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Beware Of Fake Oldies Groups

There are a lot of us out here: ones who remember all the oldies and love nothing more than going to a show where our favorite oldies groups are playing. Now we’ll get to hear all those songs that have marked so many nights, so many moments, and so many phases of our lives. It’s the music we grew up with, and through kids, marriages, work and play, it has always been there, an anthem in the background of our lives.

But when we plunk down our cash for a ticket, we’ve got to beware. We’re entering a world where the brand names don’t always come with the actual brand. Doo Wop, and other oldies groups often aren’t the groups we were counting on hearing. They have the name, and they might wear the uniform, but many who present themselves as originals are actually “fake.”

Behind the name, up there in the stage, in the jackets and ties, are a bunch of singers who didn’t sing a note on those original 45s, and have no connection with those who did. Somehow they’ve managed to get the name of the classic group, but they may have taken the original group’s name by deception or outright theft. Often they are simply imposters. Handing over our hard-earned dollars to these guys does a great disservice to the original artists. It helps the fakes keep up their deception, and in many cases it deprives the original artists of money and reputation. Once people have accepted the imitators, it makes it much harder for original members to prove a claim.

You might find this problem when going to see groups called the Coasters, Drifters and the Platters. You pay for the tickets, arrive at the concert, and don’t recognize a single face up there on the stage. When they open their mouths to sing, you’re sure of it. Notes turn sour, and the voices singing them are obviously not the same. A real lover of oldies has to watch for this. While inevitably there will be changes in personnel, a group should be able to hold onto its identity. The real music lover should make sure the group has a pedigree going back to the original hits, and not simply some singers who took a name in order to cash in. Keep in mind: Carl Gardner is the Coasters one and only lead singer. Herb Reed and the Platters is the only group by that name in which there is an original member. Bill Pinkney is the only original Drifter still performing.

In New York assemblyman Peter Rivera has introduced a bill that would allow original music groups to seek civil penalties from fake groups who use their names. In Pennsylvania state senator Bob Robbins introduced the Truth in Music Advertising Act and on February 22, 2006, Governor Ed Rendell signed it into law. The law prohibits anyone from either advertising or conducting "a live musical performance in Pennsylvania through the use of false, deceptive or misleading affiliation, connection or association between a performing group and a recording group." If such fraud is discovered Attorney General Tom Corbett is empowered to stop the performances. Conviction can bring fines of up to $15,000.

So be an informed consumer. Before you pay good money to go to an oldies show, find out who these “oldies” are. Make sure there’s an original member or two, or that this band is descended from the original through the consent and authorization of the band members who made the hits. Once you know the make-up and the history of the group that’s going to perform, you can make an informed choice about whether you want to go to the show. It could be that you want to hear reproductions of the songs that you love, and will not be bothered by the fact that the performance is not by the original group. But you don’t want to do it at the expense of the original members, and you certainly want to know who these singers are before you sit down to enjoy the show.

Submitted by:

Mary Ann Apostol

Remember the oldies but goodies way back when? Rediscover the sounds of yesterday! Find out what your favorite golden era performers of the 50's, 60's and 70's are doing today! Mary Ann Apostol brings you her FREE I love the Oldies Newsletter. Go to http://www.ilovetheoldies.com to sign up.




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