Last week, with no apparent malice intended, the Stone Temple Pilots forced us to confront the fact that there was more than one Stone Temple Pilot out there, firing Scott Weiland for--I'm just speculating here--being Scott Weiland, or writing something called "Sex Type Thing," or (and this is just Scott Weiland speculating) in an attempt to boost somebody's flagging ticket sales.
That's benign enough on its face, unless you're still trying to catch your post-grunge heroes on the road, but it sets up a potentially ruinous rock band touring issue down the road: This could create two usurper Stone Temple Pilots. We're in the middle of witnessing one of several ways a band can confuse or mislead its audience on tour. For instance:
The "The Kingsmen": Swapping out one part at a time If you believe you've seen a 1950s rock band live in the last 20 years, the distinct possibility exists that none of the members you watched were in the band before 1975. This is the simplest kind of touring-band illusion: Members are replaced, one at a time, until half the band has only been around for the nostalgia-tour leg of their career.
The Kingsmen, who recorded the version of "Louie Louie," are a relatively minor example of the phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, they've gone through 18 "past members"; the current band consists of two pre-Louie members and three who've joined between 1988 and 2006.
Steve Peterson, who joined in 1988, has been a member of the Kingsmen as long as Scott Weiland has been a member of the Stone Temple Pilots, but by the time he became a Kingsman their famous hit was already 25 years old. "Louie Louie"'s lead singer, Jack Ely, hasn't perfomed with the band since before Kennedy was assassinated.
Other bands--what's left of Bill Haley's Comets are splintered into a fantasy novel's worth of factions and pretenders to the throne--are even worse off.
The remaining 1950s and 1960s acts are inevitably going to be hit with this sort of thing; besides the obvious specters of age and illness, these acts came of age along with the genre of music they were playing, and attention spans for listener, record label, and musician alike were pretty short. The Kingsmen have an entire page of their official website labelled "Lawsuit Info," which should speak for itself.
The "Gin Blossoms": The Songwriter's gone (for good) Other bands have personnel issues that are a little easier to overcome than the departure of their unmistakable lead singer. The Gin Blossoms' really-pretty-enjoyable debut New Miserable Experience, including "Hey Jealousy," was partially written by guitarist Doug Hopkins, who was fired as the album came out and committed suicide as it made them famous.
The songs sounded the same, afterward, but it was hard to get many more of them--and the "I" who was asking about crashing here tonight wasn't on stage or in the music video. There's not much the Gin Blossoms could do about that--and in their defense, the follow-up, Congratulations I'm Sorry, is also really-pretty-enjoyable. But this situation imparts an odd feeling to some bands' biggest songs.
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The "Stone Temple Pilots": The Name vs. The Voice When a lead singer is dislodged in one of these touring-band dust-ups, the stakes get highest. Scott Weiland is--suspiciously enough--about to tour solo (that is, with a different band) to perform two Stone Temple Pilots albums.
That means that Stone Temple Pilots fans--or people who find themselves within 50 feet of something that's advertised as a Stone Temple Pilots show and are curious enough to walk in--will have to decide between the famous voice of the band and the people who have claimed ownership of the name and the band's legacy, such as it is.
This happens a lot, and when it happens to a band that's still famous enough to merit media coverage with a major lineup change it's relatively easy to make your decision. The real trouble comes when a band has lineup problems outside the spotlight.
It's easy enough to decide which Stone Temple Pilots you want to see, if you want to see the Stone Temple Pilots. But what are we supposed to do (okay, besides shrug) with the news that bands have toured behind "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" as both Fuel and Re-Fueled?