What’s An Original Band, Anyway? Part 1

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Rating 72% (5 Votes)

It can never become what some bands become... just a band name with a bunch of hired guns" - T. Petty [Runnin' Down a Dream (2007)]

I just watched Peter Bogdanovich's excellent documentary, "Runnin' Down A Dream," about the life and times of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers band. It's just shy of 4 hours, and there is not one boring moment. I plucked that gem from it to highlight my thesis.


A band is a collection of musicians that make music and usually have a common urpose and goal. Sometimes it's one member's vision that drives it; often times it's a communal effort. Like autism, it spans a spectrum. I would have you consider the question - when a member leaves, or is dismissed or dies, at what point does it stop "being the band"?In your opinion, should they continue as a band? And that is not the only question. There are others...

If they attempt to continue, will people consider them as being no different than before, and will the fans continue to attend their performances and buy their music? Should they continue to function as the same band?Should they market themselves as such? Should the fans continue to buy their (new) music and attend their live shows?  And -- Would YOU still buy their (new) music and go to see them play live?

So let me offer a few examples by way of clarification. The list is not exhaustive by any means, and can only touch on a couple of segments of the line. As I suggested above, I believe this ranges across a spectrum. (Oh, how I want to use the phrase "spectrum disorder"!) I'm deliberately limiting my examples, both for brevity, and because I am a child of the Classic Rock era. As I see it, at one end, we have the prototypical example: Guns and Roses;  Axl Rose perfectly exemplifies Tom Petty's fear. At the other end, candidates that spring to mind are ZZ Top, U2, The Tragically 
Hip, and if you ignore their interim guitarist substitutions from years ago, Aerosmith. I am positive there are many others.

MB