The Tubes

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The Tubes
Tubes 29111977 33 300x200.jpg
The Tubes in Oslo, Norway, in 1977
Background information
OriginPhoenix, Arizona, United States
GenresRock, punk, hard rock, new wave
Years active1972–present
LabelsA&M, Capitol
WebsiteOfficial website
MembersRoger Steen
Prairie Prince
Rick Anderson
Fee Waybill
David Medd
Past membersVince Welnick
Bill Spooner
Michael Cotten
Bob Mcintosh
Re Styles
Mingo Lewis
Jane Dornacker
David Killingsworth
Gary Cambra
 
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This article is about the American rock band. For the band's first album, see The Tubes (album).
The Tubes
Tubes 29111977 33 300x200.jpg
The Tubes in Oslo, Norway, in 1977
Background information
OriginPhoenix, Arizona, United States
GenresRock, punk, hard rock, new wave
Years active1972–present
LabelsA&M, Capitol
WebsiteOfficial website
MembersRoger Steen
Prairie Prince
Rick Anderson
Fee Waybill
David Medd
Past membersVince Welnick
Bill Spooner
Michael Cotten
Bob Mcintosh
Re Styles
Mingo Lewis
Jane Dornacker
David Killingsworth
Gary Cambra

The Tubes are a San Francisco-based rock band whose 1975 debut album included the hit single "White Punks on Dope". During its first fifteen years or so, the band's live performances combined quasi-pornography with wild satires of media, consumerism, and politics.[citation needed] They are perhaps best remembered for their 1983 single "She's a Beauty", a top 10 U.S. hit with a frequently-played music video in the early days of MTV; and in the 1980 film Xanadu singing the rock portion of the cross-genre song "Dancin'" opposite a big band.

Career[edit]

The Tubes started as a group of high school friends from Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Two Phoenix bands, the Beans and The Red, White and Blues Band, both relocated to San Francisco in 1969 and eventually merged. The new band's core membership remained largely intact for more than a decade: Fee Waybill (real name John Waldo Waybill) (vocals), Bill "Sputnik" Spooner (guitar, vocals), Roger Steen (guitar), Prairie Prince (real name Charles L. Prince) (drums), Michael Cotten (synthesizer), Vince Welnick (piano), and Rick Anderson (bass). Singer Re Styles (born Shirley Marie MacLeod) (vocals) and ex-Santana percussionist Mingo Lewis were also fixtures for much of the band's early history.[1]

Show business excess was a common theme of the band's early work, with Waybill sometimes assuming the onstage persona of "Quay Lewd" (a pun on Quaalude), a drunk, drugged out, barely coherent lead singer, wearing flashing glasses and stilt-like tall platform shoes.

The First Album[edit]

The Tubes' first self-titled album, The Tubes (1975), was produced by Al Kooper. The track "White Punks on Dope" was an "absurd anthem of wretched excess" and a tribute to their rich, white teenage fan base in San Francisco.[citation needed] Since then the song has been covered by Mötley Crüe, and the German rock musician Nina Hagen took the tune and set new lyrics to it (not a translation of the original lyrics), titled her work TV-Glotzer ("Couch Potato"), and used this song as the opening track of her own debut album Nina Hagen Band, released 1978 on CBS/Germany Records. The album track "What Do You Want from Life?", which became another of the Tubes' signature songs, satirizes consumerism and celebrity culture and climaxes in a "hard-sell" monologue by Waybill, which name-checks celebrities such as Bob Dylan, Paul Williams and Randolph Mantooth, as well as well-known products of the period, including the Dynagym exercise machine and a host of American vehicles such as the Winnebago and the Mercury Montclair.

The Second Album[edit]

The Tubes' second album, Young and Rich (1976) on A&M Records, was produced by Ken Scott. It featured "Don't Touch Me There", a suggestive duet between Waybill and Re Styles, which was arranged in classic "Wall of Sound" style by Jack Nitzsche. The song was co-written by Ron Nagle and Tubes dancer/vocalist Jane Dornacker, who died in a helicopter crash in 1986.

