5 Famous Bands That Are Clearly Ashamed of Key Members
It's a sad fact of life in a band that, sometimes, certain members are going to get a little less attention than others. We can't all be Mick Jaggers, after all. But much like the Beatles before them, who made it an unofficial band rule that the insanely talented and prolific George Harrison was only allowed to record two songs per album, some bands take hiding their peripheral members to dizzying new heights. For example ...
No Doubt is one of those bands "blessed" with a lead singer who's so full of charm and pretty lady parts that the rest of the band might as well not be there as far as any of us are concerned. Once Gwen Stefani started releasing solo albums, everything became a blur. But look at that picture above and then think about everything you know about No Doubt, knowledge I'm assuming that you have stored in the same area of your memory bank that holds your fond remembrances of various xtreme! products and all other manner of '90s nostalgia. Does anything look out of place to you? Here, try comparing it to one of the band's album covers.
I'm sure you already had one out, but use this if not.
It's at this point that I'll stop pretending you didn't notice the two giants with dreadlocks in that first picture and introduce you to Stephen Bradley and Gabrial McNair.
L-R: People you never see on a No Doubt album cover.
If you've ever seen No Doubt in concert or even watched some of their videos, you've seen these two hopping around the stage somewhere in the general area of the keyboards and trombones and other instruments that don't get you girls. And it's been that way for a long time. Bradley (left) joined the band in 1995, McNair in 1993. That gives them damn near 40 years of cumulative No Doubt experience between them. And they both play horns, which, in case you're not familiar with the genre, I should add are pretty vital to a "ska" band like No Doubt.
Yet for all that hard work, they've never appeared on the cover of a No Doubt album.
Self-esteem was especially low during the Rock Steady era, when no one made the album cover.
Now, I get that these two are just technically "touring members" who may not be involved in the actual songwriting, but damn, if there was a written history of No Doubt, those four Japanese girls Gwen Stefani bought and wore as fashion accessories while promoting her first solo album would have a longer write-up than these guys.
They're all drawing fat pensions now.
While I accept that Bradley and McNair aren't founding members, they've both been around since the days of Tragic Kingdom, which was the album that put No Doubt on the map. They may not have been in the fold prior to that, but who gave a shit about No Doubt before "Don't Speak" came out? Nobody. And it's not like making a long-serving touring musician a full member of an already established band is an unusual thing. In fact, my favorite-to-write-about band Green Day just added a fourth member to their lineup after he'd served 13 years as a sidepiece. What's stopping No Doubt from doing the same?
Look, I'm not saying they have to put Bradley and McNair on every album cover ...
... but can we at least give them a little shine on the cover of the live DVDs going forward?
Have you ever wondered where the idea for those ubiquitous trick-photography techniques that chicks use on dating and social networking sites to hide the fact that they're overweight came from? If I had to guess, I'd say the concept originated with the video for Heart's 1987 No. 1 hit "Alone."
This is a super-tight close-up of Ann Wilson, the band's plus-sized lead singer, from the video in question.
These are her three (four if you count the drummer, which no one does) appropriately cocaine-slim bandmates.
And throughout this entire video, if you see all of them onstage at the same time, it's mostly in aerial views like this, which tell us nothing about the appearance of this band other than the fact that there was a sale at the perm store the week they filmed this video.
Check out the personality on that brunette!
Historically, most of the close-up shots of a band during a live performance are going to be of the lead singer. Here, though, while Ann Wilson gives one of the most impressive vocal performances of her absurdly impressive vocal performancing career, most of the action shots go to her guitar-playing sister. Like here ...
And here ...
This is something like if Nirvana's legendary episode of MTV Unplugged consisted mostly of shots of Krist Novoselic and the woman who played the cello. Even during those obligatory moments where the lead singer must be shown onscreen lest she quit the band in protest, great pains are taken to ensure that nobody knows Ann Wilson ...
... is a little bit bigger than her sister ...
Because if people found that out, this song wouldn't be good anymore.
On the bright side, at least it just happened in a few videos. There's another famous band with a much longer track record of selectively concealing their less "desirable" looking members when the situation calls for it.
For most of their career, Cheap Trick has been a band with two faces. And that's weird, because there are four faces in the band. You just wouldn't know it ...
... from looking at a lot of their album covers ...
If I'm picking up on the pattern correctly, any time the band wants to take a picture that conveys their hip, slightly edgier side, they trot out Robin Zander and whatever relatively normal-looking person happens to be playing bass in the band at the time.
The only time the other two members get any attention on the album covers are when the band is intentionally trying to take the most ridiculous picture possible.
And even then they don't always get both of them in the picture.
It's as if Bun E. Carlos and Rick Nielsen (yep, those weirdos have names) are punished for asking to be included in the picture.
Like any rule, though, there is an exception. There was one sort of cool-looking album cover that all of the band members were allowed to appear on at the same time ...
