June 28, 2024

What is the Difference? Featured

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Maybe because of the escalating concert ticket prices, there is a real demand on the part of concert goers to see “tribute” or “cover” bands. Some of these bands are so good the average listener doesn’t notice the difference.

Some would say there is no difference. When was the last time you saw a band with all the original members? If you go to see Kansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Yes, Heart, Thin Lizzy, The Hollies, or Canned Heat, you will not see ANY original members.

So again, what is the difference? Where is the dividing line between these groups that are virtually an entirely different band than the ones that had the original hits and a “cover” or Tribute” band?

Those going to see The Rolling Stones in concert will only see two of the original members of the group. They can get away with it because the two remaining members are the main attraction. The rest of the band may not be original, but they are still exceptional.

If they can call themselves The Rolling Stones, why can’t Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr get two other band mates and go out on tour as The Beatles? The answer is star power.

The Beatles could never be The Beatles without John Lennon and George Harrison. Their star power is what made them the “Fab Four” and that can never be matched. In the case of the Stones, while the other members of the group doing their history were important, they were not the main attraction. As good as Charlie Watts, Brian Jones or Bill Wyman were, they were not the reason fans went to see their concerts.

There have been attempts by groups to carry on after losing their star power, but most didn’t come close to maintaining their status as a premier attraction. The Doors were a great band, but once Morison died, there was no matching their previous accomplishments. They are just one example. There are many groups that still perform to this day who are very good or even great, but they suffer from fans discounting them because they don’t have that star power.

Queen has tried to carry on with Freddie Mercury, but despite the abundance of talent that remained in the band, the best they have been able to do is draw crowds at a concert.

Ten Years After were one of the best live groups ever assembled. Their performances were truly electric. They stole the show at Woodstock and packed concert halls until Alvin Lee decided to go solo.

Even though Alvin was the center of attention in Ten Years After, he was unable to equal the success that the group had. The rest of the band members were unable to match that level without him.

Sometimes fans just can’t accept change. Recently a new Ten Years After emerged and their musical abilities shone brightly. They put out an exceptional album recently called A STING IN THE TALE. While it sold a fair amount, it was still met with those who didn’t even want to listen to it because Alvin, now dead, wasn’t in the band. Never mind that their current lead singer and guitarist is great.

Last year The Guess Who put out one of the best albums of the year entitled PLEIN D‘AMOUR. Despite the high quality of the album, it went largely unnoticed by critics and fans. They may have been better off changing their name and starting over. That is especially true since some of the original members of The Guess Who tried to sue them for using the name. A truly great album got lost in the shuffle.

So why not change the name and start anew? Because starting from scratch these days is much harder. Even though the name may not draw the big crowds like they used to, it is still much better than trying to establish a new act.

Are the fans getting ripped off by these groups that don’t have many original members or even no original members? It depends. In some cases, the quality of the performance is either good or better. While Heart doesn’t have any original members, it is the Wilson Sisters that they come to see. Is the quality of entertainment better than a tribute band when you go to see Kansas, Yes or Lynyrd Skynyrd? You must be the judge.

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Otto Greenleaf Monday, July 8, 2024 posted by Otto Greenleaf

    I used to be skeptical towards tribute bands. Now I love them. I've seen Styx a few times in the past couple years and I thought they were great both times. One artist who doesn't face the "no original members left" scrutiny: Santana.

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