Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers: What’s in A Name?


Here’s a quick trivia question: what two musicians have been members of both Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers?

The answer is Michael McDonald and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.  Of course, Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers have much more in common than a couple of members.

Both bands enjoyed their zenith in the 1970s.  Steely Dan produced hits like “Do It Again,” “Reelin’ in the Years,” “My Old School,” “Peg,” and “Deacon Blues.”

Meanwhile, the Doobie Brothers gave us “Listen to the Music,” “Jesus Is Just Alright,” “China Grove,” “Black Water,” and “Takin’ It to the Streets.”

Steely Dan were the cynical, East Coast, anti-hippies.  While The Doobie Brothers played an accessible brand of rock that was widely embraced by salt-of-the-earth baby boomers.

The bands have another thing in common, they are currently touring together.  Their outing began May 10 and will end July 14 in Bethel, New York.

Look for the iconic bands in Denver on June 12, Kansas City on June 18, Toronto on July 2, and Mansfield on July 7.

There’s at least one more thing “Dan” and the “Doobies” have in common.  That is their current lineups are drastically different from their original lineups.

After the death of Walter Becker, the only original member of Steely Dan you’ll see this spring and summer is Donald Fagen.  I should mention that the band has been a duo since the mid-1970s.

The only original members of The Doobie Brothers are Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons.

Fagen became “one against nature” on Sept. 3, 2017 when Becker died.  Five weeks later, Fagen was performing as Steely Dan in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

Becker’s widow sued Fagen saying Becker’s estate should control half of the band’s profits.  Fagen argued that 45 years ago the band agreed that if you left (by choice or by death) you relinquished shares to the remaining members.

Furthermore, Fagen wanted to drop the designation “Steely Dan” and perform under a different name, probably using the original nomenclature in some way.  He decided not to make alternations to the appellation after convincing from concert promoters.

The current Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers tour raises that age-old question of what’s in a name.  Can Fagen still use “Steely Dan?”  Can Johnston and Simmons still call themselves “The Doobie Brothers?”

Many think Journey without Steve Perry is not Journey.  Yet, Steve Perry was neither Journey’s first or second lead singer.

What about Van Halen?  Was Van Halen still “Van Halen” without David Lee Roth?  Was Guns N’ Roses “Guns N’ Roses” without Slash?

Bands that experience lineup changes are far more common than bands that remain intact.  For every U2 there are a dozen Deep Purples.

Isn’t there a threshold when a certain band stops being one thing and starts becoming something else?

Take the Rolling Stones for example.  In 1969, they lost Brian Jones, who was their leader during their formative years.  Yet, the Stones went on to make the strongest music of their canon.

The Rolling Stones would have been drastically different had Mick Jagger or Keith Richards left.

This argument is usually waged by adamant rock snobs who are super protective of a certain name.  Much like sports fans who don’t want to see their favorite athlete struggle at the end of his or her career.  Passionate fans don’t want to see the memory of their favorite band tarnished by an inferior incarnation.

These rock snobs have, to some extent, a valid point.  Attempts to cash in on the legacy of a rock band generally end in failure, or worse, a live album.

By his own admission, Fagen is using the Steely Dan name at the behest of promoters.  In other words, to make money.  The exact thing that rock snobs, as well as most casual fans, detest.

Looking past commercial aspirations, fans should embrace Fagen’s, Johnston’s and Simmons’ desire to perform and play their great music.

If they, and the other musicians they tap, can do that, then what’s the harm?  If you look at it that way, you can say that the current Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers tour is as close to the original as we can get in 2018 and much better than any tribute band.

What’s wrong with that?  I’ll definitely see a show like that.

Certainly, we’ll all agree that if any musician loses their ability, and their passion, to rock then they should immediately hang it up, regardless of the name they perform under.

Until that happens, Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers should keep playing their music as loud as they can.

