1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Impersonator Bands

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by powderfinger, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    So Im not talking about bands with 1 or 2 original members left who are still touring, but I am talking about impersonators. I read somewhere that a while back there had been an wave of fake bands.

    What I mean is this..

    A small club announces that The Platters of The Drifters are going to perform. And on show night, 4 or 5 random 70 year old black gentlemen show up to sing (none of them ever having been a member of the previously mentioned bands). Now, I dunno about you, but Id be hard pressed to identify any member of either of these early doo wop vocal groups by name or face (esp . at 70 or 75 years old). I dont remember if it was the Drifters or Platters this happened with, but it was with some older doo wop groups in that era. Anyone else ever heard of this phenomena? I've also heard of this happening with 80s one hit wonder type bands.

    Does this still happen?
  2. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    Some older bands have replaced everyone three or four times. Depends what you are expecting.
  3. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    No, I mean what I read was straight up saying these fake bands were committing fraud and were being sued for impersonating.

    Id like to get some friends together one day and bill ourselves as Men Without Hats or something. I bet the kids at the bar would never know. I can do a wicked vocal on Safety Dance. I guess we'd have to learn their other songs though.
  4. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Yes, this still happens and there has been legislation in several U.S. states (Pennsylvania being one of them) preventing these bands from performing without any legal right to represent themselves as the actual act. Tribute acts are fine as long as they are not stating or promoting themselves as the actual act - e.g. The Machine - Pink Floyd Tribute

    Jon Bauman (aka Bowzer from Sha Na Na) has been spearheading these efforts against the imposter acts with his Truth In Music organization.

  5. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    the Drifters, Platters, Martha & the Vandellas, Little Anthony & the Imperials, etc. etc.

    25 yrs ago

    there were still 'original' members then & of course Martha was Martha Reeves & Little Anthony was himself (both of them were cranky/resentful/bitter & hard to work with) I can't imagine what they're like now

    there's usually a 'musical' director who travels (maybe plays guitar or keys) with them & the rhythm sections are regional pickups

    they were good gigs - Ritz Carltons, Atlantis Bahamas, private rooms, expenses & >$300/man/night - they'd hire my whole band because we were solid R&B and would do the opening sets

    now I see - total fakes (tributes, 'the music of') with big billing at the casinos - I guess sheeple don't know any better- paying top $$ for a cover band
  6. Clark Dark

    Clark Dark

    Mar 3, 2005
    The Temptations and the Dramatics are split that way currently.
  7. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    I wouldnt call those fakes, as they are not claiming to be the original band. Thats what a tribute band is. Yes, they can get top billing, but the people who pay money to see them are aware they are not the original band. Those people arent sheeple, theyre just people who like to see cover/tribute bands.
  8. DownhillWillie


    May 22, 2007
    I remember walking into a club way back when and being told BadFinger was playing.
    Now being a huge fan of the band I could not believe it. Then they came on.....Huh?
    Now forgetting that 2 of the band members hung themselves years before I was taken back mostly by the Disco style music with accompaning horn section????
    Beatles/Badfinger?? I did recognize the drummer Mike Gibbons so I guess that qualifies as Badfinger right?? LOL!!
  9. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    My point is that you could technically go to see a band called Black Sabbath (just for example) featuring Bev Bevan, Neil Murray, Ian Gillan, and some new guitar player and you are technically seeing ex Black Sabbath people playing Black Sabbbath songs. Cover band? Not really, but not Black Sabbath either.
    The Temptations are not all original (I think only one of them is left). Napalm Death changed line up completely.

    Where is the cut off?
  10. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    The closest Ive ever come to feeling like I was ripped off by an impersonator was a few years ago at a club show I went to. This was bar was sort of a dump, and the marqee said that "Bad Company" was coming. I was thinking, this has to be a mistake. Well, then on the classic rock radio station, I began hearing commercials for this show. The DJ would come on and annouce the show date and that Bad Co. was playing, with actual Bad Company songs playing in the background. I remember the commercial would start with the song "Bad Company", and they played a montage of their hits while the DJ was hyping the show.

    So I got some comp. tickets (25 bucks if Im not mistaken). This dump of a bar was actually filled with a ton of paying patrons. I mean, this dump was packed to the ceiling. No one seemed to be able to give anyone else the scoop on what the deal was. I KNEW this was going to have NOTHING to do with Paul Rodgers, but the word floating around the bar was that it was the singer from Bad Co. performing.

    And it was...

    It was Brian Howe, the guy who sang on a couple Bad. Co. albums in the 80s and early 90s. His band was comprised of a few guys who were probably in their late 20s or so. They played actual 70s Bad Co. songs, and they werent half bad, but I feel that wasnt very honest advertisement.

    I guess there are 50 shades of impersonation....
  11. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    I suppose using that logic, Pete Best could tour as The Beatles....
  12. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    I like to see a good tribute band... have seen a couple cool KISS and Beatle tributes in the past. However, I KNEW I was going to see a tribute, and these bands werent trying to fool anyone.

    The point of my post is that there ARE guys out there PRETENDING to be famous bands, hoping no one will recognize they arent the real members.
  13. Mr L

    Mr L

    Jul 22, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    Is it wrong if I wanted to scream guns n roses when heard "impersonator bands"?
  14. Mike11121


    Sep 17, 2007
    Fake bands (as opposed to tribute bands) have a long history, though. Am I the only one old enough to remember this?
  15. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    This summer at the fair, I saw the Diamonds. Before sound check, I was talking to one of the guys and asked him how many original members were still in the group. "None." It turns out that, as the original members retired, they sold their shares in the band to replacements until none were left. They now are more like a Sha-Na-Na type band, doing covers of a bunch of other bands from that era. Let's face it, the Diamonds had their hit "Little Darlin'" and not much else.

    Interestingly, one of the original members was in the audience and they acknowledged him, but didn't invite him up to do a number with them. I was disappointed. I recognized the original member from seeing him on one of the older PBS classic rock shows.

    So I felt that they were an "impersonator band," but apparently it's all on the up-and-up with the former members.
  16. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    I would really, really like to know how much they got for those shares.
  17. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    There is a band from the Pittsburgh, PA area that had a couple hits in the early 60s and the only original member left is the non-performing manager, yet he books the group as the original act. He does not even sing with them anymore.

    Here is another thing I have seen happen, including twice locally recently. Two local bands named themselves after well known bands without even thinking anything about it or researching that a famous band used to exist or still exists. Anybody with have a sense would realize that the real and famous band would not be playing at the local American Legion Hall. I even asked one of these bands why they would name themselves after a very well known famous band that there was even a movie being made about them. They had no idea who I was talking about and said they never heard of them; yet, they did not change their name.
  18. He did do something like that once. He release an album called "Best of the Beatles".

    It didn't have any Beatles songs on it. Just clever use of his name and former place in the band..
  19. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    Jefferson Starship is coming to a town nearby sometime this Fall. I went to look them up on Wikipedia to see who the current members are... oddly.... I did not see Grace Slick, Marty Ballin, or Mickey Thomas on there! CMON!!

    That's ridiculous!!