So that was nice of them. There's another famous act that's less willing to bend the rules, though.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Bruce Springsteen just plain doesn't like taking pictures with the E Street Band. In fact, among all of his official studio releases, the only appearance of an E Street Band member on a Springsteen album is this one.
That, of course, is the legendary Born to Run, easily one of Springsteen's most iconic album cover images of all time. The front side features about three-quarters of the back half of Clarence Clemons. Unfortunately for Clarence (R.I.P.) and the rest of the band, iconic album covers aren't really something the Boss goes in for, so this was a one time only kind of thing. Sure, that image of his denim-clad ass in front of an American flag will be remembered forever ...
But for the most part, Springsteen album covers vary wildly from corny ...
To boring ...
To ... well, that's about it. Corny or boring. But through it all, one thing remains: The E Street Band never appears on the cover of a Springsteen studio album. Hell, they usually aren't even listed by name.
But hey, it's probably just some long-standing personal rule with Springsteen that, as the one that people pay money to see, he should be the only person on the album cover in those instances when he happens to employ other musicians to aid in the recording of his songs.
Oh, right. That's an album he did with a ragtag group of musicians in his living room. They've made one album together. The guy on the far right is LaBamba from Conan O'Brien's band. You know who's not in that picture? Max Weinberg. He was the leader of Conan's house band during his time on the show, and he was the drummer in the E Street Band from the 1970s until just a few years ago. But he wasn't in this particular Springsteen band. So, LaBamba has appeared on the cover of more Springsteen albums than Max Weinberg.
Nothing shitty about that!
So this is something you don't hear brought up much when people discuss the storied legacy of Jersey schlock-rock masters Bon Jovi. For the first 10 years or so of their career, the bass player in Bon Jovi was basically hair metal's answer to Milli Vanilli.
This is what we know. The man who played bass on "Runaway" was named Hugh McDonald.
"Hi! You don't know me!"
The kind of people who still have tape decks in their cars will likely recognize that song as Bon Jovi's very first single released way back during the dawn of the Chicken McNugget in 1983. Somewhere between the recording of that song and the release of his first album, Jon Bon Jovi assembled a band that, for whatever reason, did not include McDonald. For the next 10 years, a man named Alec John Such was the face of bass when it came to the band Bon Jovi.
Because you can't just let a face like that do nothing.
But in 1994, Such was given the ax. It eventually came to light that his dismissal was prompted by his complete and utter lack of ability to play his bass parts correctly when performing live. But wait, seeing as how Such was the only credited bass player on all of those great Bon Jovi albums that your mom loved and got pregnant to, he must have been playing those parts in the studio, right? So that would have to mean that he nailed it once. How is it not getting easier each time he plays it from there? I doubt Eddie Van Halen nailed that tappity-tap stuff on his initial attempt, but at this point you can roll his meth-addled carcass on stage in any condition at any time and he'll do at least a serviceable job of recreating the magic. Meanwhile, his fucking 12-year-old plays bass now or something.
Here's the thing. You won't see it on any official album personnel listings, but McDonald played bass on every Bon Jovi album. What source do I have to back up that claim? McDonald's own discography as listed on his own website. Go ahead and check it out, you'll see every Bon Jovi album listed.
Is it too outlandish to wonder if Such was brought into the Bon Jovi fold all those years ago for reasons other than his technical ability and in fact never played a note of bass on any of the band's albums? Of course not -- the second half of that very theory is somewhat confirmed on their episode of VH1's Behind the Music.
At around the 3:20 mark, it's mentioned that, at the time of his firing, Such indeed had stopped playing on Bon Jovi albums. But "albums" is the word they use. Plural. The band only had five at the time of his firing. That "s" at the end negates his participation in at least two of them. Decide for yourself what you think happened with the other three.
What my gut tells me, though, is that McDonald played every bit of bass that Such was credited for during his time with Bon Jovi. But why? I honestly don't know, but coming from a band whose lead singer famously may or may not have once asked drummer Tico Torres to get liposuction, I'm just going to assume that Hugh McDonald, who is a full eleven years older, simply didn't look the part when it came time for Jon to put his band of 20-somethings from Jersey together.
To be fair, three women and two dudes is a nice balance though.
Honestly, I don't think I even want to know what kind of misguided "I'm from Jersey, so my shitty cock-rock band is just like the Mafia" ideals led Jon Bon Jovi to perpetuate this coverup for all of those years, but I'm assuming they're the same ones that keep him from making it right.
See, after years of standing in the shadows, putting in the work to make all of those legendary '80s albums as legendary as they were while some other guy got all the credit in public, McDonald still wasn't made an official member of Bon Jovi after Such left. Sure, he is indeed Such's replacement and has been since the mid-'90s, but his membership in the band is still deemed "unofficial." To this day, you won't see him on any album covers or smiling in promotional photos alongside Jon and Richie and that weirdo with the perm who plays keyboards.
Lucky for him, they all sucked anyway.
But he's still there, just as he's always been. Hugh McDonald, the only bass player Bon Jovi will never need.
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