How musicians “to be completed” ensure the smooth running of tours and major groups

Matt Sorum was sitting by the pool with his wife when he received a text on his phone from legendary Motörhead bassist / singer Lemmy Kilmister. Lemmy asked Sorum to replace the drums for a Motörhead concert series. In a moment of awareness, Sorum texted Lemmy back, asking him why me. “And Lemmy replied,” Because Dave Grohl is not available, “” Sorum said. TOURNAMENT on Zoom while letting out a small laugh.

Sorum is known for his colossus grooves with Use your illusion the Guns N ‘Roses era and the Velvet Revolver supergroup, led by Scott Weiland in the early 2000s. But in 2009 Sorum joined the drums for about 14 gigs with the speed-rock trio “Ace of Spades “Motörhead. The band’s regular drummer Mikkey Dee had signed up to be a part of the Swedish version of I’m a celebrity, get me out of here, and was not available.

Credit: Jo Hale / Getty Images

When an entire show or tour is compromised because a band member is out of service, “replacement” musicians are called upon to learn the set and perform the concert. Bringing in a replacement helps a band meet their contractual obligations and prevent live performance money from coming in.

Faces guitarist Ron Wood was one of the first high-profile replacements, after a tour that reached new heights in big business in the 1970s. The Rolling Stones initially brought in Wood as a temporary replacement for the 1975 Stones tour following the departure of guitarist Mick Taylor. After this tour, The Stones made Wood a permanent member. But it usually doesn’t work that way. Unlike “replacement” members, intended to be full-time additions to a group’s formation (think Sammy Hagar with Van Halen or Jason Newsted with Metallica), backups are inherently designed to be temporary. A short term fix that keeps the show going.

Guns N ‘Roses frontman Axl Rose took part in the 2016 AC / DC tour after frontman Brian Johnson was sidelined by hearing problems and temporarily retired from the road. Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello replaced Bruce Springsteen in 2014 while Steven Van Zant was filming the Van Zant TV show. Lillyhammer.

There are many other examples, past and present. With countless touring groups now made up of musicians in the 50s, 60s and 70s – not to mention the cases of COVID occurring within the groups, as well as the financial challenges associated with the 2020 tour closures – replacements will not be forthcoming. probably more critical. cheeky.

Even the world’s greatest rock and roll group is once again relying on a fill-in. The Stones brought in drummer Steve Jordan to replace the late great Charlie Watts on their 2021 tour. Initially, he was brought in before Watts died and was recovering from a recent medical intervention. Jordan rose to the challenge. His precise and propulsive drums allowed The Stones to rock stadiums better than half-sassy artists of singer Mick Jagger’s age.

Talent, chops, touring experience, and music compatibility are obviously essential for a replacement. But a personal connection with the group also helps. For example, Jordan collaborated with Stones guitarist Keith Richards on solo projects for decades, and Jordan and Watts were mutual musical admirers. Before his race at Motörhead, Sorum had been friends with Lemmy for years. Lemmy had also been a guest on stage with Sorum’s Hollywood cover band Camp Freddy.

In the mid-1990s, The Bangles guitarist Vicki Peterson played lead guitar with new wave hitmakers The Go-Go on tour while Charlotte Caffey, her friend Go-Go’s guitarist, was pregnant. “I like to say that Charlotte was pregnant with my ex-boyfriend’s baby, which is true,” Peterson said. TOURNAMENT with a good-natured laugh since all the parts had remained in good condition. Adding to the familiarity, The Bangles played with The Go-Go’s earlier in their careers.

The dates for the 1994-1995 Go-Go tour are part of Peterson’s schedule. The bracelets were finished by then and she had played with The Continental Drifters. Playing “We Got The Beat” and “This Town” with The Go-Go’s sounded like fun, and Peterson “jumped” at the chance.

Around 2013, guitarist Steve Brown, who had some success on MTV with the band “Give It To Me Good” Trixter, landed a gig with melodic hard rock titans Def Leppard, whom he had known since 1988. In backstage at a Def Leppard show, Brown and band guitarist Phil Collen bonded over the gear. “We became instant friends,” said Brown. TOURNAMENT.

Over the years, Brown and Collen have found themselves together a few times, including on stage with Trixter, backstage at shows, at Collen’s and, in the early 2010s, on a FOX News TV show hosted by the former governor. from Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. After the Huckabee segment aired, Brown said Collen called him excited about “how well our voices blend together.”

