I was stuck. I don’t know how you can get writer’s block when you only have to write a few paragraphs a week, but I was having trouble. Conversations with my wife Susan and messaging with my buddy Dave provided kernels of ideas, but nothing that has fully popped yet. Those will show up here eventually though.
I was reading a new blog post by my friend and former coworker Deanna King at CynicalMother.com when inspiration struck me. No, her tale of self discovery, and attempting to overcome the doubt and negativity affecting her life isn’t making me dig down deep into soul to reveal some inner truth. That’s all well and good for Deanna, but I’m just not that smart or self aware. It was something else on her page that gave me the idea I needed.
Off to the side was a list of titles for her previous blog entries, and one of those was “Leather Tuscadero”. While her story was about buying leather pants (and ultimately being disappointed in the fashion choice) it immediately got my mind thinking about my favorite fake bands, including the one fronted by the Happy Days tough girl, played by real life rocker Suzi Quatro.
Now that my brain is unblocked I feel like I could write a thousand words about each of these dubious groups, but I’ll take a shot at something new to me… brevity. Even though I’m going to try to give you just a sentence or two about each of my favorite fake bands I want you to know that I’m happy to have a nice long conversation about any of them (but that conversation will have to be online until further notice).
Leather and the Suedes… The group that inspired this post. The producers of Happy Days did a great job in the casting of Suzi Quatro as Leather, the younger sister of Fonzie’s girlfriend Pinky Tuscadero. The Cunninghams should have let Joanie join The Suedes… a spinoff featuring the band would’ve been way cooler than the one that had her and Chachi moving to Chicago with his mother and Al. I loved the TV version of Quatro’s single “Devil Gate Drive”.
The Monkees… I personally don’t consider them a fake band… I think they are a real band deserving of being in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. I’m including them on this list as a nod to the public perception of the group… sort of like 99.99% of people in the United States pronounce karaoke as “Care-ee-okee” I don’t see anything resembling that “ee” sound in the middle of that word. Do you?
The Blues Brothers… Another act on that bubble between real and fake. Sure Jake and Elwood Blues were characters created by a couple actor/comedians for a TV show (and eventually a movie), but they released albums, toured, and had a band made up of some of the best musicians in America.
The Commitments… I guess I really like soul cover bands created for celluloid. Again, the members real could sing and play. Again, they toured following the success of the film’s soundtrack (I saw them right here in Rochester). I’m going to say something sacrilegious here… I love some of their covers just as much as the originals by legends like Otis, Aretha, and Wilson. I highly recommend both the movie and the albums.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch… First a play, and then a movie by writer/director/actor by John Cameron Mitchell. I won’t give you any spoilers on this twenty year old movie, but I will tell you that the band that it’s titled for rocks. Midnight Radio, Tear Me Down, and especially Origin Of Love are OST highlights. If you are a Bowie fan this is for you.
Sex Bob-Omb… Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a criminally underrated, under seen movie based on a cult favorite comic book. The first time I saw it I immediately rewatched it. One of the many things I loved about it was the music… especially the songs played by Sex Bob-Omb (of which Scott Pilgrim is the guitarist) as they battle other bands (and various evil exes) all over Toronto. The songs were written by Beck (the one best known for his 90s hit “Loser”, not the guy that used to be on the radio here in Rochester).
Spinal Tap… This Is Spinal Tap is one of the greatest comedies in film history. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Rob Reiner created a band and a world that was 100% believable. Can humor be subtle and over the top at the same time? They pull it off. The songs themselves are perfect parodies of heavy metal songs while being great songs in their own right.
Mitch and Mickey… You have a heart of ice if you don’t get choked up at the Eugene Levy-Catherine O’Hara’s performance of “Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow” during the climax of A Mighty Wind.
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem… Anytime the Muppet band had a chance to breakout into song was a highlight of a TV show or movie. Who doesn’t love Animal on drums? I do have a Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem t-shirt, but I still need to see them in concert… Can you picture that? Check out the video here.
The Wonders… The title track from That Thing You Do might be the best song of 1996.
The Partridge Family… A sitcom family based on The Cowsills provided some of my favorite music ever. I own the entire discography. David Cassidy had a fantastic voice… combine that with great songwriters, plus The Wrecking Crew playing the instruments and you’ve pop perfection.
Josie and the Pussycats… Whether it’s in comic books, the 70s cartoon series, the 2001 Rachel Leigh Cook/Rosario Dawson/Tara Reid movie, or the current version on the TV show “Riverdale” I’m a big fan of these female pop rockers. The movie soundtrack is outstanding, with Josie’s vocals provided by Letters To Cleo lead singer Kay Hanley. Did you know there are albums featuring the songs from the cartoons? Would it shock you if I told you I had them? Future Charlie’s Angel Cheryl Ladd was one of the singing voices on those.
The Archies… This list might not exist if not for The Archies. They are the OG fake band. There are plenty of songs besides Sugar Sugar, but even if that was all there was that’d be enough to put them at the top of the heap. I was disappointed that before Record Archive temporarily closed because of the virus I didn’t get a chance to purchase the recent limited edition greatest hits release on blue vinyl. Luckily it was still there for me when the store reopened. If you also want a copy click here.
There are plenty of others I could include on this list, but with apologies to The Banana Splits, Jessie and the Rippers, The Fabulous Stains, Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, and many others I have to go. My cat just walked up to me and sneezed in my face, so I have to dunk my head in a bucket of bleach. -Billy