The concept of tribute bands involves recreating the songs, sound composition, and performance of a particular artist as a way of honoring their musical talent.
Not to be confused with a cover band, a tribute band typically focuses on only one group, presenting an act that mimics the original’s look and intensity.
The history of tribute bands isn’t as old as some might believe. Nor is it a new phenomenon. However, while it is hard to pinpoint an exact date, tribute bands first came into the limelight in the 1960s.
Today, they are a music industry staple, with thousands of tribute bands worldwide.
While some critics argue about the authenticity of tribute acts, our definitive and complete history of tribute bands shows us that they are torchbearers who help keep the musical legacy of these legendary artists alive.
Tribute Acts – The Beginning
Paying homage to a favorite artist by imitating their persona and songs dates back to when Elvis conquered the music world.
So, it won’t be wrong to state that the very first tribute bands or acts were Elvis impersonators.
These musicians mimicked the mannerisms and singing style of “The King” and were the first to sow the seeds of the soon-to-be widespread trend.
While much disagreement exists on who was the “first” Elvis impersonator, Buddy Ocha often gets the credit as the “original Elvis tribute artist.”
In the late 1950s, Buddy performed his act as a cheerleader at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Upon hearing of Buddy’s performance, Elvis met him in Killeen in 1958. He befriended the young star, who would later have a career in the movies and marketing.
Tribute Bands In The 1960s
The Beatles possibly had the most significant impact on the origin and history of tribute bands.
Up until now, with Elvis impersonators, audiences were privy to “tribute acts” performed, in most cases, by a solo artist.
However, The Beatles led to the creation of bona fide tribute bands, where each group member was responsible for rivaling either John, Paul, George, or Ringo.
Again, like in the case of Elvis, it isn’t easy to point out when and where the first Beatles tribute band started performing. However, the one that stands out is a product of marketing, convenience, and pure luck.
Arguably, the world’s first recognized tribute band is The Buggs, a group that started performing in the mid-1960s.
They certainly sounded like the Beatles and even released an album titled The Beetle Beat with original compositions, as well as cover versions of She Loves You, and I Want To Hold Your Hand.
The album cover of The Beetle Beat was an eye-catching creation, with the group looking like the “fab four” and the words “The Original Liverpool Sound” and “Recorded in England” printed in bold.
But before we immortalize them in this history of tribute bands, here’s the kicker: The album was, in fact, a production from the great state of New Jersey! And the four gentlemen on the cover were not the actual band members. In fact, the group did not even know about the cover photograph.
A marketing ploy that led to many Beatle enthusiasts buying the album unknowingly, it did cement The Buggs’ identity as technically, the first-ever tribute band.
Tribute Bands In The 1970s
The 1960s saw the emergence of more artists imitating Elvis. However, a less obscure rock and roll entertainer and Elvis impersonator was Arkansas-born Bill Haney. He first started doing Elvis tributes in 1972-73.
A regular at Levee Lounge in Memphis, Bill often came across Elvis’ girlfriend, Linda Thompson, and entourage member Charlie Hodge at the bar. During one such performance in 1976, Elvis came to see Bill perform and later invited him to Graceland through Charlie.
Alan: A Tribute to Elvis was another act catching momentum in the 1970s. Alan Meyer was enacting Elvis hits before the singer died, gathering many accolades from the public and press for his voice. Interestingly, Alan did not like being called an impersonator and preferred to label his act as a tribute, focusing only on getting the music right. Eventually, Alan stopped doing the tribute show after Elvis passed away in 1977.
It’s fascinating to note that at the time of Elvis’ death, he had over 170 artists emulating his greatness. However, not every impersonator was a proper tribute. Many looked the part but could not even play the guitar, let alone sing.
There still is some ambiguity with The Buggs being the first-ever tribute band. As such, many believe the Broadway rockumentary Beatlemania from 1977 to 1979 is responsible for the popularity of the tribute band idea.
A show that swept the theatrical landscape of America, it took on a novel production approach. Typically, one music group tours around playing in different cities. However, the showrunners of Beatlemania had a different idea in mind.
Instead of taking the same group everywhere, the producers cut production costs by hiring local Beatles performers at each venue. As a result, by the time Beatlemania ended, multiple small Beatles tribute bands were playing across the country.
