The Death of the Supergroup

Posted: September 27, 2011 in Editorials

Crosby, Stills and Nash at their second gig ever (I do not own this image)

“This is the second time we’ve ever played in front of people, man.  We’re scared s**tless,” declared Stephen Stills, guitarist for Crosby, Stills and Nash, at the 1969 Woodstock Festival in Bethel, New York.  That’s quite a statement for a member of one of rocks first super groups (a band consisting of already-famous musicians).

Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne’s band, The Traveling Wilburies, were another band that broke the mold for supergroups; Like CSN, The Wilburies had an unmatchable amount of chemistry and never released a bad song.

The Traveling Wilburies from left: back row: Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, front row: Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, George Harrison (I do not own this image)

However, as the century ended and the music business became more concerned with income rather than the spirituality and joy of music, various rock-stars began to have conversations like:

“Hey, we’re all great musicians, right?”

“Yeah, I’d say so.”

“Alright, then let’s make a band it’ll be amazing”

“Yeah! Alright! Rock n’ roll!”

Chickenfoot, who released their debut album in 2008, demonstrate why four good musicians do not necessarily make a good band.  Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, best known for singing and playing bass respectively in Van Halen obviously are familiar with one another but, neither guitar virtuoso Joe Santriani, nor Chad Smith, the funky drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, shine to their full potential; they should not be involved with what that greatly resembles an awful Van Halen cover band.

Chickenfoot from left: Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony, Chad Smith, Sammy Hagar (from Wikimedia Commons)

Two more supergroups, The Dead Weather, lead by blues-reviver Jack White and Them Crooked Vultures, a trio between Nirvana’s Dave Grohl, Queens of the Stoneage’s Josh Homme and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones came along and brought hope back to the music world.  The musicians are all fantastic and more importantly, they worked together phenomenally and released some seriously great records.

Them Crooked Vultures from left: Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones, Josh Homme (from Wikimedia Commons)

Allison Mosshart of the Dead Weather (from Wikimedia Commons)

So why did the horribly named band Superheavy have to come and spoil the good time?  Why Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones is in a band with Bob Marley’s youngest, Damian, will remain unexplained and completely irrational.  Superheavy’s first album, according to the New York Times, “could be a pretty heavy comedy album if its intent were moved a few inches.”  Clearly, the band members’ arrogance blinded them from realizing that you cannot mix the blues with reggae, alternative rock and ethnic Indian music.

Superheavy from left: Damian Marley, Dave Stewart, Mick Jagger, A. R. Rahman, Joss Stone (I do not own this image)

Musicians used to concern themselves with making quality music.  Nowadays, it’s all about the cash; if calling attention to big names is going to bring home the jackpot, then these guys will stoop that low.   Is this rock and roll?  You tell me.

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