An Internet chat between Lady Jane Rushmore,
Scott "Dr. Music" Itter, Ray DAriano and Dr. Philip Lombard
Dr. Lombard: Last month New York City Assemblyman, Peter Rivera, introduced a bill in Albany that would allow original doo-wop and oldies groups to seek civil penalties from impostor or fake groups who use their name. What we're talking about are rock and roll phonies passing themselves off as The Shirelles, The Platters, The Drifters etc. who have nothing to do with the authentic acts. Jon Bowman, who played Bowzer in Sha Na Na, said, "Impostor groups are duping consumers and stealing the names, remuneration and legacy of the pioneers of rock and roll." The assemblyman's bill would make it illegal to promote or perform "through the use of false, deceptive or misleading affiliation." Your thoughts please.
Ray D: The sad fact is a lot of the original members of the original doo-wop groups from the 50's are dead. Yet, some of the groups working today have the original lead singer and one or more of the other original members and that's cool. For example, Larry Chance, the original lead singer of The Earls, is still out there and there are a few other guys from the original line up with him. I saw them last month and they were sensational. Another great act is Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge. In addition to John there are three other original guys from The Bridge, a band that was formed almost 40 years ago. In addition to their hits, they perform the hits of The Crests, all of which John sang lead on in the 50's. They are, for my money, the greatest "oldies" act performing today. My point is there's no problem with acts like Larry and The Earls or Johnny and The Bridge even if they don't have every original member. They were and are vocal groups that surrounded great lead singers, and those lead guys are still fronting the acts.
On the other hand I saw "The Coasters" at a country club function and they were younger than me. When I was in high school they were older than me. What's wrong with this picture? It was a good show and most of the audience ate it up. That's all good. What wasn't good was these cats were not The Coasters. They were just some guys doing their act.
Dr. Lombard: Rock and roll never had this problem before because it was a new kind of music. Now that its over 50 years old for the first time ever it has elder statesmen, the Stones, Dylan, and the real early pioneers like Little Richard and Chuck Berry.
Lady Jane: A Peach head e-mailed me an article that was called "Invasion of the Band Snatchers." He was outraged when the writer called The Allman Brothers Band a hodgepodge of session musicians who tour like an oldies act.
That is bullshit of course, and totally shot the author's (Scott Fallon) credibility with me. First off, Greg Allman, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe are all original members of the band. Unfortunately, Duane Allman and Berry Oakley are deceased so they don't make the annual run at The Beacon. I wish they did. Dickey Betts was fired a few years back, million different stories about that. I wish he were back too.
Ok, so three guys from the original group aren't around, but the "the new hardest working man in show biz," the incredible and amazing Warren Haynes along with slide guitar wizard Derek Trucks, and sensational musicians Marc Quinones and Oteil Burbridge are part of the crew. They are a far cry from "a hodgepodge of session musicians." They are actually some of the finest working musicians in the world. If you go to an ABB concert expecting to hear a night of the greatest hits, forget it. They'll do a few favorites, but this ain't no oldies act. They are the premiere jam-rock-blues band in the universe.
Dr. Music: I have not seen them, but I have a good feeling that they are great. I think this writer is way too wrapped up in the past, as well as appearances. "I don't care that Gregg "went Hollywood" and married Cher, or if they paint their guitarist red and have him stand on his head and spit nickels. Do they sound good when they play? The music is all that matters.
Dr. Lombard: If there was ever a group who subscribe to the concept that "the music is all that matters it's the Allman Brothers Band.
Ray D: I can't knock Greg for being married to Cher for a week back in the 70's. I don't think he went Hollywood for hooking up with a then really hot babe.
Dr. Lombard: She was that, but lets stay on topic. The author does raise some interesting questions about famous groups who, for one reason or another, replace members of the original lineup. He writes, "Some are complete facsimiles, the equivalent of a tribute band. Others have gone forward without key members either by choice or tragedy."