Soon enough, “official” tribute acts for various artists started popping up around the planet, with the trend reaching an all-time high right now!
Beatlemania is also possibly the first time a “tribute act” faced legal issues. Apple Corps sued and won over Beatlemania in 1979 LA for their use of various Beatles trademarks.
Tribute Bands – Capturing The 1970s Music Zeitgeist
If the definitive history of tribute bands tells us one thing, it’s that their popularity is directly related to the shift in the musical zeitgeist of the 1970s.
The decade saw the emergence of many iconic rock bands, from Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to The Who.
Furthermore, live concerts, concept albums, and the band members’ larger-than-life attitudes and controversial lifestyles soon led to them becoming household names.
Not surprisingly, as these bands became popular, so did the idea of tribute bands formed by passionate fans wanting to honor the music of their favorites.
The 70s were a time of cultural change and upheaval. Many fans found comfort in the familiar sounds of the past, and tribute bands allowed them to relive the music of their youth.
Tribute bands also gained prominence because of the rise of music festivals like Woodstock and Isle of Wight held towards the end of the 1960s. These festivals featured many of the established artists of the time, and tribute bands offered a way to recreate that experience in a live setting.
From a musician’s point of view, tribute bands were a way to live out a dream, playing songs of artists that shaped the way to their passion. Being in a tribute band also allowed budding artists to showcase their skills and enter the music business.
Unlike the earlier decades, tribute bands were not without controversy in the 1970s. Purists argued that tribute bands copied established artists’ work and lacked natural talent.
While others said that tribute bands were a form of musical nostalgia that stifled creativity and innovation.
Nevertheless, tribute bands in the 1970s were still low-key, performing regionally, and often confused with cover bands. And thus, they did not face too much flack, either from the audiences or the original artists.
But that would change in the later decades.
The 1970s, in the history of tribute bands, is an essential decade as it cemented the concept and gave it a solid footing.
Tribute Bands In The 1980s
One of the main reasons tribute bands became so popular so fast is their commitment to the original group.
An attempt that helped keep the music of greats like ABBA, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and the like alive and discoverable by a new generation of music lovers.
The 1980s, in the history of tribute bands, is an instrumental decade. It was the era when tribute bands truly gained international recognition.
A trend to emerge in this period was concerts held by tribute bands.
Stepping out of the shadows, bands such as Aussie Floyd were no longer content with playing in clubs or homegrown festivals.
Instead, they began the tradition of holding concerts that included concept albums played in their entirety, attracting die-hard Pink Floyd fans.
The MTV Effect
The “Video Killed the Radio Star” telecast on August 1, 1981, proved to be an iconic event in the music world. The launch of MTV allowed audiences to enjoy music while sitting in their living rooms.
One might assume that the need for live concerts would decrease with music so readily available, but the opposite happened. Discovering and watching artists on screen made more and more music lovers want to see them in a live setting.
Since many original music groups were either not touring or had disbanded, concerts by tribute bands provided this new breed of music enthusiasts a chance to experience emulated live performances.
The 1980s brought up another debatable issue: whether tribute bands are legal?
The popularity of tribute bands and their holding concerts in large venues raised questions about copyright infringement. Some established artists did not want tribute bands to perform their music, and they took legal action to prevent them from doing so.
Although more talked about court cases took place in the following years, it was in the 1980s that the legality of tribute bands indeed came under the scanner.
The Best Tribute Bands Of The 1980s
The 1980s had some of the most influential tribute bands take the stage. While their initial years were no less an uphill climb, many of these are among the most well-known tribute bands in the world, even today.
The Bootleg Beatles
The self-labeled “cover band” started in London in 1980, focusing on the music of The Beatles. Since then, they have performed over 4500 shows around the globe. The original lineup might have changed, but the band is still known for its attention to detail.
The Australian ABBA Show is undoubtedly the one you want to watch when looking for the best ABBA tribute band. Rod Stephen started the tribute band in Melbourne, with the first Björn Again show dating back to 1989. They’ve been in the business for over 32 years and have performed 5300 shows across 72 countries. The shows last over two hours, feature flamboyant costumes and include the greatest hits of ABBA and full audience participation.
