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Friday, March 24, 2006

To Tour or Not to Tour?

I've been thinking a lot about the relevance and existence of bands that tour after key members have quit or died. Leading up to the Queen + Paul Rodgers show I encountered quite a lot of folks who were downright angry that anyone would DARE go out and tour, claiming any sort of identity to Queen. In some eyes, Queen can't exist without Freddie Mercury and even the presence of one of rock's all-time greatest voices cannot justify the ticket price, no matter how reasonable the price or how fine the show.

I've come to the sound conclusion that when asked the question, "To tour or not to tour?", the choice must simply be left to the band. When a member of the group dies or differences cause someone to leave it is solely up to the band to dictate to us, how they proceed. Our responsibility lies only within the right to buy or not buy the product. Any other judgment is just us being greedy for more or petty for not getting what we want.

If the remaining members of Queen, who have been very consistently providing high-quality product for their fans, and performing live for tributes, benefits, and other shows (all with different singers) since the death of Mercury want to go out on the road then who are we to complain? These people love to play together and created something special and enduring in music history. If heading to the States with Paul Rodgers makes them feel better to be alive then so be it. If people don't want to go they won't buy a ticket.

After watching this show in particular and reflecting upon the previous non-Mercury performances, it has become obvious to me that the remaining members of Queen went to painstaking measures to carefully select a suitable substitute. They knew that they needed a man with the street cred to front an arena rock band. Some one with a powerful voice and comparable range, yet a distinctive style and persona would be a must. There are not many people more perfectly suited for this task as Paul Rodgers. Believe me, the next best choice, George Michael, would NOT have gone over well with anyone for more than a few songs.

I learned that Queen is in the Guinness Book for having the longest continuously running fan club for a group. In all their years, particularly those after Freddie's death, they have put on yearly conventions, made themselves available to fans, put out regularly printed, full color magazines, and much Like Pink Floyd, have released excellent products that are faithful to the fans and mindful of the history behind the group. Queen has never done anything like this recent endeavor and aside from asking the fans to continually provide support, they have never asked for anything in return. Now, they are asking the fans to let them be Queen again. They found a way to make it happen and they just want to do what they have always done best. Who else but the remaining members of Queen are playing these epic and wonderful songs?

The Grateful Dead lost Jerry Garcia and he was not even the first member of the band to die. They CHOSE not to continue out of respect for Jerry. You can't tell me that the vast majority of Deadheads would have actually stopped traveling and gotten jobs if the band decided to play on. This choice by the Dead is no more noble or correct than any other band's choices to go on and play. I always thought stopping the Dead was a huge mistake. To put a stop to this bullshit mystical journey the Dead cultivated all those years just because someone died? Foolish. Sure it's a given that The Jerry Garcia Band wouldn't tour again, but the Dead? Com on!
Wait, didn't the Glenn Miller Orchestra go on without a living Glenn Miller? OK, The Jerry Garcia Band still has a shot.

I certainly feel the pain of Deep Purple fans. That band has had more line-up changes than a baseball team, but that isn't what has killed the fan base. The fact that EVERY tour Deep Purple has ever staged gets canceled about halfway through. Apparently complete roster switches can't combat chronic egotist syndrome.

The Who caught a lot of flack for replacing Keith Moon, and today are taken to task for going on without John Entwhistle. However, Pete Townshend had the perfect line back when Kenny Jones took over for moon. To paraphrase, Townshend said that The Who was "my fucking band" and he'll put whomever he wants on stage and call it whatever the hell he wants. You can't really argue the point. At least with The Who, the fans did certainly get the best end of the deal with regard to surviving members.

Moreover, there are many success stories about bands that have moved on.

Had AC/DC not searched out a new lead singer we'd have never gotten the Back in Black album or any of the other AWESOME records.

While I prefer the David Lee Roth VanHalen, it is hard to argue that the Sammy Hagar version didn't provide great music, profitable & memorable concerts, and millions of fans with some satisfaction. Personally I feel sorry for Gary Cherone as he was an excellent choice and a good fit for the group. Ah well.

There have been well over 40 members of Santana and nobody has bitched about the change in line-up, even when they had a very NON-Santana hit like, "I'm Winning", Carlos and his gang provided goods that were appropriate for the fans.

The Rolling Stones have had members die, members quit, and members suddenly develop a fear of flying for fuck's sake, and yet 4 blokes tour the world to the delight of many. The prices keep going up and the fans keep showing up. Shit, Ron Wood is "the new guy" and he's been with them for 30 years! I don't see anyone bitching.

