Fri 4/7/2006 ~ Famous bands with Replacement Members
Last month some friends of mine
went to see Queen & Paul Rodgers... They said it was a great
But I have mixed emotions about
the concept. This current version of "Queen" was actually
only the guitarist, Brian May, and the drummer, Roger Taylor.
(Paul Rodgers was convincingly played by Paul Rodgers...) The
ethical question is: should two of the four members of a band,
neither of which was the lead singer, tour using the band's name?
I can't decide. You can't fault Brian May and John Taylor for
wanting to perform... and you can't fault them for wanting to
do their favorite songs... and the wall o' Vox "sound"
of Brian May's guitar was as much as part of Queen's sound as
Freddie Mercury's singing... but should they be appearing as
"Queen"? (Well, the show would HAVE to be better than
the hokey "Creedence Clearwater Revisited" that toured
a few years ago with Creedence Clearwater Revival's original
drummer and bass player)... And, hey, at least they're not billing
this new tour as Queen & Bad Company!
Thinking back to CCR mentioned
above (no, not the original CCR, but the hokey non-John Fogerty
CCR) I can't help but think of the oldies shows we see on TV.
Last year I saw an act billed as The Lovin' Spoonful, but it
was really just the original drummer, Joe Butler, now out front
playing an autoharp the way John Sebastian used to do... And
then there's The Temptations... There have been 21 different
members so far, 15 of which were not on any of the famous hit
records... Is it really The Temptations if four out of the five
guys on stage weren't born when "My Girl" was released?
Mmmmmm. It's such a nice summer day here in Pittsburgh.... I'll
walk to the Post Office and think about it....
OK, I'm back. Here are my thoughts.
Hopefully they will be accepted at the next International Symposium
On Band Naming:
Scenario 1) If at least three
original band members are performing, including the original
lead singer, they should use the original band name. Or, if at
least three original band members are performing, but the original
lead singer is sadly no longer with us, they should still use
the original name.
Scenario 2) If at least three
original band members are performing, but without the original
lead singer because he or she just doesn't like them anymore,
they should attach v2.0 to their name.
Scenario 3) If only two original
members are performing, either with the lead singer, or without
because the lead singer has gone to the great stage in the sky,
they should add v2.0 to their name.
Scenario 4) If only two original
members are performing, but without the lead singer because the
lead singer, though alive, doesn't want to do it, they should
not use the band's name. They should just appear as "So
& So, from The Blah Blah Band."
Thus, Brian May and Roger Taylor
should appear as Queen v2.0.
Joe Butler should appear as "Joe
Butler From The Lovin' Spoonful."
The Temptations, since they still
do have original singer Otis Williams, should appear as The Temptations
And those other two guys should
bill themselves as "The Drummer And The Bass Player From
Creedence Clearwater Revival."
Speaking of Queen, when I think
of that band, the first thing I think of is the giant stack of
Vox amps. The third thing I think of was that half-a-mic-stand
that Freddie Mercury used to use. He didn't want to carry the
entire stand around with him, but he wanted to have something
long in his hands, so he pulled the mic stand apart and just
used the top half. In honor of Freddie Mercury, this week's email
special will be for mic stands. I just got a great deal on some,
so we'll pass it along to you:
Note: These are entire mic stands,
not just the top half!
See You Soon,
PS: Thanks to all of you who
wrote back last week with "Guitars That I Wish I Had Back"
stories. I'm still reading all of them. We'll talk about the
best ones next week!
PPS: This week's customer web site
Fri 4/21/2006 ~ Memories
One of the beauties of satellite
radio (the future of radio) is the unexpected song selection.
You never know what's next. I was checking out a new guitar in
the store yesterday, when I heard an old Buffalo Springfield
song, "Kind Woman." It brought back a "feeling"
from the past... Not a specific memory, but a warm, peaceful
feeling. I think our brains not only contain actual time-and-date
memories, but also general, non-distinct, and yet familiar memories.
Hearing the Buffalo Springfield song made me feel good, in a
very general sense. It was quite pleasant.