Aussie Floyd started in Adelaide in 1988 and has since developed into one of the top Pink Floyd tribute bands. Not surprisingly, they have a passionate fanbase that defies land borders. Extraordinarily brilliant, they present near-original arrangements with the zeal and passion of Pink Floyd. The group plays entire concept albums with visuals and lasers.
One of the earliest groups in the history of tribute bands to play around with the original sound, Dread Zeppelin gives the legendary band’s songs a reggae twist. Assembled in Pasadena, California, in 1989, they honor the concept’s origins through their frontman, a 300-pound Elvis impersonator. Robert Plant is a fan, and the band was briefly in the 1994 comedy film National Lampoon’s Last Resort.
One interesting observation in the history of tribute bands is the high concentration of such groups in 1980s Australia.
With fewer original artists willing to perform concerts Down Under, Australia saw a significant rise in homegrown tribute bands. As such, even now, most of the world’s best tribute bands come from Australia.
Tribute Bands In The 1990s
Tribute bands grew in popularity because they offered fans the chance to connect with their favorite artists in a way it was not possible before.
While getting tickets to see the original artists in concert was often tricky, tribute bands offered a nearly identical experience in a more intimate setting.
The 1990s saw the continuation of the tribute band scene and the origin of tribute acts for newer artists, such as Green Day and Pearl Jam.
These tribute acts comprised younger band members eager to play the music of their icons. The popularity of such tribute bands further demonstrated the enduring appeal of these newer artists and their music.
Interestingly, on the one hand, critics around this time thought that tribute bands took away attention and revenue from newer artists and contributed to the homogenization of popular music.
However, one particular incident showcased how several original artists were more than happy with their tribute bands and the talent they nurtured.
From Tribute To Original
One of the legendary stories around tribute bands is that of Tim Owens. A Judas Priest tribute band member, he was picked up by the actual group in 1995 when their lead singer Rob Halford left the band.
An event immortalized when it became the main plotline of the 2001 movie Rock Star, starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston.
Similar stories would repeat in the coming years.
We’d be remiss if we failed to mention arguably one of the most famous “tribute-to-original band” performers, the uber-talented vocalist Arnel Pineda, when talking about the history of tribute bands. Arnel was singing cover versions of Journey in Manila, posting them on YouTube, when he received an email from Neal Schon. He would eventually go from performing in a hotel lobby in the Philippines to fronting one of the most legendary classic rock acts of all time. A documentary of his rise to fame, “Everyman’s Journey“, is available to stream.
Another example is that of David Victor, who impressed BOSTON with his cover versions of their songs. David would then tour with the group from 2012 to 2014
The Most Notable Tribute Bands Of The 1990s
In the history of tribute bands, the 1990s gave us some genuinely legendary tribute artists. At the same time, we also saw the beginning of more gimmicky bands and solo tribute acts that brought more to the table than just the sounds of the original performers.
Titled the ‘hottest littlest band in the world,” MiniKiss is the brainchild of the Fatale brothers. From its founding in 1996, this band comprises four smaller guys that dress up like KISS. They are also in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Shorted Band (Male).” The history of tribute bands is dotted with plenty of controversies, and not all are with original artists. For instance, in 2006, there was news about MiniKiss and rival tribute band TinyKiss ending up in a dispute at Hard Rock Hotel, LA.
Dark Star Orchestra
Formed in 1997, this Grateful Dead tribute band is popularly known as “DSO” among fans. They perform entire Grateful Dead shows, from start to end, with the same set lists, design, and sound. Over the years, six members of the Grateful Dead have been on stage with DSO. While DSO has been to various locations in the US, Caribbean, and Europe, they are one of the few tribute bands to host its own festival, Dark Star Jubilee. The three-night event consists of DSO headlining along with several other artists.
The Fab Four
Founded in 1997 by Ron McNeil, The Fab Four is a California-based group Beatles tribute band. The group is known for playing the entire Beatles songbook as well as solo singles of the band members. Emmy nominated for their PBS Special performance, The Fab Four – The Ultimate Tribute, in 2013, they continue to pack venues with sold-out concerts. Although this Beatles tribute band has seen many-a-member shuffle over time, they are as close to the original in sound and look as can be.
