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Examples of Bands that are Not Really Bands
What is the definition of a band? I'm not going to look it up, but I'm going to assume the Oxford Dictionary says something like "a group of people that play music together." Ok, fine. But that's a rather loose definition. I think most people would agree that a "band" constitutes a group of core people that have been writing and performing together for a long period of time. This, in fact, is the criteria that I tend to stick with when I think of a "band". More often than not though, nowadays the band you are going to see is really nothing more than a cobbling of one or two original core members, plus whoever is available, and simply playing music you are familiar with.
It should also be mentioned that there are many bands that have only changed one core member due to death, or other circumstances. In many cases, they actually remained as (or got more) popular with the newer member anyway. So a band like that cannot lose their status as a band.
That being said, let's take a look at a few bands that are touring today (or recently), and see if they are an actual "band". Now, before we get started here, let me point out that I am not taking any shots at anyone. I can't exactly fault the one or two core members that absolutely insist on touring music that they wrote 25 years ago, and want to use the original band name. Seriously... How would they attract a crowd otherwise? And I am not going to say that I am personally a fan one way or the other of any of these bands. So I can easily avoid any personal bias.
Now, in no particular order, is my list of bands that may or may not actually be "bands".
The Doobie Brothers - Not a Band
They have never been a band. Exactly one guy has been there all along. People are probably most familiar with songs written and performed by Michael Mcdonald. He was only in the band for a little while. They have never actually released an entire album with the exact same line up more than once. Ever. They've never toured with the same lineup either. So if you've ever gone to see them live, who you were really seeing is Patrick Simmons, with whoever felt like going on tour with him that year.
The Rolling Stones - A Band
Probably the only example I can think of as a band that has maintained the exact same lineup for as long as anyone can remember. Even Keith Richards has lived through the whole thing. That joke will never get old. Many people are scratching their heads over that one. The only exception I have to throw in here is that they had a bass player as a core member until the 90's - but they haven't had one since. So, they are a band. A band with no bass player. It is just always considered that the 4 guys there now are what constitutes their lineup, and that's that.
Queen - Not a Band
Alas Freddie Mercury passed away. Everyone knows this. He was a great talent. More to the point, he was the front man for Queen. Without him, it's rather impossible for them to remain a band. They also used to have a bass player. But they really haven't since like 1997. Although I commend the remaining members for choosing the ever flamboyant and talented Adam Lambert to fill the shoes of the ever flamboyant and talented Freddie Mercury. It is almost a miracle that they found someone so perfect to fill that slot.
KISS - Not a Band
The lineup of this group is Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. That's it. Anyone else who has ever been in the band since the original 4 members (one of which is gone forever), is not a member. They are a hired gun. Anyone who's a fan of this group will tell you the put on the best show ever. And that may be true. But they are not a band.
Queensryche - Not a Band
They have most of their original members. But Geoff Tate got fired. That sucks. Chris DeGarmo was their primary songwriter, and he left in 1997. With both of them out, whatever is the group now, is not a band.
Duran Duran - A Band
This is an example of a band that doesn't exactly need a guitar player. Which is really odd, because damned near every other band in the universe does. The core members of this band have been there all along. If any one of them left for an appreciable period, that would be the end. It may be strange that they could get along without a solid guitar player. But they have! Evidently it was never that important.
Van Halen - Not a Band anymore
Here we had two versions of a band. The David Lee Roth era was classic. Then he left. The band made an obvious change across the board when he was replaced with Sammy Hagar. It is one of the few examples in modern times of a band literally reinventing themselves. Because with Hagar, they completely revamped their sound. In doing so, they actually created some quality music. Not saying it's better than the Roth years. Just different. But they stuck it out with that lineup for long enough that they remained a band in the truest sense. For the record, Hagar was actually in the band almost twice as long as Roth. To explain what I mean by "anymore" is that they insist that they are still together. With Roth as a singer again, and Eddie's son playing bass. But, sadly, no. That does not qualify.
Chicago - Not a Band
This is one of those groups, sorta like The Doobie Brothers. The list of members and past members is so long and complicated, it reminds me of a Chinese delivery menu. Peter Cetera is the only one I can even name off the top of my head, and he's not even in the group anymore. So, it seems pretty clear that they are nothing more than a constantly rotating Chicago tribute band.
Pink Floyd - Not a Band
I'm sorry if the truth of this one pisses you off. Pink Floyd fans are nothing if not dedicated. But Floyd was based on a partnership between David Gilmore and Roger Waters. And Waters was the real writing force between the two. The point is, when Waters left the band, the rest of the band should have given up. This is why when someone says they saw Pink Floyd live, the first thing I say is, "Yeah? With Roger Waters? No? Then, no you didn't". Because nothing they've done since is remotely like when Waters was there. To make matters worse, Richard Wright, who was another core member, left the band before Waters did, and now he's passed away. However, if all the ramaining members, including Waters ever tour again, they WILL be a band again. Just not now, or for the past 30 years or so.
AC/DC - A Band, for now
Yes, they have had some member changes. They rather had to have someone who was alive in order to continue, for one thing. Brian Johnson has been there for all the time since. Other members have come and gone. Along with him, the core of the group remains the brothers Young. If either of those 2 were to leave the band for, say, health reasons, that would be the end. Unfortunately, it seems that Malcolm may be the one who will have to do that. It's already been said by the rest of the band, that he cannot be replaced. If he goes, that's that. (Update - 10/11: It appears a nephew will be standing in for Malcolm, and they intend to continue). I'd like to finalize this whole thing by pointing out that AC/DC evidently agrees with me on the whole point of this article.