When is a tribute valid?

So what exactly is a tribute band? I would suggest that any band that is playing music that was previously performed by another artist is actually a tribute band.

NY Philharmonic

This would include bands such as the New York Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic. Clearly these are very talented and professional operations, but the works they perform were original to other artists. That makes them tribute bands in exactly the same way that Strawberry Fields is a Beatles Tribute band and Almost Queen is a tribute band to Queen.

Almost Queen

I’d go one step further and suggest that many bands end up being a tribute to themselves. When a band stops creating new works, but instead performs their previously popular material then they are in fact a tribute to themselves.

Today Roger Waters makes a great living travelling the world performing the Pink Floyd rock opera “The Wall”. I’ve seen the performance a couple of times and it is great. I saw it performed in Berlin a year after the wall came down, and again in New Yorks Madison Square Garden a couple of years ago. It was a perfect facsimile of the original work. And I would class it as an excellent tribute to Pink Floyd.

Roger Waters – The Wall

Sir Paul McCartney regularly performs works from the Beatles and Wings, again it’s wonderful that the ancient Liverpublian can still croak out these works in tribute to the fab four and the rebound group in which he performed with one of his earlier (and well respected) wives.

I’ve seen Level 42 perform their hits from the 80’s in the 2000’s and Grand Master Flash pay homage to themselves.

Last year I got to see and hear Earth Wind and Fire (at least the last couple of original members with a dozen newbees) play their most famous hits from the 70’s

There is nothing wrong with tribute bands. In fact I’d go as far as to say when music is so great it is played by others, or even the original performers as a tribute it can be wonderful.

There was a time when tribute bands were frowned upon, as being something less than new creations. But having spent a little time today listening to MTV, I’d suggest that most creative innovation in music is highly overrated, and often a tribute is a much better option.

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