George Michael lookalike Rob Lamberti is among the most well-known tribute acts out there at the moment. So similar is Rob to George in look and mannerisms that a leading UK newspaper published his photo by mistake instead of the English singer and songwriter. That Rob has authentic vocal styling, which resembles George Michael, further makes his tribute all that special. George Michael secretly saw Rob perform once in Harrow in 1997. These days, Rob sings songs from George Michael’s solo career and some from his time in WHAM!
UK Blues Brothers
Another fun episode in the history of tribute bands includes members of a UK Blues Brother tribute band who went as far as changing their names officially to Jake and Elwood in 1998. Moreover, they wore black suits and shades in their passport photographs and drove around in a 1974 Dodge Monaco –talk about commitment!
Tribute Bands In The 2000s
By the beginning of the 21st century, tribute bands were an integral part of the live music industry.
Many labeled tribute bands as “glorified cover artists.” But music lovers with a penchant for detail knew the truth was far from it.
Thanks to technically impressive and in-depth performances of tribute bands, audiences could experience the dynamic atmosphere of artists like Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Styx, AC/DC, The Beatles, and Queen in a concert.
Another reason for the rise of tribute bands was that they could tour smaller cities. The more established and famous bands hardly ever held concerts in such places.
Another significant step in the history of tribute bands was that by the 2000s, there was a clear difference between cover bands and tribute acts. The latter were performers generally focusing solely on a particular group, emulating every aspect from vocal style and idiosyncrasies to costumes and set designs.
This specialization allowed tribute bands to cater to specific audiences and provide a more authentic experience. However, a few bands thought that providing a more all-encompassing musical/historical variety show would go over even better than the single-artist tribute bands.
Multi-Artist Tribute Shows
Sometimes, tribute artists are so welded to their image or vocal style, that there is only a single artist to whom they could ever pay realistic tribute. But others feel love for multiple artists and acts, and have the versatility either as part of their DNA or cleverly baked into their act. Let’s look at a few of these multi-tribute artists.
The most successful of the multi-tribute artists are undoubtedly Minnesota-based Hairball. This band pays convincing tribute to hard rock artists as diverse as Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Van Halen, Queen, Metallica, Guns ‘n Roses and even Ozzy! With production arguably as big as some internationally touring stadium acts, Hairball recreates the sounds and the sights of these legendary artists. Realizing early on that the costume changes would be the biggest challenge, the band opted for a clever (if hard to find!) solution of having multiple frontmen who would change clothes between acts, while another frontman was performing. This kept the show’s momentum at a breakneck pace, while still giving the most iconic of characters (David Lee Roth, Axl Rose, Ozzy, etc.) their just due. Hairball has proven staggeringly successful and still tours relentlessly.
Without realizing it, in 2007, David Victor’s Platinum Rockstars took roughly the same route as Hairball, performing the greatest hits of bands like Journey, Van Halen, BOSTON, Foreigner and more, all in one show. The only difference was that the vocalist would hurriedly change costumes between each set, which consisted of the best 3-4 songs from each act. While David changed, the band cleverly wove various signature riffs from the greatest rock hits together. These medleys ultimately became the true essence of the show, as full or significant sections of the songs were integrated into a crowd-pleasing, rockin’ good time. The band still performs on occasion.
Other bands have tried this “multi-tribute” route and garnered limited success, as most live music fans, for whatever reason, really, really, really seem to want to see just a single band’s greatest hits and the deeper album cuts. Of course, promoters love it too because a single band tribute is easy to explain.
The Immortalization Of Tribute Bands
May 14, 2000, is an important date in the history of tribute bands.
It is the date when tribute bands officially became a part of pop culture.
“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge” is the Simpsons episode featuring Cyanide, a Poison cover band.
In it, when asked to choose between his soon-to-be-wife and heavy metal, Otto calls off the wedding and heads off with the band on a school bus.
Tribute bands got another boost when, in 2008, David Letterman featured Super Diamond (Neil Diamond), Mr. Brownstone (Guns’ N’ Roses), Battery (Metallica), Draw The Line (Aerosmith), and other tribute bands on his nightly show for an entire week.
The result of tribute band acceptance led to a new trend, tribute festivals and tribute cruises.
These small-scale concerts featured multiple tribute bands performing over a weekend or several days.
The annual Tribute Fest began in 2009 and is among the most well-known tribute festivals today.
Held over three days, it features an extensive lineup of tribute acts ranging from classic rock and metal bands to pop and country artists.
