The Most Unfortunate Side Effect Of Playing In A Cover Band And How Alex Chilton Brought "Sugar Sugar" Back From The Dead!

I'm a musician...have been all my life, but I can count the number of cover tunes I've played live, or on record, is in the low double-digits. I knew before I ever picked up an instrument that I wanted to get a record deal and the only way to do that as a rocker was to write and perform your own material. My buddy Dean, on the other hand, took that other fork in the road and has been playing in cover bands all his adult life. His last band was one of those Boogie Nights-type disco tribute bands that "had a steady gig in Vegas for two years". By "Vegas", of course, he means Henderson, but I digress.

Anyway, on our last trip to catch some dinner and a movie, I pop a CD of some of the stuff I've been listening to lately into his CD player and he just starts to completely go nuts over some Birthday Massacre or Foxy Shazam. What's going on here, I wonder. Out loud. "Oh, sorry, it's just so refreshing to hear music I haven't played to death in one of my cover bands."

And then I thought of all the Van Halen cover band members who probably can no longer stand to listen to the vintage Halen they'd loved all their life. How sad that must be.

And suddenly I remember that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach when my first band forced ourselves to learn a handful of cover tunes in order to increase our chances of getting booked into one of the cover bars in town (all we had were cover bars). Every song we did back then is still dead to me. Playing it ten times in rehearsal and twice onstage was enough to rip the soul out of songs that I once loved: "This Time" by INXS, Hoodoo Gurus' "Bittersweet", and even "Sugar Sugar", for crying out loud.

Imagine how much worse that must be for my buddy Dean. Every song he hears on the radio or in the grocery store is probably a song he has played quite often at one time or another.

"You're the only friend whose music I don't already know inside and out," he adds. "Hell, I wish these songs had been popular because they'd be a heckuva lot more fun to play than 'Funkytown', that's for damn sure."

Alex Chilton
I know times can get tough from time to time for the musician driven to make ends meet, but if that's not reason enough to avoid playing in a cover band a all costs, I don't know what is.

Don't get wrong, I love hearing great cover versions. Heck, it was Alex Chilton's cover of the tune (posted above) that restored my love of the Archies classic after the last band I was in took my suggestion and actually put it in the set list, much to my later chagrin when I started turning the station anytime it came on the radio.

I still can't listen to the original, because Alex's version is just so delicious that I had to share it. You're welcome.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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