U2 to Showcase their Experience on 2018 Experience + Innocence Tour

U2 announced that their 2018 Experience + Innocence Tour will commence this May in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It’s set to end in June in Newark, New Jersey.

When it’s all said and done, U2 concert tickets will have been collected in 15 North American cities including Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Boston.

This will be U2’s second tour in as many years.  In 2017, they hit the road to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their seminal release, Joshua Tree.  The band played more than 50 dates in three continents while celebrating their legendary album.

This is U2’s second trek using the “Experience + Innocence” moniker.  Their previous trip under that name took place in 2015.

That excursion supported the album Songs of Innocence.  Their upcoming jaunt will support Songs of Experience.  The new opus is set to drop on Dec. 1.

U2 lost their innocence long ago, but have experience to spare.  All four band members are closer to 60 then they are to 50.

The teenage son of Bono, Eli Hewson, and the twenty-year-old daughter of The Edge, Sian Evans, adorn the cover of the band’s forthcoming LP.

Adult children are only the beginning of the band’s “experience.”

U2 is 41 years old.  They formed in 1976.

This past spring, the foursome celebrated the 40th anniversary of their first gig.  This winter, they can wish their first tour happy 37th birthday.  “U2-3” launched in 1979 and ended in 1980.

Their first single, “Another Day,” and their first album, Boy, both dropped in 1980.  In other words, both are 37.

The band’s third album, War, which knocked Michael Jackson off the top of the charts in the United Kingdom, is 34-years old.

U2’s performance at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium is more than two-and-thirty years.  That performance showed the world the greatness of a U2 concert.

We’ve already mentioned that three decades have passed since the release of Joshua Tree.  Not only was that the band’s creative pinnacle, it was also their bestselling album.  It has moved more than 25 million units.

In 2018, the band’s popular rockumentary, Rattle and Hum, will celebrate its pearl anniversary.  That means Bono has been asking fans if he’s “bugging” them for 30 years.  Both the album and movie were released in October of 1988.

Also turning the big 3-0 in 2018, are the first two of U2’s 22 Grammy Awards.  That year, they won the trophies for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Album of the Year.

In 1997, U2 released what many view as their weakest offering, Pop.  The oeuvre’s age is now north of three decades.

To put the band’s immense experience in perspective, their tenth studio album, All That You Can’t Leave behind—the one with “Beautiful Day” and “Elevation”—will be old enough to vote in 2018.

That is if the album was American and an actual person.  All That You Can’t Leave Behind came out in 2000!

In 2018, the band celebrates the ninth anniversary of the highest grossing tour of all-time, “U2 360° Tour.”  That 110-concert odyssey grossed nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars.

U2’s 2018 Experience + Innocence Tour

Andrea Bocelli’s Music Attracts Chicks Says Science

Andrea Bocelli and his wife

You’ll probably agree with me that Andrea Bocelli is one of the world’s most successful musicians.  In case you don’t, let’s quickly rundown his accomplishments.

Andrea Bocelli concerts sellout all over the world.

The singer has sold more than 80 million albums during his illustrious career.

His 1999 release, Sacred Arias, is the bestselling classical crossover album of all-time.

His duet with Sarah Brightman, “Time to Say Goodbye,” is one of the bestselling singles of all-time.

He has performed for Pope Benedict XVI, Italian president Silvio Berlusconi, the British Royal Family, and U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

He has performed with dozens of big name artists including Céline Dion, Josh Groban, Mary J. Blige, Katharine McPhee, Valery Gergiev, Renée Fleming, Gianna Nannini, and Sesame Street’s Elmo.

While it’s easy to sing the praises of the Italian singer, it’s unlikely that many will place him in the same category of popular music icons like Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, and Harry Styles.

After all, Bocelli sings music of the classical and operatic persuasion.  Those kinds of tunes are supposedly stuffy and banal.  Sure, he’s extremely successful, but he doesn’t have “rock star” status, or even pop star credentials.

If that’s your opinion, you might want to reevaluate.  That’s because a recent Daily Mail article shows Bocelli living the rock star lifestyle.