In the early 1980s there was
a TV channel that played nothing but music videos. I believe
it was called MTV. When I hear a song from that era, the first
thing that comes to mind is the video that's permanently locked
to the music in my brain. For example, when I hear "I Ran"
by A Flock Of Seagulls, I can't help but think of the aluminum
foil they used in that video... (Remember the funny-haired guy
standing at the keyboards, surrounded by aluminum foil...) (This
of course, also makes it difficult to cook at home, when the
aluminum foil reminds me of...) Although I'm a big fan of new
technologies, like music videos, I'm happy that some of the songs
from my childhood exist only in audio form. Sometimes it's good
to have general memories, rather than specific, one-dimensional
ones... (involving aluminum foil...)
Two emails ago I talked about
"guitars I wish I had back." I asked for your stories,
and a lot of folks replied. Some people regretted that they had
to sell a guitar to pay bills. (That's always an unfortunate
circumstance...) Some people regretted that they sold a guitar
that is now worth a lot of money. (Also unfortunate, but none
of us can see the future...) (Except for satellite radio..) But
most of the "I wish I had that back" stories were from
folks who had a special bond with a certain guitar... it just
felt right in their hands... and they let it go. And the worst
of those stories were from people who traded in their wonderful-feeling
old guitar on something more stylish, at the time... like a headless
Steinberger! (Another reason, besides A Flock Of Seagulls, to
regret the 80s...)
I promised a Pittsburgh Guitars
Gift Certificate for best "wish I had back" guitar
story, but two were so good that I decided to make it a tie.
A Gift Certificate goes to "Rockin' Ronny" (who traded
for a headless Kramer Duke) and "Chuck in DC" (who
traded for a Steinberger). Several other folks will receive the
deluxe Pittsburgh Guitars gift package: a Pittsburgh Guitars
T-Shirt, a Pittsburgh Guitars Bumper Sticker, a Pittsburgh Guitars
Polish Cloth, a Pittsburgh Guitars Key Chain, and a Pittsburgh
Speaking of Pittsburgh Guitars,
which I said more times in that last sentence than I ever have
before, I often still think of us as the little store I started
in Bloomfield... and it surprises me to see how far we've come.
(It's kinda like how I still think of myself as a 29-year-old...
and it surprises me when I look in the mirror...) (Except it's
exactly the opposite feeling...)
Floor-space-wise, we're still
pretty small, but cool-stuff-wise, we're beyond what I ever expected.
For example, we just got one of the first new Brian May Vox amps in the country. (Even
our Vox sales rep was surprised when he heard we got it before
anyone else!) It's a limited edition AC-30 that sounds fabulous.
It's hand wired, it features the great-sounding Blue Alnico speakers,
and it only has one knob! We also have one of the few Rickenbacker 325c64 guitars available in
the USA. We ordered this guitar in 2001 and Rickenbacker is just
now starting to ship them. And speaking of Beatle-ish guitars,
we just got a special deal from Gretsch on two of their models, the 1957
Reissue Duo Jet and the 1962 Reissue Tennessean. For a limited
time we have these two models marked down to the best prices
in the country. There's more, but I don't want to sound salesman-ish.
I just think it's neat that we have stuff you can't get anywhere
See you soon,
PS: If you look in the mirror,
and the face that's looking back at you is the same age as the
one you expected, you may not be familiar with the Buffalo Springfield.
They were only together for two years (1967-1968) but recorded
a lot of great stuff, including the hit, "For What It's
Worth." When the band broke up, one of the guitarists, Steve
Stills, formed Crosby, Stills & Nash. He was later joined
by another ex-Buffalo Springfield guitarist, Neil Young, forming
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Meanwhile two other ex-Springfielders,
Richie Furay and Jim Messina started a wonderful country-rock
band called Poco. Jim Messina later quit Poco to team up with
Kenny Loggins as Loggins & Messina. (Their biggest hit: "Your
Mama Don't Dance.") The original bass player in Poco, by
the way, was Randy Meisner. He quit Poco to form The Eagles and
was replaced in Poco by bass player Timothy B. Schmit. Oddly
enough, years later when Meisner quit The Eagles, he was replaced
in that band by Timothy B. Schmit!
PPS: This week's customer website:
Science Fiction Idols!!
Fri 4/28/2006 ~ Martin and The Dreadnought
1) Last year I read this little
book... you may have heard about it..."The Da Vinci Code"...
