison, their previous work Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water sold one million albums in its first week. Results May Vary appealed more to fans of Fred-written ballads with less of a hard rock emphasis than on previous releases.
On the other hand, the album received generally poor reviews by critics. Although Rolling Stone's review was generally positive, Playlouder called it 'fucking crap', Yahoo! Launch labeled it 'a frightening insight into the vacuous state of 21st century culture', and another review stated that it 'suffered from an utter lack of form and direction.'. Nevertheless, an acoustic cover of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" was a moderate hit on mainstream radio, and its video featured actress Halle Berry. "Eat You Alive" was released as the first single off the album, cracking the top 20 of both American rock charts with an accompanying video that features actress Thora Birch being berated and actor Bill Paxton as her father who is looking for her. The album's ballad "Build a Bridge" was the official theme song of WWE's Survivor Series pay-per-view event in November 2003, although it was never released as an official single due to Mike Smith's departure. Another song from the album, "Almost Over", cracked the Rock Top 40. However it was never released as a single or video.
In 2003, Limp Bizkit toured on the Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003 with Metallica, Linkin Park, Deftones and Mudvayne to promote Metallica's 2003 release, St. Anger. At the tour's stop in Chicago, IL, attendees of the concert threw items at and heckled Durst from the moment he walked on stage. With the crowd chanting "Fuck Fred Durst" and continuing their assault on him, Durst threw the mic down after six songs and walked off stage, but not before heckling the crowd back.
Durst said of Borland's re-entry, "We are very content with Mike being gone. We are the type of people that stay true to our family and our instincts and at any moment will act on intuition as a whole. Mike wasn't the guy. We had fun playing with him, but always knew, in the back of our minds, that he wasn't where we needed him to be mentally." At this stage, they reverted back to the use of their original logo.
The band returned to the studio with producer Ross Robinson, who had worked with them on Three Dollar Bill, Yall$, to create a seven track EP titled The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1). Drummer John Otto was only able to contribute to one track on the album due to personal matters, with Sammy Siegler providing percussion on the remaining tracks. Durst promised fans before its release that it would be a return to the 'rawer, more abrasive style' of their first album.
The compilation album featured two previously unreleased songs, "Why" and "Lean on Me", which were acoustic/metal-based leftovers from Results May Vary, dropped for heavier songs, and a medley of The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" and Mötley Crüe's "Home Sweet Home", which was released to radio but did not receive much airplay. Wes Borland stated that the CD was "a piece of shit and a waste of money."