Genesis excelled after Peter Gabriel left and Phil Collins took over. They tanked after Collins left, as if somehow the fans were cheated. Strange.

Eagles came back sans Randy Meisner, but everyone rejoiced. A few years later they emerged again sans Meisner and the PIVOTAL Don Felder (a travesty in my book), but still ticket sales did not suffer. Why do some get a pass and others get the shaft?

Oddly enough everyone wants a Led Zeppelin reunion, but respects the fact that the band doesn't want to go out as Zeppelin without Bonham. What's even more strange is that the fans clamor to see Plant & Paige perform nothing but Zeppelin tunes together even though they have never invited John Paul Jones to tour with them. CAN'T they have all the surviving original members of the band play the Zeppelin catalogue and NOT call themselves Led Zeppelin? I guess the line-up really doesn't matter.

There are certainly times when the show must not go on. I can't imagine that too many people REALLY enjoyed seeing The Doors 2000 or Guns & Roses (sans everyone but Axl Rose), but it is certainly within the rights of whomever owns the name and the music to go out and play their tunes.

I'm starting to think that if thought and care has been taken by the band to carry on in a positive way, then by all means, let the band play on. As always I can choose not to,listen. I've decided that unless you are flagrantly shitting on the fans they should go ahead and ply their trade. Besides, if you are a true fan of a group you are something of a hypocrite if you don't at least give the band a listen.

If you truly love the band and are a fan of THE BAND then you're being extremely disrespectful to the surviving members to imply that the only reason the band worked was because of the efforts of a single person. In the case of Queen, this was a true family in the form of a band. All members had a hand in creating the music, the stagecraft, and the experience. To act as though the band is gone and less significant really pisses in the faces of the guys standing there who not only made it happen, but want to bring it to you again.

Really I'd have been more upset if Freddie Mercury survived, went out as Queen and Brian May wasn't with the band. Could you imagine Queen songs with some other guitar player? Probably not. I mean they'd have done fine. Aerosmith did for a spell and KISS rarely has all of the original line-up playing anymore, yet the fans still show up.

Anyway, let Queen, Journey, the Cars, INXS, and anyone else go out and have their fun. Take a listen and decide for yourself if it is worth listening to and watching. Just don't be so self righteous and indignant and DON'T form an opinion without hearing your favorite bands state their case first. Believe me, if they don't have it to go and are embarrassing themselves, they'll get the hint sooner or later.

Wait a minute! Bass player John Deacon wasn't with the band. Queen without John Deacon. Fuck all this. I was totally wrong. They SUCK!


Anonymous E.P. said...

Believe it or not, the Jerry Garcia Band IS actually still touring....

I shit you not. Check this out:

12:41 PM

Blogger sue said...

I think we got your point... and it was a good one!

2:23 AM

Blogger curmudgeon said...

There are purists who don't think 'the band' is 'the band' without the entire original lineup.
I saw phukkem. If you like the songs, then go listen to them. Someone took the time to learn how to play those songs and even though it may not be the same person playing them, they're still the saem songs.

Back to Van Halen, who knows? You may even hear a new song you like.
I can't say which I like better. Diamond Dave or Sammy. I think they both do an exellent job, and the band made good music with both of them. Cherone on the other hand, for whatever the reasons - lack of inspiration, talent, whatever - I didn't care for him.

On the other side of the coin, I love it when members of various bands get together and diddle a little. Traveling Wilburys, Damn Yankees, Power Station, ... that sort of shit. There always seems to be a unique sound come out of that combination.

1:24 PM

Blogger The Brake Man said...

Great Blog.

I totally agree with you, Don Felder leaving the Eagles was a travesty, in my view he was a far better guitar player than Joe Walsh.

I went to see the Eagles in 2004 in the UK without Don Felder, although the show was fantastic, I still felt the gap could not be plug.

I also saw them in 1979 when Hotel California was a top ten Album, the line up included R Meinser and the Joe Walsh, the best Gig ever in the 70's

No one will ever replace Felder

10:57 AM

Blogger Andy Land said...

Well, you'll never hear me say that Felder is a better guitar player than Joe Walsh, but that's because I'ma MONSTER Walsh fan. lol.

However, Don Felder is a major unsung hero of rock music and he, along with Walsh gave that shitty country band some much needed rock edge & credibility, in my humble opinion.

Glad you stopped by. Please come again. There's lots of stuff around these parts. I'll check out your blogs today. Maybe we can do a link exchange.

11:22 AM


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