Rick Wakeman's Caped Crusades

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Rick asks: when does a real band become a tribute band?

I have often pondered over this question.

Well, if I’m really honest, I’ve never actually pondered it at all. In fact, if truth be known, I personally couldn’t give a toss, but putting that to one side, it is an interesting dilemma so I will attempt to place the facts before you so that you can all decide for yourselves.

I think the best way to present this conundrum is by giving examples and, for obvious reasons, I will not use the names of any real bands past or present in order to protect the innocent. The three names I have completely made up are: Terry And The Lacemakers, The Swinging Green Jeans, and… The Trembletoes. Any resemblance to bands past or present is purely coincidental.

Taking these fictional bands one by one, we’ll start with Terry And The Lacemakers. They were formed in 1964 by Terry Hardon, and had numerous hits such as the classic You’ll Never Walk Again, (which was of course famously taken up by Millwall fans as their theme song) and Mary Across My Jersey, written after an early sexual encounter in St George’s Dock.

They disbanded in the late 60s, but Terry reformed the band some years later. However, the new line-up did not include any of the original members, so it was just Terry and a whole new set of Lacemakers. In my view, if Terry hadn’t been there, they would have been a tribute band, but as he has remained the frontman since the beginning, they are quite rightly still called Terry And The Lacemakers.

However, The Swinging Green Jeans have lost all their original members over the years, but it could be argued that their current line-up has better musicians than the original. They also play the hits better and are true to the original versions. Are they now a very good tribute band? And if so, should they change their name accordingly?

It’s a similar story with The Trembletoes. They had hit records after their lead singer, Brian Tool, left to go solo, but he pops back for shows here and there with his former band, along with co-founder Chop Forks. In my view, I think they are fully entitled to still be called The Trembletoes and I think The Swinging Green Jeans should probably still keep their name too.

But all this just poses one big, unanswered question: where does that put Yes?