Thursday, July 20, 2017

The W

Last night the Jimmy Fallon show had The Who.  Well, that's what Jimmy called them.  Actually, it was Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.  Needless to say, John Entwistle and Keith Moon couldn't make it.

They sang one of my favorite Who tunes, "I Can See For Miles." There were other musicians, but no one cared who they were.

So is it fair to call them The Who?  I mean, if they had Paul and Ringo do a song, would anyone call it The Beatles?

I suppose there's a difference. It's easy enough to argue Roger and Pete are the two main members of the band--its voice and its songwriter.

But still, what if it had worked out that John and Paul were the only Beatles left?  If they performed, it would be an amazing thing, but I can't imagine anyone would call it The Beatles, even if they did Beatle favorites.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Wasn't Kenney Jones available? He may not be Keith Moon, but he was still a darn competent drummer.

At least Daltrey and Townsend get along these days!

Last year, I saw Yes, which includes longtime members Steve Howe (guitar), Alan White (drummer -- but he was sick and not there), occasional member Geoff Downs (keyboards), and a new bassist and singer.

A couple weeks later, the rival band Yes Featuring Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman was playing at the same venue, featuring Jon Anderson (who sang on almost every Yes album), Rick Wakeman (their on-again off-again keyboardist), Trevor Rabin (who played guitar on three non-memorable 1980s and 1990s albums), and a bassist and drummer who didn't even get billing.

In interviews, they don't seem to like each other very much. Jon Anderson even compared Howe's Yes to a "tribute band".

Some of my favorite YouTube videos are rockers badmouthing their former bandmembers. Here are the Van Halen brothers trash-taking David Lee Roth.

2:22 PM, July 20, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I don't know if there's any rule of thumb regarding how many members you need to still call it the same band, but I would think if you're missing 50%, then you've got a problem.

With The Beatles, each was so essential (even Ringo), missing just one meant it wasn't them. The Who was also four distinct individuals. I suppose you could get away with calling them The Who when they had Kenney Jones, but when they lost Entwistle, that was the end.

2:47 PM, July 20, 2017  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

I think your Beatles analogy has a flaw. The Beatles always had the same four people. (Sure, everyone knows who Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best were, but they were gone before the Beatles began recording. They're as relevant as Adam's first wife Lilith.) If the Beatles hadn't broken up, it's hard to imagine them changing members.

But the Who did replace Moon, and released two albums with Baker which did very well. Face Dances and It's Hard aren't their best, but that's because people compare them to their early stuff. If they are compared to the last two albums with Moon, they hold up pretty well. "You Better You Bet" is certainly the best song off of the Who's final four albums (two with Moon, two with Baker -- I don't count Endless Wire).

Once you replace a key member and the fans accept this, then that opens the door to more and more changes. The most extreme example is Jefferson Airplane / Jefferson Starship / Starship, which eventually had no members in common with its earliest version.

2:52 PM, July 20, 2017  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Your 50% rule seems reasonable, but it would eliminate Fleetwood Mac, who became superstars with a band that only had two-out-of-five members in common with the original band.

Your point about the Who being "four distinct individuals" is a very important point. When you think of the Beatles, you immediately think of their faces and personalities. Other bands -- e.g., Pink Floyd -- tend to be faceless.

Still, the Rolling Stones are certainly not a faceless band, but I think that they could get away with replacing everyone except Mick and Keith and nobodoy would complain.

3:00 PM, July 20, 2017  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

On Face Dances, Entwhistle has a song that begins "Everybody calls me the quiet one." I knew what he meant. So even though I'm not a huge Who fan, I know their personalities.

And everyone knew Keith Moon's personality.

So maybe you're right that a band of that sort can't have members replaced.

Fleetwood Mac is a twisted example. If they were to replace Stevie Nicks with someone new, their fans might be outraged, unaware that she hadn't always been in the band.

3:06 PM, July 20, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Fleetwood Mac went through several changes of personnel in its early years. It's almost ironic that it was called Fleetwood Mac, after Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, since Peter Green was probably the most important member at the start. In fact, at the beginning it was sometime know as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.

When Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined, they so totally changed the feeling and sound of the band that it makes sense their debut (the tenth album by the band) was called "Fleetwood Mac"--even though that was also the name of their first album.

That lineup because so popular that it effectively wiped out any other version of the band in the public's mind.

3:42 PM, July 20, 2017  

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