The Third Album, A Live Album and then The Fourth Album[edit]

The Tubes' third album gave way to thematic experimentation with Now (1977) and after their live record What Do You Want from Live (1978), recorded during their record breaking run at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, England, the fourth album for A&M, Remote Control (1979) was a concept album produced by Todd Rundgren about a television-addicted idiot-savant. The cover of Remote Control (1979) shows a baby watching American panel game show Hollywood Squares in a specially made "Vidi-Trainer".

The Music Videos[edit]

One critic opined that with their media savvy and theatrical skills, The Tubes were born to create rock video, but arrived several years too early.[2] However, the band did produce at least one collection of music videos, which were issued on the 1982 Pioneer Artists laserdisc "The Tubes Video" (this videodisc contained versions of twelve of the band's hits, including "White Punks on Dope", "Mondo Bondage", "Talk to Ya Later", and several others from yet-to-be-completed "The Completion Backwards Principle" album, in slickly produced music videos based on the group's stage shows).

The Live Shows[edit]

The Tubes put their creativity and art skills mainly into their live performances, in which songs could be full fledged production numbers, from a beach movie parody for "Sushi Girl", to leather clad S&M hijinks in "Mondo Bondage", to the game show antics of "What Do You Want from Life?" At their peak, their live act featured dozens of other performers, including tap dancers and acrobats. The Tubes' stage productions were choreographed by Kenny Ortega and featured cast members Jane Dornacker, LeRoy Jones, Michael Holman, Michael Springer, Cindi Osborn, Heline Gouax, and Mary Niland from 1975-1977. From 1978-1979, the cast included Sharon Collins, Caty Bevan, and Loryanna Catalano. The Completion Backward tour featured Shelly Pang, Cheryl Hangland, and Cynthia Rhodes. From 1983-1985, Michelle Gray (who later married Todd Rundgren) and Cheryl Hangland were principal dancers. Several crew members — including Tour Manager Steve "Chopper" Borges, Lee Collins, and Gail Lowe — made frequent appearances on stage in various roles as well.[citation needed]

The Tubes' live shows in the late 1970s and early 1980s were rife with allusions to mainstream film [Dr. Strangelove (1964), Rollerball (1975), Saturday Night Fever (1977), Grease (1978)] then-forgotten B-movies [Wild Women of Wongo (1958), Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)], music (Tom Jones, punk rock, a medley of Nelson Riddle television themes), contemporary pop culture (Patty Hearst, the Viking program), television (Let's Make a Deal, Fernwood 2Nite, the anime Raideen), and literature (Nelson Algren's A Walk on the Wild Side), presaging the subcultural reverence and over-the-top theatricality of later groups like The World/Inferno Friendship Society.[citation needed]

These shows were expensive to produce, however, and while they earned the band a reputation for being one of the most entertaining live acts of the time, by the early 1980s, they found themselves short of money.

Their Ouster from A&M, and Their Tenure with Capitol[edit]

Their proposed fifth album, the self produced Suffer for Sound, was rejected by A&M, who dumped the band instead, finishing out its contract with the oddities collection T.R.A.S.H. (Tubes Rarities and Smash Hits) (1981).[3] The band was signed to Capitol Records by Bruce Garfield and Bobby Colomby, scaling back the live shows and redesigning itself as a straight laced rock band, teaming with producer David Foster.

The Fifth and Sixth Albums[edit]

Their fifth album, The Completion Backward Principle (1981), another concept album, featuring the classic rock staple "Talk to Ya Later", presented itself as a motivational business document, complete with shocking pictures of the band members cleaned up and wearing suits.[citation needed] The band also had their first Top 40 hit in the United States in 1981, "Don't Want to Wait Anymore" (recorded almost entirely by Spooner, without Waybill's participation). The sixth studio album, Outside Inside (1983), followed a few years later and yielded a few hits, including the number 10 (USA) hit "She's a Beauty".

