On the Town microphone

Published on November 1st, 2012 | by Dr. Richard Martorano

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Legends, Tributes or the Real Thing?

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery.  If this is true then there are a hundreds of bands, singing groups and soloists who are earning great adulation and respect.

Let me give you a quick music lesson.  There are bands and singers who perform only original material, and then there are bands, singers and groups who perform what we call in the industry, “covers.” A cover band will play different music from all different styles of bands but not emulate them exactly. Then there are Tribute or Legends acts.

Peter Alden as Legend ElvisImitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

A Tribute act is a musical group, singer, or musician who specifically plays the music of a well-known performer, often one who no longer performs or tours. Probably the most recognized tribute act performers are Elvis Presley impersonators. However, most tribute acts imitate groups rather than solo performers.

A tribute band rarely includes any members of the original band whose music is being honored, although guest appearances occur.

Licensed Bands and Touring Acts

Keep in mind as you read the above, there are acts still touring that have an original member still in the group or who are authorized by the owner of the band to tour under the name of the original artists. Most big bands have licensed a member to tour using the originator’s name.four freshman NSB observer article

The Glen Miller, Artie Shaw (which I brought  to New Smyrna in 2010), Woody Herman, Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands are examples of this type of licensing.

There are also singing groups that have original members or are licensed, such as The Four Freshman, Danny and the Juniors, The Four Lads, The Four Aces, The Diamonds, The Platters, The Vogues, The Preps, The Limelighters, The Kingston Trio, The Letterman, Bill Haley’s Comets,  The Association and so on. There are hundreds of them. Get the idea?

Tribute and Legend Acts

There is hardly a living, deceased or disbanded act of any consequence that does not have a tribute band available for bookings. There is a very successful night club in Las Vegas called the “Legends” which is housed at the Imperial Hotel on Las Vegas Blvd. The club has been there for years and has other locations in the country.

At one time they had a theater in Daytona Beach. Legends or Tribute Bands are very successful, but like everything in life, some of them are very good and some of them are terrible. As a producer I have used a variety of Tribute and/or Legends acts over the past few years. I almost exclusively use the acts from “Legends” in Las Vegas to do my concert dates. You don’t find too many tribute or legend acts in the jazz style. Jazz artists will play music of a particular period but tend to improvise the music to their own playing style.

As an audience, you will have to be careful when selecting a legends or tribute artist to see.  If the producer has a reputation for bringing quality acts to a venue, there is a good chance the act will be good.  If you have any doubt, save your money.  Otherwise it could be a long night of bad entertainment.

bad entertainment


About the Author

Dr. Richard Martorano

A prominent musician, producer, composer, music director, adjunct university professor and owner of R. Martorano Productions LLC and Music, Etc. Inc. who is residing in New Smyrna Beach. He has produced and directed over 30 Broadway musicals for community or Dinner theater and worked with some of the biggest names in show business. He has also produced over 30 jingles and TV commercials. Dr. Martorano has an undergraduate and Master degrees from Florida State University and Rollins College and Doctorate in Music and Broadcast Communications from California State Western University. He is a feature contributor to the New Smyrna Beach Observer and can be reached at rjaem2222@bellsouth.net or on his web page RMartoranoproductions.com



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