What’s in a name?

When it comes to rock musicians it sometimes seems that a band name takes precedence over long-time friendships. We’ve all seen plenty of the ersatz classic rock band where somebody owns the name and happens to be the only former member of the group touring under that name. As the Woodstock generation ages, the corporate mindset seems to be taking over.

Recently, there was the lawsuit former Doors drummer John Densmore brought and won when Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger toured as “The Doors of the 21st Century.” Figuring turnabout is fair play or else loving the courtroom, Manzarek and Kreiger now have renamed their band “Riders on the Storm.” That just happens to be the title of Densmore’s autobiography. Coincidence, I’m sure.

Then, this week I noticed something in a press release dealing with both Ten Years After and Grand Funk Railroad.

While the “Ten Years After” described in the release includes three of the four original members, founding lead guitarist Alvin Lee is not one of them. How, you may ask, can you have really have Ten Years After without Alvin Lee? Problem solved. You just need to watch which website you go to. The band sans Lee is at while “Ten Years After with Alvin Lee” is at I guess that’s one way to share a name without engendering lawsuits.

Such good will evidently doesn’t exist between the two original members now touring as Grand Funk Railroad and founding lead guitarist Mark Farner. As with Ten Years After, you might ask what is Grand Funk without Farner? That’s Farner’s view, too. His website contains a “disclaimer” that he “has no association whatsoever with the current version of the group ‘Grand Funk Railroad.'” Likewise, his bio on the site refers throughout to “the original Grand Funk Railroad” with the word “original” always italicized. He’s said elsewhere that Grand Funk Railroad is a corporation and, being only one of the three shareholders, he’s been outvoted and there’s been litigation amongst them.

None of this, of course, was mentioned in the press release. You had to go a bit past the PR to truly see more proof of the corporatization of rock music. Tain’t it wunnerful?

I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do.
So I’ll leave it up to you.

“I’d Love to Change the World,” Ten Years After, A Space in Time

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