The Best Tribute Bands Of The 2000s
A quick look at the definitive history of tribute bands demonstrates that, Pop, Rock, and Metal have been the leading contenders among the top tribute band genres. However, it was in the 2000s that tribute acts across varied genres, from contemporary and jazz to blues, bluegrass, and soft rock, started to pop up worldwide. And tribute bands finally started to show some…dare we say it, originality?
The Iron Maidens, an award-winning southern California tribute band, started performing in 2001. It didn’t take long for them to rise in the circuit thanks to powerful stage performances, top-of-the-line music representation, and the fact that they are an all-female Iron Maiden tribute. Add to that the professionalism, stage presence and incredible musicianship of the band members, and this is one act that will leave you rocking to no end.
Starting in 2001, Beatallica is still active and does a rather exciting mash-up of the Beatles and Metallica. The music is undoubtedly unique, as are their album names – Abbey Load, Sgt. Hetfield’s Motorbreath Pub Band, and more. At the heart of this tribute band is idolizing music but also having fun along the way.
Considered among the best Queen acts in the history of tribute bands, Bohemian Queen burst onto the scene in 2019 and has rapidly outshone even the long-time stalwarts of Queen tribute bands. Freddie Mercury soundalike and lookalike Paulie Z completely destroy the impersonators with a “killer” stage presence, transitioning seamlessly between operatic vocal gymnastics, studied Freddie-isms and Paulie’s own charming (and totally disarming) humor and New Jersey accent. Bohemian Queen performs all their vocals 100% live, even tackling the vocally-terrifying “Bohemian Rhapsody” live, something the actual Queen never attempted live. The band also includes two former members (keyboardist Victor Bender and guitarist Steve Zukowski) of what was the world’s very first Queen tribute band, Sheer Heart Attack, which formed in the early 1990s.
Who’s Bad – Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience
Famous as the “longest-running Michael Jackson tribute,” Who’s Bad started their act in 2003 under the guidance of founder and producer Vamsi Tadepalli. Over the past two decades, they have crisscrossed the globe, performing over 2500 shows. Fans at Who’s Bad concerts are particularly impressed with lead singers James Times and Tallib York’s Jackson-like dance moves and vocals.
Red Hot Chili Pipers
Started in 2004, Red Hot Chili Pipers is a Scottish tribute band that plays Celtic Rock with bagpipes, guitars, keyboards, and drums. Their brand of fusion music is famously known as “bagrock.” Dressed in kilts, Red Hot Chili Pipers perform close to 200 live shows every year. During their performances, the group plays Red Hot Chili Pepper classics and songs by other artists.
Are Tribute Bands Legal?
One of the most controversial topics sprinkled across the history of tribute bands is the question of their legality. This debate reached its pinnacle in the 2000s.
During this decade, a few infamous litigations against tribute bands made headlines.
Beatallica, the now legendary Metallica-meets-Beatles tribute band, had to face the wrath of Sony Music’s legal team in 2005. Sony wanted the band to take down their website and pay damages for “ripping” Beatles songs that they owned. Beatallica eventually won the case thanks to the intervention of Metallica’s founder and drummer, Lars Ulrich.
Another much-talked-about legal affair occurred in 2009 between Bon Jovi and the all-female tribute band Blonde Jovi. The suit stated that the tribute was using Bon Jovi’s trademarked “Heart and Dagger” logo in their advertising (definitely a no-no). The result of the copyright infringement suit wasn’t as rosy as for Beatallica. Blonde Jovi initially changed their name to Blonde Jersey but eventually stopped performing in 2010.
Globalization Of Tribute Bands
While litigation trouble continued for some, tribute bands became common at private events, from thematic weddings or birthday celebrations to corporate events and festivals.
In part, the widespread use of the internet towards the latter half of the 2000s and the following decade allowed tribute bands to market themselves globally. And with competition amongst tribute bands growing, those with a well-planned digital marketing strategy were able to amass a more extensive fan base.
Towards the end of the 2000s, the true globalization of tribute bands took place. Groups such as Aussie Floyd, Björn Again, and the like started holding sell-out concerts in different parts of the planet. The success of international concerts and tours proved to be another instrumental episode in the history of tribute bands.
Not surprisingly, with these world tours came better organization, more intensive preparations, and productions that wowed audiences and often made them forget whether they were watching real artists or a tribute band.
