“Thank you and good night”. It’s almost as if these bands decided to quit before they could get up to take their rightful places on the musical centre stage.
Not that it was all fate; there were screw-ups too, in clashing egos, unresponsive record labels, and sometimes, just bad timing.
So, if ever there was anyone who told you that it was all about the talent, you know they lied. Here are 5 not-so-obvious failures in music who disprove that theory.
5. HUMBLE PIE
Humble Pie could’ve been Led Zeppelin. Their first album, As Safe As Yesterday, is the first documented instance of the Heavy Metal sound. They had good acoustic sets too, with renowned guitarists, Peter Frampton and Steve Marriot, in their line-up. But with Dee Anthony taking over the production reins and Peter Frampton leaving to embrace his destiny of being every teenage girl’s wet dream in ‘72, Humble Pie regressed into a fairly conventional, unremarkable version of heavy rock.
It was especially true on their Smokin’ album, following Frampton’s departure. They toured extensively, but were never top draw. Even that ended when Marriot crushed his hand in 1978 and threw their touring schedule out of whack. The band soon disbanded, and all that remains are classics like I Don’t Need No Doctor, and revivals that can’t seem to get past false starts.
4. THE YARDBIRDS
The suspicion with The Yardbirds – especially for the newer generation of rock lovers – remains that all their retrospective fame and glory has been mostly because of individual band members’ exploits after their Yardbird careers faded, like the band itself.
Which is a great debt to music in itself, because this was the band that incubated three guitarists who made the top 20 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 greatest guitarists; Eric Clapton at no.4, Jimmy Page at no.9, and Jeff Beck at no.17. But for all that brilliance, The Yardbirds never seemed to rise above the ego clashes between bassist Chris Dreja, and frontman, Keith Relf. Their bickering threatened to topple each and every tour, in spite of the positive reviews the band got.
It eventually did, when both of them reneged on a planned tour of the US in 1968. That tour obligation was finally fulfilled by Jimmy Page and his new line-up, who’d be renamed Led Zeppelin later that same year. The Yardbirds were no more, and no one cried.
3. SLASH’S SNAKEPIT
Some bands always remain ‘side projects’. Public perception can be so strong, that even righteous claims can get clouded out. While Slash wheezed through solos as guitarist for the highest-grossing band of its time, on an elaborate World Tour, he became so inseparable to the idea of Guns N Roses that even his longtime fans weren’t prepared to give Slash’s Snakepit a serious shot at winning their hearts and souls.
It was because we knew that wasn’t to be the apex of the man’s achievements, and so did the record companies. In fact, Slash was forced into the studio with Guns ‘N’ Roses, even after it was clear that Axl Rose and he had reached a point of no return, because Geffen Records just wanted to ride the big wave of popularity that they still enjoyed.
That initial myopia eventually cost Slash’s Snakepit a long term future, even after Slash finally quit Guns ‘N’ Roses. His collaborators had true credentials, like Mike Inez from Alice In Chains and guitar acolyte, Gilby Clarke, but it never really came together. Slash finally disbanded the Snakepit, citing lack of professionalism as the driving factor.
2. SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER
Leigh Nash and guitarist Matt Collum, as primary songwriters for Sixpence None The Richer, seem to share a very spiritual chemistry, exemplified in the tonality of his guitar and her voice; like friends in arms, riding away together.
Why Sixpence None The Richer never managed to sustain the successes of early hits, like “There She Goes” and “Kiss Me”, does baffle, but can be explained. Sure, we’re all cleverer in hindsight, but there was something ruinous about the band signing its first record deal with the severely limited Squint Entertainment. So, while the band charted success, the record label went under. Their album ‘Divine Discontent’ got caught in the limbo, seeing light of day in 2002, two years too late.
These setbacks seemed to have taken a toll as the band called it quits in late 2004, only for them to regroup in 2007, and start off on another similar series of mistakes. Their newest album ‘Strange Conversations’ is already six-months overdue because the band’s current label, Credential Recordings, can’t get their act together.
1. FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS
The mushrooming Britpop scene of the ‘80s deserves more credit for spawning acts like ‘Fine Young Cannibals’. They weren’t the trendsetters, like A-ha or Wham, but had a solid base from which to pursue their music.
As their first popular single, “Johnny Come Home” started a climb up the charts in 1985, the band had left most of their Birmingham ethnicities behind. But for what, really? The popularity they garnered with frequent American TV performances, were liquidated by their unnecessary appearances in Hollywood inanities like Tin Men and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid.
The band did return with MTV staple, “She Drives Me Crazy”, but by the end of the ‘80s, they seemed to have run out of mojo; or at least, the world had caught up. They finally disbanded in 1992, briefly getting back together to release their Greatest Hits compilation in 1996, The Finest. But by then, we were already way past reminiscing.