For example, this summer Todd Rudgren is going out in place of Ric Ocasek as front man for The New Cars. Fallon doesn't buy it. He writes, "Ocasek was the Cars."
Lady Jane: I agree. What the hell were they smoking . . . uh, thinking? This is like putting John Mellencamp in front of Black Sabbath or Brittany Spears with Nashville Pussy. Actually that might be interesting. If Todd decided to do an album of Cars material and used original members of the band as his backup, it may have been very cool. It would even be cool if he toured behind it with those musicians but sorry, Todd and those guys (who are they anyway? Is Rick Orr still around? Is that his name?) are not the Cars. I know, they're calling themselves the New Cars, but that's bullshit. Why not team up Ringo and Billy Preston with Todd and calling the band The New Beatles? It's ridiculous, but the funny thing is, people would buy tickets.
Dr. Music: I don't know... Maybe I try to hang on to a good thing too long, but I think a lot of these reunion-type things are great. Rundgren is somewhat of a genius, and I'm looking forward to seeing him front The Cars when they come to the "wine-and-cheese" venue called Ravinia by me. I see it this way, they're not missing Ocasek's songwriting skill because they're not writing any more tunes! They have a great catalog to work off of already. Secondly, I think Rundgren will do a great job with the tunes. Ocasek was not THAT distinct, and I think Rundgren has a similar sound.
Ray D: Not being a big fan of either I really have no interest, which is interesting because it seems to me only the super fan of a particular group or artist would care about replacements. The rest of us wouldn't attend a show and if somehow we did, without knowing the personnel of the band, we'd just judge them by how good or bad they were.
Dr. Lombard: In the article Mr.Fallon writes, "Few in rock had the pipes quite like Freddie Mercury's.' Your thoughts.
Lady Jane: I agree, but the fact is, Freddie was more than a great singer, he was one of the top two front men of all time. Mercury cannot be replaced . . . period. His band mates (only two of them by the way) and Paul Rodgers are a joke and a disgrace calling themselves Queen. They are not Queen. They are two guys from Queen, one cat from Bad Company and a few other musicians. If they went out under a new name, like oh I don't know, The Firm maybe or whatever, and did new material with a few Queen/Bad Company tunes thrown in at the encore, it would have been very cool, but what they did . . . inexcusable.
Dr. Music: Brian May is a guitar master. I saw him just after Freddie died on a solo tour, and he was phenomenal. He sang all the Queen stuff himself at that show, and he was great. Cozy Powell, just before he died, was on drums, Neil Murray on bass... Nobody seemed to be bothered that he was doing Queen stuff. As a matter of fact, that's why we all came to that show. Now he's doing the same thing, just with another original Queen member, and one of the best singers to ever grace the planet Earth. I know of a great many people that have seen this show, and they all rave about it. And they all paid through the nose to be there too. All of them have said that Rodgers was great, mostly because he was not trying to do a Freddie impression. This guy has a different tone than Freddie had, but he's just as much (maybe more) of a pure singer as Freddie was.
Lady Jane: Point is, you can replace some members of a band and keep on chooglin', but there are other key members that cannot be replaced. The Stones got along fine without Brian Jones and they didn't miss a beat without Bill Wyman, but could they keep on rolling without Keith? That is doubtful, but there is absolutely no way they could continue as The Rolling Stones without Mick. Such is the case of The Doors with Ian Astbury in the Jim Morrison role. If Ray Manzarek, who was very much a Door, wants to go out with Ian and do a tribute to The Doors no problem, great idea in fact, but don't try and say you are The Doors. You are two Doors and some other guys. If you had never broken up and the 2006 lineup was the groups' natural evolution it would be a different story.
Dr. Music: Morrison is one of my heroes. I loved his vibe, I loved his voice, I loved The Doors. Ian Astbury is a GREAT singer. A singer very worthy of fronting The Doors. He is not trying to be Morrison. He's trying to keep the songs of The Doors alive for all of us to keep enjoying (and making money is good too!), and I think he's more than worthy. I've heard his stuff on the tribute album, and I wish I would've caught him when they came around.