Strong harmony voices are often a desired attribute for a replacement musician. Harmony vox is a key sonic facet of the success of many bands, including The Go-Go’s and Def Leppard. In his own group, Brown had been “the Trixter version of Richie Sambora,” he says, referring to the backing skills of Bon Jovi’s guitarist.

Bangles jangle-pop hits like “Walk Like an Egyptian” make heavy use of vocal harmony, “which is one of my favorite things to do in a band,” says Peterson. She also liked to sing the harmonies with the Go-Go. She had prepared at home for the tour by singing and playing on the Go-Go albums she owned, to learn the guitar parts well. “It taught my hands to play what my brain already knew,” says Peterson. TOURNAMENT, “because I knew their first tips so well in particular.”

Vicki peterson
Vicki Peterson in concert in Munich, Germany 1986. (Photo by Fryderyk Gabowicz / picture alliance via Getty Images)

While backing vocals are also part of Sorum’s skills, they were not part of the Motörhead concert. Sorum texted Lemmy asking when they were going to rehearse before the shows. Lemmy replied, “We are not.” The management sent him a live Motörhead DVD to learn the set. Lemmy and Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell would meet Sorum at the 930 Club in Washington, where they were doing scales before playing their first gig together that night.

Sorum flew to DC and when he arrived at the scene his kit was ready. In the soundcheck, “We had starts and ends,” Sorum says, “and sort of in the middle (of the songs) we stopped because we didn’t want to be up there for two hours.” In 1991, Sorum performed his very first Guns N ‘Roses show in front of an ocean-sized crowd at the Rock In Rio festival in Brazil. Even so, before his debut at Motörhead, he was “quite nervous”.

That first gig “was really like a rehearsal for me,” says Sorum. Things really froze at a subsequent Motörhead concert at New York’s Roseland Ballroom, “a great resonating hall,” resulting in a transcendent performance, Sorum says.

Sometimes the filling preparation can take much longer. Roughly 18 months after Steve Brown and Phil Collen got together on television, Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell was sadly diagnosed with cancer. Collen called Brown and asked him to learn Campbell’s live guitar parts, many of which came from classical-era Leppard guitarist Steve Clark, and to accompany Def Leppard on their 2013 summer tour, in case Campbell can’t continue.

The band sent him a hard drive with live versions of Leppard’s set. He jotted down many notes, including chord changes, lyrics, etc. in a spiral-bound notebook. The group took him on the road in 2013 in case Campbell took a bad turn. Brown continued to wait backstage in 2014 when he was doing sound checks with Leppard, but was not yet performing live. Brown’s time finally came in September 2014. His first show with Def Leppard was at Wembley Stadium in London. Brown said he was more excited than nervous to finally play songs he had put so many hours and miles into.

Steve brown
Support guitarist Steve Brown, left, and Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen perform at a 2014 Def Leppard concert in Palm Springs, Calif. (Credit: Adam Reiver / FU-Tone)

After replacing Campbell on shows in 2014 and 2015, Brown stepped up his efforts again in 2018, this time with just one day’s notice for Collen, who was facing a family emergency. It meant learning an entirely different set of guitars and harmonies in time for Def Leppard’s concert at Hershey Park Stadium. The ‘pinch me’ moment of this show: Brown walking the podium to play Collen’s solo on Leppard’s hymn ‘Photograph’. “You finally get your due for all your work,” he says. To date, Brown has performed around fifteen shows with Def Leppard.

In addition to the thrills on stage, a supplement gets a perspective that remains with them long after the concert is over. For example, Peterson – whom Go-Go rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin affectionately referred to as “Vick-Vick Side Chick” – says, “It’s a whole different approach to work. I wasn’t worried about ticket sales or anything to do with the business. My goal was just to play the show and have a good time. “

When asked how his time at Motörhead had changed him, Sorum replied, “I stay more true to myself now. Don’t take a road or a path because the world does it. Lemmy wasn’t that guy.

Sorum says Motörhead has been very supportive during his time with the band. He fondly recalls a time when Lemmy included him in a magazine interview. The move to Motörhead provided Sorum with many memories, some of which appear in his upcoming Double Talkin ‘Jive memory. While some of the replacements have different accommodations than the group, Def Leppard has hosted Brown at the same posh hotels they’ve stayed at, like the Sunset Marquis in Hollywood. He also shared a lodge with them.

Brown and Sorum tell TOURNAMENT other major rock groups contacted them individually about a replacement job. Due to nondisclosure agreements, however, they will not name names. With Def Leppard set to co-title stages with Motley Crue in 2022, has Brown cleared his schedule just in case? He refuses to comment other than to say, “I’m always here, ready to go if the guys need me.”


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