This week, the world learned that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are planning a performance together at the Grammys. It’s being billed as a “Beatles” moment in the media, but they’re still two guys short if they really wanted the Beatles. In fact, the Beatles never performed together after John Lennon’s death, although they did Frankenstein “Free as a Bird” from previous recordings.
And it raises a question about when a band has the spiritual fortitude to keep a name after some members are out. Kiss has been performing for the past hundred years, despite a revolving door on two of the front four. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are the only two “real” Kiss members left, although they tour with guys wearing Ace and Peter’s outfits. But so long as you have Gene and Paul, you have Kiss.
But it’s not just them. Lynyrd Skynyrd doesn’t even have an original Van Zant in it. Groups like The Misfits have a revolving door, Chicago popped in a Peter Cetera sound-alike, Billy Corrigan is the only original Smashing Pumpkin, and whoever the other guys in Queen are, got Adam Lambert to replace Freddie Mercury.
Of course, some of those versions of the bands feel more legit than others. Which is why our Man on the Edge, Robert Wilder, hit the streets to ask: if it’s not all the original members, is it just a tribute band?