Well, earlier this year in England
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of another book, sued
"Da Vinci Code" author, Dan Brown, for possible copyright
infringement. On April 7th the judge in the case, Peter Smith,
ruled in favor of Mr. Brown. (Brown is now free to spend the
$500,000,000,000.47 he's made from the book so far...) (..And
he may make another dollar or two when the Tom Hanks & Ron
Howard movie version is released on May 19th...)
The hero of "The Da Vinci
Code," Robert Langdon, is a cryptographer, and the book
revolves around a series of secret codes. Interestingly, when
Judge Smith handed down his 71-page ruling it, too, included
a secret code, indicated by random italicized letters. Yesterday,
a lawyer in London broke the code in Judge Smith's ruling using
the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical progression where each
number is the sum of the previous two numbers (1, 1, 2, 3, 5,
8,13, 21...) This morning it was announced that Judge Smith's
decoded message reads, "Jackie Fisher who are you? Dreadnought."
This secret message apparently
doesn't have anything to do with Dan Brown's book, but rather
is a tribute to Royal Navy Admiral Jackie Fisher, who helped
develop the first modern warship, the HMS Dreadnought. Judge
Smith is a navy buff, and the copyright trial's starting date
in February coincided with the 100th anniversary of the ship's
You're probably thinking, "Why
does the HMS Dreadnought sound familiar?" It goes back to
1916. That was the year the Martin Guitar Company decided to
design a guitar that was bigger and louder than any guitar made
at the time... and they decided to name it after the world's
largest, most powerful battleship. They called it the "dreadnought
guitar" and that's what the "D" in Martin's model
designation (D-18, D-28, D-45, etc) stands for. Today the "dreadnought"
is the most common size for steel string acoustic guitars, and
is a generic term for that size.
2) Speaking of Martin Guitars,
right around the time that Judge Smith was handing down his ruling
I got a call from a very nice old gentleman, Mac Martin. We chatted
about his 1937 Martin dreadnought and the band he's been leading
for the past 50 years, Mac Martin & The Dixie Travelers. They
play authentic, traditional bluegrass music. I told him I'd love
to hear his band if they ever played nearby.
Then, speaking of Martin Guitars,
two weeks ago I got a call from Martin Guitars. They asked if I'd like to
have someone from Martin stop by for a guitar clinic. The clinic
would be presented by a technician from the factory who would
explain the construction of the guitars, talk about the history
of the company, and bring some exotic (and incredibly expensive)
guitars. At first I was hesitant. But then they explained that
the technician available for a clinic was Richard Starkey! Yes,
you're right... that's also Ringo Starr's real name! THEN they
said that he (their Richard Starkey, not Ringo) was an excellent
bluegrass player, and he's played with Bill Monroe and lots of
other famous folks, and he'd play at the clinic!! THEN I remembered
that Mac Martin's name was "Martin"!!! THEN I thought,
hey, why don't we have the clinic at The Rex Theater across the street and I'll
hire Mac Martin & The Dixie Travelers to play right after
Richard Starkey!!!! And it'll all be free!!!! Sooooooo, that's
what we're doing!!
So mark your calendar now! Wednesday,
June 14th. The Rex Theater, 7PM. A Martin Guitar clinic with
award-winning flatpicker Richard Starkey, followed by the fabulous
Mac Martin & The Dixie Travelers!! On display will be new,
top-of-the-line Martins, plus some vintage Martins from the Pittsburgh
Guitars collection including several made in the 1800's. We'll
have some free stuff to give away, maybe even a guitar, and lots
of great music!! And no cover charge!!!
See you soon,
PS: Wow! Did you see Conan O'Brien
last night? Our own ex-guitar teacher Korel was on, playing with
the Goo Goo Dolls!! He not only played guitar (his cool light-blue
Les Paul), he also played keyboards and sang all of the background
harmonies. It was great! The band played again this morning on
"Regis & Kelly."
I remember once for Christmas
we gave Korel a ukulele. He opened the box, and even though he
had never played a uke before, and it was right handed and he's
left handed, he picked it up and in 10 seconds was playing a
Christmas carol. He's just a naturally talented guy, and it was
nice to see him on TV.
PPS: Saturday Night: Art All Night!