The Other Guys

Throughout the history of rock-and-roll and its various genres (you know what they are), the ‘group’ is the unit that has the most cache. Sure, solo artists are fine and dandy, but for most of us, it’s the groups that give us more thrills. (I mean, Mick Jagger solo vs. the Rolling Stones – no contest, am I right?)

For many people, the ‘group’ evokes a certain membership. When you say The Beatles, most everyone thinks of John, Paul, George, and Ringo – not Pete Best or Stu Sutcliffe. And while The Steve Miller Band is a working band, really since Boz Scaggs left Miller became the sole creative force and utilized different musicians for his ‘band’ as he mainly saw fit, especially after 1973. There are bands, like Blood, Sweat and Tears and the Soft Machine, that haven’t had any stability at all. So I can’t really say they have OTHER GUYS, realistically?

So this is a running list of bands that had OTHER GUYS in them at some point. I tried to give various phases of when ‘the other guy’ was around as follows to give myself a guide:

Stage One – In the band when they got some notice, maybe a demo and a support tour or an independent 45, but not on any album recordings. Not someone who just showed up once or twice on stage.

Stage Two – In the band for an album, maybe two, but left before they were popular or noticed. They’re kicking themselves hard.

Stage Three – In the band for a while, but left before they became big (ish), or at least known by more than zealots. They have fans who prefer their work to ‘the new guy’.

Stage Four – In the band in the middle of their career, but was just ‘there’ and filled a spot before they replaced him with someone else. Usually a studio guy wanting a steady check.

Stage Five – In the band at the bitter end, after the glory has faded and the band is reduced to casinos, state fairs, and nostalgia. I’ll only put people here who have recorded or made an impact, not just schlubs on the touring band to make the numbers. Usually someone who needs a gig and doesn’t mind playing 30 year old songs to retirees.

Got it? Good. Let’s go…

Sonic Youth (Normal: Moore/Gordon/Ranaldo/Shelley) – Early on, they went through drummers like Bob Bert, Richard Edson, and Jim Sclavunos, who were all part of the NYC No-Wave scene of artists. Comparing their skill to Shelley isn’t fair – as SY usually wrote songs knowning their drummers were meh in the past. Later, as they tried to broaden their sound they added noted indie producer Jim O’Rourke, and then as O’Rourke drifted away they took in former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold until they went paws up.

The Beach Boys (Normal: B. Wilson, D. Wilson, C. Wilson, Jardine, Love) – David Marks replaced Al Jardine early on when Jardine went to college, but when Al returned Marks was quickly shown the door. Bruce Johnston replaced Brian Wilson on tour on a permanent basis, and also recorded with them in studio from 1966 through 1972 and then came back in 1978 at Brian’s request. They’ve had scads of touring members (Daryl Dragon, Glen Campbell, John Stamos (of course), but the only two who were really ‘in the band’ were Ricky Fataar (who filled in for Dennis Wilson on drums, and later was Stig O’Hara in the Rutles) and Blondie Chaplin – who you recognize as the lead in “Sail on Sailor”.

The Who (Normal: Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle, Moon) – They failed an audition in 1964 with Doug Sandom on the drums. Thankfully, they found Keith Moon. After Moon died, former Faces drummer Kenney Jones was recruited for the thankless task of replacing Moon. The Who have used touring musicians for a long time after their first ‘breakup’ and Jones wasn’t asked back, but only Pino Palladino and John “Rabbit’ Bundrick fully contributed to an album (and in Bundrick’s case, many albums). So they count.

Journey (Normal: Perry, Schon, Valory, Rollie or Cain, Dunbar or Smith) – Here, you have dealer’s choice on the drummer or keyboard player of your choice, since they really were equally important to the groups fame. But way back in the day George Tickner was the second guitarist with Schon until he decided medical school would be a better alternative. After their peak, they fired Valory and Smith, and Randy Jackson (yes, the American Idol judge) was installed as bass player for, at the time, their final the album and tour. (The drummers were a seat warmer.) The final core five reunited (Ca$h Grab), but then Perry got hurt and Smith wanted to play jazz and the rest toured and recorded with Steve Augeri on vocals and Deen Castronovo on drums. Augeri was replaced by Ariel Pineda when vocal problems arose, and now, finally, Smith rejoined as Castronovo was arrested for violence against a woman after having a domestic violence charge against him in 2012.

Roxy Music (Normal: Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay, Thompson, Gustafson, Jobson) – Well, Roxy Music ran through bassists like they were exploding on stage. For whatever reason, they kept rotating them. Early on, Roger Bunn and Dexter Lloyd were in the band as they were making demos, and then the Nice’s Davey O’List replaced Bunn before Phil Manzanera took over. Paul Thompson manned the skins when Lloyd left, and with Graham Simpson on bass and Brian Eno doing weird stuff with synthesizers the group was off and running for good. Simpson, though, left soon after the first album thanks to depression, and they went through some hired guns on bass (at least three) for the next album and change. Eno left after For Your Pleasure, and Eddie Jobson got the spot on keyboards and violin. John Gustafson was basically the defacto bass player when Jobson joined (those two lasted three studio albums and a live record), though they had some fill-ins on tour as Gustafson was making session player paper. When the band got back together in 1979 for three records, they used lots of session players to fill out a Ferry / Manzanera / Mackay trio as Thompson left due to injury and ‘differences’ around 1980 – no doubt that he couldn’t whack the drums with fervor on the more adult crooning stuff the band was doing. Thompson was back in the fold for their inevitable reunion in the 2000’s, as they used a shit-ton of hired guns.

Megadeth (Normal (as in most stable): Mustaine, Ellefson, Menza, Friedman) – When Mustaine and co. got serious, Lee Rausch was the drummer, and Kerry King was the second guitarist for one hot minute. For their first two albums, Chris Poland was the other guitarist and Gar Samuelson the drummer – the lineup many fans consider their classic lineup. But drugs suck, man, as do contractual disputes. So Chuck Behler joined as drummer and Jeff Young slung the axe. Behler was a cokehead and Mustaine didn’t get along with Young, so then Nick Menza became the drummer and Marty Friedman was the second guitarist. That lineup lasted seven years, and Friedman lasted for two more after that. Since then, though, Mustaine has basically run through musicians at his whim, even firing Ellefson (or Ellefson quitting, but really, it makes no difference since they hated each other at the time). I don’t think it matters, really, after the 90’s, and it’s basically a Mustaine show now anyway.