Dr. Lombard: Then there's The Temptations and The Beach Boys. When Fallon mentioned The Temps he writes, "And then there was one."
Ray D: It's true, Otis Williams is the only original, but this group never broke up and even though there have been over 20 guys who have been members of the group in over 40 years, this is how they evolved.
The first guy to leave, Paul Williams, died. He was replaced. David Ruffin left. He was replaced and so it went for 4 decades. The current lineup, as all that went before, is excellent. Not only do they recreate the hits, sounding just like the classic recordings, but they also continue the amazing stage shows that are The Temptations tradition. I have no problem with this act continuing to do the things they do, and I salute Otis for keeping it alive.
Dr. Music: Ahh well, he may be right on this one. I haven't heard any of the newer versions of the group, but there comes a time when you start to replace too many original members, and you become a "tribute" band that does covers. This is one of those situations. That doesn't mean that this "tribute" band isn't great though!
Lady Jane: Like The Beach Boys. This is a similar story. Here's the deal: Carl and Dennis Wilson died. Brian Wilson and Al Jardine quit. Mike Love and Bruce Johnston decided to keep the summer alive and keep the tradition going. Guess what? They are great. The songs sound fantastic and the spirit of The Beach Boys lives on. And why not? Mike is the lead singer on many of their biggest hits. This has been his occupation since he was a teenager. What's he supposed to do, end the group and open up a Lexus dealership?
It cracks me up when the so-called purists give Mike and Bruce shit for keeping it going, but have no problem with Brian going out with his own backup group doing Beach Boys stuff. He wrote the tunes they cry! Well like it or not, check out the credits on say "Good Vibrations" and you'll see that it was co-written by a Mr. Mike Love. Like the Temptations, The Beach Boys never broke up and reformed with new guys. The new guys replaced the original guys when they left. Surfs up!
Dr. Music: This is kind of a cross between The Cars and The Temptations. There is only one member of the band left, but he has the signature sound. They really don't need the great songwriting of Brian Wilson; he left more than enough behind to choose from. I'm kind of torn on this one, but it might be time for Love to hang it up. Not to mention the guy is wacko.
Ray D: Agreed, but isn't being wacko part of the job description? And if Love's a wacko what does that make Brian? Genius, ahhh if you say so, but certifiable for sure!
Dr. Lombard: Wacko? How about Alice Cooper, Dylan&
Lady Jane: Ozzy!
Ray D: Jerry Lee Lewis, Frank Zappa&.
Dr. Lombard: Keith Moon, Emenim, Courtney Love&
Lady Jane: Rick James, Axl Rose&
Dr. Lombard: Speaking of Mr. Rose. How do Guns N' Roses fit into all this?
Dr. Music: I didn't like the original band, so I should just shut up about this one.
Lady Jane: The one unique band in this whole thing is Guns N' Roses. I don't know how Axl pulls this one off. It's him and a new band, but they are called Guns N' Roses. Aside from them here's the deal, people die and other people leave bands. The band has every right to continue. Some pull it off, others don't. It's that simple. You can't lump them all together. You have to judge them one act at a time. Years ago I loved it when Kiss unmasked and it wasn't even the real original four guys. I also thought it was a good idea that once The Beatles broke up they never reformed with Julian or anybody. They just let it be. And has Jethro Tull ever consisted of the same group of musicians from one album to the next?
Ray D: It's all rock and roll people. Remember, no rules. I do not subscribe to the asinine concept that just because a band loses a member or two that they should break up. As long as you sound like you should sound and put on a first class show for the money paying audience I say good for you. Carry on my wayward son and rock the F on!
Dr. Lombard: That about says it all. Lets adjourn to the bar.
Printable version | Back to Features | e-mail this article