Thursday, March 5, 2015

What's In A Name?

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change ...
The courage to change the things I can ...
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Isn't that sorta how it goes?
I guess I'm just going to have to adapt to the times.
For all of Bowzer's original best intentions and valiant efforts to pass the Truth In Music Act into law in numerous states, loyal fans are still routinely deceived when buying tickets to see some of their favorite acts in concert.  And it's some of these very loopholes provided by this regulation that makes the area grayer and grayer.
(Don't get me wrong ... The Truth In Music Law was a necessary and noble effort to eliminate some of the riff-raff that were filling stages across the country claiming to be somebody they really weren't, thus duping the unsuspecting public in the process, who were shelling out their hard-earned cash to see somebody they THOUGHT was the "real deal" ... but the criteria as it currently stands ... requiring just one original member to be on board ... regardless of who or how significant that member may have been ... or simply granting the legal rights to a particular name in what often degenerates into an auction to the highest bidder ... has warranted a deeper look into how to better streamline the process ... for many of the reasons outlined below.)
We've covered it all before ... SO many times in Forgotten Hits ... and now with more and more of our favorite artists from this era passing away, it's become virtually impossible to continue on with the true integrity of the original group or artist.
It seems that rarely a week goes by when we don't get a new announcement ... come see Kansas' new lead singer ... Mick Jones has assembled a brand new line-up of Foreigner (even though he ... nor any of the original members ... will be participating) ... the recent furor over The Little River Band ... comments from our readers about Paul Revere's Raiders (carrying on Paul's wishes after his death, some of these guys were with Revere for 30-40 years!) ... The Grass Roots (carrying on as the band was "bequeathed" to the current line-up after Rob Grill's death) ... only certain member of Kiss being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, despite the fact that OTHER members have now been with the band longer than its original incarnation ... Queen, first with Paul Rodgers (which really made NO sense at all) and now with Adam Lambert who, probably better than ANY performer I've ever seen, best channels the energy and spirit of Freddie Mercury ... but still isn't Freddie.  (Freddie's dead ... that's what I said) ... two camps of Temptations ... one led by Otis Williams, an original (who never sang a lead) and one led by Dennis Edwards, who sang lead vocals on any number of their biggest hits ... but didn't join the group until 1968.  (With all the other original members dead and gone, we can accept Otis putting together an entire new group of vocalists to best emulate the sound of his landmark group ... but truly all this is is a TRIBUTE to the music of The Temptations ... yet Otis' version is considered to be the "definitive" version of The Temptations, purely by his association.  Dennis Edwards ... who actually sang some of the group's biggest hits ... has to bill his act as The Temptations Revue.)
And maybe for most music fans that's enough.  Maybe for MOST people attending these concerts, that's really all they're there to hear and see ... the songs they love ... the songs they grew up loving ... and, as such, we should support ANY efforts to help keep this music alive.
The other day we told you about the big ruling regarding The Platters ... who FINALLY (after nearly a FIFTY YEAR COURT BATTLE) secured the rights back to their own name for the estate of Herb Reed  (and promptly released a brand new CD).  During that time as many as a DOZEN different "versions" of The Platters might be performing all over the country, NONE of them with the legal rights to the name, ALL of them depriving the REAL members from income because some unsuspecting promoter didn't know enough ... or CARE enough ... to check out the facts.
Fans have the choice to go and see "The Guess Who" featuring the drummer and the bassist and a guy doing his best to SOUND like Burton Cummings ... OR you can go see Burton Cummings, the guy who actually wrote and sang all of The Guess Who's hits ... yet BOTH draw a crowd.
We recently covered Creedence Clearwater Revisited ... same situation ... do you want to go see the "rhythm section" of original members Stu Cook on bass and Doug Clifford on drums with a John Fogerty sound-alike singing the leads ... or go see John Fogerty ... the guy who wrote and sang the hits.
Original members Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna have performed as The Buckinghams for nearly thirty years without original lead singer Dennis Tufano ... and are booked solidly all over the globe on a regular basis.  They have done their best to forge a new identity for the band and, in this case, it is clearly working ... but Dennis Tufano still makes singing appearances as well, again leaving fans the choice as to who they'd rather hear sing the hits.
In England, "Herman's Hermits" is led by Barry Whitwam, the drummer (who didn't even play on all of the recording sessions ... a good percentage of the time, they brought in a studio drummer to play on the records).  Here in The States, you get the real deal ... Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone, the REAL "Herman" on all the hit records, sounding just as good as ever and entertaining as can be.
The list goes on and on and on ... and we find it on EVERY level with "new" acts popping up all the time ... and, quite frankly, it's worn us out!
Maybe it's time for me to just wave the white flag ... we can't stop it ... and let's face it ... what do you do about it once these artists permanently leave us?  I suppose now that he's gone, I can go out as "Dan Fogelberg", right???  The name's not being used ... and as long as I play Dan's music and faithfully reproduce those sounds, and loving show my respect for his music, fans should be satisfied, right?
I'm sorry but for me it doesn't work that way.  I want to KNOW what I'm getting when I pay my money for a concert seat.  But the feeling I get is that most people don't care ... they just want to be entertained ... they just want to relive the moment.  As long as the group remains true and respectful to the artist in question, they can walk away feeling like they had a good time.
This is why so many "copy bands" are thriving right now.  You're not going to see the REAL Led Zeppelin again anytime soon ... so Led Zeppelin bands, Beatles bands, "The Australian Bee Gees" and the like regularly fill up theaters.  Even bands who ARE still touring have to compete with bands who try to sound like Steely Dan or The Eagles or Journey.  (Heck, even Journey doesn't sound like Journey anymore now that Steve Perry is gone ... so what's the difference?!?!?)
I can only suggest what I ALWAYS suggest ... buyer beware.  KNOW ahead of time what you're paying to see ... and really, if it's just the music you want to hear, then I say go for it and have a good time.  WE can't stop it ... and frankly, I'm tired of trying to deal with it.
On a related note, I got an angry email from some guy named B. Conover, and folks, I can only tell you that he's SERIOUS ... and he's pissed ... and I KNOW that he's serious and pissed because he has sent me the exact same email at least four or five times now.
B. Conover is unhappy with the way I covered the recent Little River Band fiasco as it relates to their scheduled (then cancelled) appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon ... and the "pot shots" he feels I took toward Wayne Rogers, et al, about their rightful ties to the band.
But apparently he hasn't read all of my PREVIOUS and subsequent pieces on this because many of the things he's unhappy about have already been explained and addressed in our forum.
Tomorrow in Forgotten Hits we'll run his email, verbatim, along with a published statement by current Little River Band lead vocalist and front man Wayne Nelson about life in the LRB for the past thirty years.  
Wayne raises some interesting and valid points ... so please take the opportunity to hear BOTH sides of the story ... tomorrow in Forgotten Hits.