PAYING TRIBUTE TO THE GREATS
PAYING TRIBUTE TO THE GREATS
For many years now there has been a growing number of ‘tribute’ acts in the entertainment field. It started with ‘The Bootleg Beatles’ and ‘Bjorn Again’, an Australian Abba look and sound-alike band plus there has always been a glut of ‘Elvis’ impersonators.
Suddenly every major act in the Universe from Madonna (Mad-On-Her) to Oasis (No-Way-Sis) to Fleetwood Mac (Fleetwood Back) were being copied and audiences were paying good money to see what some people termed imposters. Holiday resorts like Benidorm in Spain, are now flooded with all kinds of tribute acts.
Recently in Pattaya, we have been entertained by the likes of Pink Floyd, Freddie Mercury and Queen, Elton John, Rod Stewart, The Beatles and The Beach Boys, the last two led by myself. As a big fan of both of these legendary bands, I sometimes enjoy putting on my John Lennon Sgt. Peppers outfit or a Hawaiian shirt and pump out the hits I grew up with. In my opinion, the strength of a tribute act is down to the quality of the catalogue of material on offer and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of singing those 60s favourites.
For the ‘serious’ musician, it’s appalling how the public are happy to watch ‘pretenders’ rather than the real deal. I believe there is a big place in the entertainment spectrum for originality and entertaining musicianship so long as the audience opens up their minds to hear something new.
Before copy acts appeared, the likes of Jimi Hendryx, Keith Emerson, David Bowie and such like, pioneered the music scene and influenced the progression of popular music. All were highly entertaining in their own way without feeling the need to replicate what had gone before.
As a music songwriter and producer for the best part of my professional career, I have always stood on the fence between these two extremes. On one hand, I am influenced heavily by my favourite artists but have always tried to be original as possible in my creativity. For a long period in the music business, it was almost impossible to be totally original as record company executives wanted only what was commercial and similar to the successful hits of the day.
I think recently the tide has turned somewhat with the advent of the download and the subsequent lower incomes to be derived. With You Tube and streaming, it’s much easier to find a diverse range of styles from all over the world. Therefore it must be up to the young generation to try to be original, to offer up something fresh and new, but only for the love of it.
Until that happens, the old songs will always be the best and it’s a tribute to the great songwriters of the 50s, 60s and 70s, for their songs to still sound as fresh today as when they were first released. Maybe the fact that technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is now, reflects in the quality of the writing and innovative production techniques used in those days.
So, let’s all enjoy the mass of great material and variety of entertainment available to us while appreciating that not everyone will opt for the same thing…..and don’t forget the local by law that states for artists, wherever or whatever you are performing, ‘thou must sing and play Hotel California every night’!!!