The article I’m referring to is: “Andrea Bocelli, 58, enjoys romantic beach day with bikini-clad wife Veronica Berti, 33, during Italian vacation on the Mediterranean.”

The story contains about a dozen images of Bocelli, and his smoking hot wife, having fun on Italian sands.  Thankfully, Berti was the only one scantily clad—Bocelli had a shirt on.

If frolicking on the beach with someone half your age, and who’s nearly naked, is not part of the “rock star” lifestyle then I don’t know what is.

“Getting chicks” has always been the main motivation for young boys to pick up guitars and teach themselves to windmill power chords.  After seeing that article, maybe some will learn to sing Puccini.

Sure, being accepted into the realm of Rock Valhalla was also on the minds of these burgeoning musicians, but their immediate goal was making themselves attractive.  Teens hold shiny new guitars and glide their hands over its curves because they hope that if they master the instrument they’ll be able to glide their hands over another kind of curves.

Looking at Bocelli and his betrothed, the genre of music doesn’t matter—although it probably does matter if you’re playing polka or sing in a barbershop quartet.  Andrea Bocelli proves that if you can make beautiful music, you can land a beautiful cohort.

Up until now, my tongue has been firmly planted in my cheek.  While no one is going to object to the attention of an attractive suitor, Bocelli, and countless other musicians, are serious artists committed to their craft.

Bringing attention to the article was meant to highlight the age-old notion that musicians land chicks.  Thanks to some very smart Canadians, there might be something to this notion.

There is new scientific evidence that shows a connection between music and sex—beside the one fostered by seven decades of rock and roll.

A recent study conducted by neuroscientists at McGill University in Canada found that music and sex stimulate the same chemical system in the brain.

To discover all this, researchers blocked, in seventeen test subjects, the natural opioid substances the brain produces when “having a good time.”  Then, they had their guinea pigs listen to music.

The test subjects knew they should like the music, some even said it was beautiful, but none were moved by it.  In other words, the music didn’t stir their emotions.

McGill University’s test was a bit of history.  It was the first time the brain’s opioids had been shown to be directly involved in the enjoyment of listening to music.

Since these opioids are also produced by food and drugs, researchers hope to use their findings to help treat addiction.

The implication of all this, besides showing that young boys forming rock bands are amateur neuroscientists, is how big of a role evolution has played in our enjoyment of music.  The ability for music to affect our emotional state didn’t happen overnight.  It took a long time.

So, “chicks,” and more specifically Andrea Bocelli’s wife, are drawn to singers, guitarists, and the like because music makes them feel good and they associate those positive feelings with the individual musician.

If you want to woo a potential paramour, or force your brain to release opioids, all you have to do is become a world-famous musician or attend an upcoming Andrea Bocelli concert.

The Italian tenor has several dates on the books for the waning months of 2017 in Europe and North America.

In October, Bocelli has two shows planned in Verona and one in Amsterdam.  The following month, look for Bocelli in Kaunas at the Zalgiris Arena on Nov. 4; in Riga at the Riga Arena on Nov. 7; and in Krakow at the Tauron Arena on Nov. 11

In the second half of the month, Bratislava hosts Bocelli on Nov. 19 and Budapest rolls out the welcome mat at the Papp Laszlo Sport Arena on Nov. 25.

Bocelli has eight dates planned for December in the United States.  On Dec. 1, Bocelli will perform at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.  On Dec. 3, the crooner is set to perform at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit.

Staying in the Midwest, and getting away from awfully-named arenas, Bocelli has a concert plotted for Chicago and the United Center on Dec. 6.  Two days later, he’ll wow fans at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.  The Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. greets Bocelli on Dec. 17.

New York City is the site for Bocelli’s final two performances of 2017.  Both are organized for Madison Garden and they’ll happen on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14.

The classical crossover artist already has ten dates planned for 2018 including shows in Zagreb, Munich, and Prague.