Tribute Bands In The 2010s
By the end of the 2000s, tribute bands had become the go-to choice amongst event organizers. However, the inclusion of tribute bands in commercials and advertising once again brought up the issue of what’s authentic and what’s not.
In what could be termed marketing genius, and definitely, a push in favor of tribute bands, Dr. Pepper’s Superbowl advert in 2010 featured not only the legendary Kiss but also LittleKiss.
In the history of tribute bands, the 2010s is when the concept encapsulated the entire entertainment industry. A prime example was the integration of tribute bands into cruise ship entertainment.
U2 tribute band LA Vacation, Bon Jovi tribute bands Slippery When When and Wanted, and the cover band Rookie from Toronto are some of the leading performers in the cruise circuit right now.
Technology And Tribute Bands
The start of the 2010s was a turning point in the history of tribute bands.
It was the decade when technology helped enhance the performance of tribute bands.
Many acts, such as Brit Floyd, started incorporating visuals, such as projections and light shows, to provide a more immersive experience for fans.
At the same time, Tupac Shakur’s hologram performance at the 2012 Coachella music festival became a game-changing revelation. The headlining act, which included Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, was the talk of the town for months.
It was a technology made for tribute bands who could possibly add a sense of reality to their concerts now. When one looks at the history of tribute bands, this could very well have been a defining moment.
Sadly, that was not the case to be.
While using hologram technology to bring deceased artists back to life was a great way to impress fans, the artists’ estates continued to guard the hologram rights feverishly.
So, by the end of the decade, tribute bands had a new form of competition, hologram concerts.
Although these events lack the intensity of real people singing and audience interaction, hologram concerts of Roy Orbison, Frank Zappa, Whitney Huston, and Amy Winehouse have been highly successful over the past few years.
Tribute Band Recognition
Recognition for tribute bands came in many forms during the 2010s.
On the one hand, it wasn’t uncommon for tribute bands to have their groupies. These fans wore customized shirts and attended concerts religiously.
The decade also saw younger audiences attending concerts. This shift was a significant stamp of approval for tribute bands, who were clearly starting to attract music lovers beyond the initial nostalgic factor.
In terms of worldwide popularity, the history of tribute bands saw another bump with the launch of The Tribute Show. Started in 2012 and slated as the first ever of its kind, the Australian TV show featured the best tribute bands from across the globe. The show, in particular, provided artists with a medium to display their talent to the broader public.
Tribute acts got further coverage through the TV series The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands, which ran for eight seasons from 2013 to 2017. Hosted by Katy Daryl, the series included tribute band concerts at famous venues across LA.
Some popular tribute bands featured in the series were The Fab Four, Led Zepagain, The Police Experience, Purple Reign, Britain’s Finest, and Almost Queen.
Best Tribute Bands Of The 2010s
The success of a tribute band depends on how well they reproduce the sound and the performance of the original artists. throughout the history of tribute bands, die-hard fans have expected performers to simulate every minor detail of their favorite music group.
At the same time, many tribute bands aren’t afraid to give the original songs a distinct appeal. These groups push the boundaries and often create a new sound that is both familiar and unique at the same time.
David Victor formerly of BOSTON: The Hits of BOSTON & More
If there’s ever a doubt about a tribute band being “good enough”, having a former band member fronting the band will generally quell the doubters. David Victor was a BOSTON band member from 2012 to 2014, performing on tour as co-lead vocalist and 3rd guitarist. He also recorded lead vocals on the band’s 2014 #1 single, “Heaven on Earth.” Originally known as “BOSTYX”, the band started life as a combination BOSTON and Styx music show, as former drummer Glenn Jost did a more-than-capable job at the Dennis DeYoung operatic vocal style. Glenn left the band to pursue original music and join Bohemian Queen, so now David Victor formerly of BOSTON faithfully delivers all the BOSTON hits and best of the deep cuts, and you’ll also hear the best of David’s original music during the show.
The Doors In Concert
Taking inspiration from live performances and bootlegs, this Doors tribute band, started in 2010, has a rawness to their recitals that die-hard fans will empirically appreciate. The Doors in Concert takes much pride in duplicating the authentic sound, feel, and atmosphere of a Doors concert. Moreover, Doors in Concert uses the exact same instruments, microphones, and amplifiers as the band did in the 60s and 70s, showcasing a high level of commitment to the music.
