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Tribute bands - who was the first? The Source For Jobs Since 1969 Sterling Howard, founder/owner, 818-888-7879 Musicians & industry personnel receiving this email: 46,008


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Are there ANY well known artists left who haven't had a tribute performed to them? Did tributes start because the current music scene became stagnant? I personally don't think so - I think that no one had thought of the idea yet, just like no one had "thought" of rock n roll until the early 50's. Were there Sinatra clones doing Frank tributes in the 40's? I don't think so. So, who was first?

A guy walked into our office around 1971 and said he was looking for musicians who were "really into the Beatles". I told him that would be easy since everyone loved the Beatles. But he explained he needed players to BECOME the Beatles. (They had broken up just two years earlier). I had never heard of such a concept and besides, "being" the Beatles at that time could have been considered by many to be sacrilegious. Personally I thought the guy was nuts but as it turned out he was just ahead of his time!

I don't know if he ever got that band together, but I do know that about two years later I saw a full page ad in a large talent resource book proclaiming that "Alan - a Tribute to Elvis" was available for booking. This was still a couple years before Elvis died. So, to my knowledge, this dude Alan was the FIRST to pull it off, and it was the first time I remember the word "tribute" being used.

So what is the next phase after 40 years of tribute acts? Tributes to tributes? I can see it now: "Led Zepagain Again". In the past few decades there were of course more jobs where bands were required to know 200 songs because they were working in the same place 5 nights a week, so performing a tribute would get old real fast. I suppose with the decline of house gigs, tributes are more popular today simply because even well established bands only play a few choice jobs a month in different locations, so the audience may only see them once or twice a year. Make sense? What do you think?



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