Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French has found himself right on the center of a controversy. The source of the controversy would be French’s own words. French levied an insult at legendary groups Judas Priest and Foreigner. French labeled them “cover bands” due to their current lineups being comprised of replacement members.
Was what he said really controversial though? The guitarist expressed sentiments that many others in the music industry agree with. They just aren’t likely to speak out openly.
For those outside the music world, a real cover band exclusively plays songs by a particular band. Cover bands, also known as tribute bands, have long since been a part of the club scene. Calling established super bands by the cover band moniker is a huge insult. Generally, the insult is levied when numerous original members leave to the point only one or two members remain. AC/DC and KISS might be the two most commonly cited bands as being dubbed “cover versions” of their original incarnation.
French made the comments about Foreigner and Judas Priest were made during a live convention Q&A session moderated by Michael Brandvold, the host of the Three Sides of the Coin program. Ironically, Three Sides of the Coin invests a great deal of time covering the history of KISS. Former KISS drummer Peter Criss likes to refer to the current KISS lineup as “half a cover band.” French seems to be following Criss lead and saying what he feels as well.
French’s interview comments were delivered with malice. He didn’t seem as if he wanted to put the bands down, but was stressing personal feelings about the current trend of “hired employee members” performing replacement duties when an original member leaves.
While criticism from people in the industry and fans makes sense, there is just too much money to make from concert tours for bands to call it quits just because someone leaves. There are people willing to pay huge ticket prices to see these “1/2 and 3/4 cover bands.” Why call a career quits when tens of millions of dollars in ticket sales could be earned?
The music industry is a business, plain and simple. And by the way, KISS lead singer Paul Stanley suggested KISS may turn into an official cover band when he and Gene Simmons retire. Yes, KISS would tour with no original members. What would Jay Jay French Say?
20 years ago and earlier, the current scenario of bands going on with one or two original members would have been an impossibility. Times and the music industry have changed.