Tyson Kelly started the Beatles tribute, “Britain’s Finest“, in 2011, which is today one of the leading Beatles tribute acts in the history of Beatles tributes. The band certainly goes out of their way to look, sing and even speak the part – yes, they do British accents in concert! Robert Bielma (George Harrison), Tyson Kelly (John Lennon), Luis Renteria (Ringo Starr), and Benjamin Chadwick (Paul McCartney) appear on stage in classic bowl haircuts and Beatles-esque styling, creating an atmosphere that rivals Beatlemania. If you plan to book a Beatles tribute band anytime soon, look no further than these four mop tops.
Ian Clownfish, Hook, Bernard Salmon, and Steve Moray are not items on a seafood menu but the names of band members who play in Koi Division, a Joy Division tribute band. The LA-based group has a somewhat eccentric personality, incorporating melody with individual quirkiness. While serious about the music of Joy Division, band members wear fish masks during routines. They’ve also somewhat altered the songs to stay in tune with the band’s overall fish theme. Gimmicky? Yes! But also a whole lotta fun.
Michael Jackson One
Michael Jackson One is a totally novel and fantastical tribute to the “King of Pop.” Performed by the famous Cirque du Soleil, it consists of 63 entertainers presenting MJ’s all-time favorites. Expect music, dance, lasers, acrobatics, and an all-around extravaganza that will have you at the edge of your seat. Could this be where tribute bands are going in the future? Perhaps, though they’ll always be fans that are content just to hear the music performed live.
Tribute Bands… Moving Forward
The definitive history of tribute bands wouldn’t be complete without a mention of what the future holds.
To put it simply, the future of tribute bands is bright.
No wonder one hears of new tribute acts every other day.
The fact remains that tribute bands present music enthusiasts with the perfect opportunity to relish an almost authentic concert experience.
They keep the music of disbanded artists alive and simultaneously introduce new generations to some of the most legendary music groups ever.
Naturally, tickets for tribute bands are less expensive, and you can book tribute bands for private events.
From Original to Tribute Band – And Back Again.
Another sign of the increasing tribute band fandom is that more and more original artists are associating themselves with tribute acts in one way or another.
Drummer Ian Anderson Paice, for instance, toured with Deep Purple tribute band Purpendicular several times from 2002 up to 2019.
Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, original members of the Grateful Dead, started the band Furthur in 2009. For the ensemble, they called upon John Kadlecik from Dark Star Orchestra to play Jerry Garcia’s guitar sections. Although the band only lasted till 2014, Kadlecik still sometimes performs with Phil Lesh’s group.
PTB founder David Victor has now come full circle. Once a tribute band artist performing with the BOSTON tribute band “Smokin'”, he joined BOSTON from 2012 to 2014 and came back to headlining his own tribute act.
Music is an integral part of everyone’s lives, and a tribute band often evokes that right kind of nostalgia while taking you on a musical joyride like no other.
FAQs About Tribute Bands!
The history of tribute bands tells us that many times original artists do not like being “copied.” So, how do tribute bands get to play so many songs without copyright issues?
Across the US, most bars and clubs pay a licensing fee that allows them to play various songs. This includes live performances by tribute bands on their property. In the UK, the bands share a list of songs and get distributors’ licenses before they can perform at various venues.
Even though a tribute band might have a license to sing certain songs, original artists can still prosecute them for copyright infringement based on appearance and idiosyncrasies. However, the process is lengthy and expensive. And it requires a new case for each tribute band, which is why, generally speaking, original bands do not bother with legal action. But as we’ve noted above in our definitive history, you never know which original artists will approve a tribute act and which one will send a cease and desist notice.
The growing fame of popular tribute bands in the world allows them to tour various cities and countries. However, most new and rising groups form partnerships with local bars and clubs and frequently play at the same few venues. Additionally, they make money through bookings for weddings, local festivals, and corporate events.
Investment into running a tribute band varies dramatically. Some groups stick to the basics, focusing on the sound. While others, like the Pink Floyd tribute band Beyond the Darkside, organize multi-million dollar shows featuring spectacular quadraphonic sound, laser lights, and theme-based visuals.