The Seventh Album, and Their Ouster from Capitol[edit]

In 1985, the band teamed up with Todd Rundgren once again for their seventh album, Love Bomb. With Bruce Garfield and Bobby Colomby no longer with Capitol, The Tubes were dropped just as they were going on a national tour in support of the album — a tour that would leave the band a half million dollars in debt, forcing them to play low-budget gigs for a year to pay off their debts.[4]

Waybill Leaves[edit]

Fee Waybill had already released an unsuccessful solo album (Read My Lips, on Capitol Records) in 1984, but during this time, he had also happily enjoyed a fruitful writing partnership with fellow Capitol Records label mate Richard Marx, their most popular and well known collaboration being "Edge of a Broken Heart", recorded by the female band Vixen. Waybill left the band in 1986 ("Fee broke up," one band member said),[citation needed] leaving the band without both its musical director and lead singer.[citation needed]

Personnel Changes[edit]

Later in the year the remaining members of the band took on a longtime friend from Phoenix, Arizona, David Killingsworth, as lead vocalist. Killingsworth was the singer in the Red and White Blues Band with Prairie and Roger. Michael Cotten relocated to New York to pursue a career based on his artwork, stage design and production, and is considered one of the country's top production designers. In the fall of 1988, Bill Spooner traveled his final tour with the band and left in early 1989. Vince Welnick departed as well to take to the road with Todd Rundgren in 1989 and then joined the Grateful Dead in 1990. Gary Cambra joined on keyboards and guitar in 1989. He and Roger Steen took over most the lead vocal duties after Killingsworth left in early 1990.

Waybill Returns[edit]

In 1993, Fee Waybill rejoined the band. This lineup toured Europe and released two CDs, a compilation and the 1996 album Genius of America. David Medd joined in 1996 to play keyboards alongside Cambra. In 2001, the band released a live CD, The Tubes World Tour 2001, and continued to tour.

The One-Off Reunion[edit]

On April 22, 2005, a reunion show took place at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz, CA, with Waybill, Steen, Anderson, Spooner, Welnick and Cotten. 2005 also saw the release of their live album Wild in London.

The Tubes Project, and Other Milestones[edit]

Michael Cotten started "The Tubes Project" in 2005, to save and digitize the band's reel to reel and video tape archive. The collection had been kept in the closet of Tubes fan club president Marylin Wood's son after being discarded in the late 1980s. Included in the vault are full color shows taped for TV at Bimbos in San Francisco, 1975 and VARA TV from the 1977 European tour. Over 70 interviews were conducted with band members, crew, managers, cast and friends such as Re Styles, Todd Rundgren, Al Kooper, Devo and David Foster. Hundreds of photos were scanned and compiled from band members and fan collections for use in the hour and half documentary, which was edited and shopped for further financial backing, gaining interest until the economic crash of 2008. No further plans have been discussed since about any planned release of any of this material.

After leaving the band, Jane Dornacker worked as a traffic reporter. She was killed in a helicopter crash in 1986, while giving a live report.

Pianist Vince Welnick, who long suffered from depression, committed suicide on June 2, 2006.

Gary Cambra left the band in 2006 leaving David Medd as their sole keyboardist.

On September 23, 2007, the remaining members of the Tubes reunited in Phoenix for their induction into the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame.

On November 10, 2009, "Mondo Birthmark" a CD of previously unreleased rarities was released through the label Fuel 2000. The package was designed by Michael Cotten and Prairie Prince with rare photos and interviews of the group. The demos also feature former member Bob Macintosh on drums.

Career Highlights[edit]

1972: Tubes appear in Mitchell brothers film Resurrection of Eve as Jesus Bongo and the Millionaires.

1973: Opened for the New York Dolls at the Matrix, Iggy Pop at Bimbos, and Led Zeppelin at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

1974: Tubes shoot "video demo" at California Hall, which lands a record deal at A&M Records, Cotten/Prince paint "Flying Record" mural on A&M sound stage.

1975: Tubes play for two weeks of shows at David Allen's nightclub The Boarding House in San Francisco, several sell-out dates at The Roxy in Los Angeles and The Bottom Line in New York. Dec, 31- Headline and sell out Bill Graham's Winterland Ballroom.[5]

1976: Held residency at Bimbos in San Francisco for one month, Prairie Prince dubbed "The One, The Only" by columnist Herb Caen. Tubes hold "Talent Hunt" at the Boarding House hosted by Martin Mull; Robin Williams is contestant but loses.

1977: Held residency at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco for one month, the Whisky a Go Go nightclub in Los Angeles for two shows a night for one month, and Hammersmith Odeon in London for a week.

1978: Headlined the Knebworth Festival with Frank Zappa and Peter Gabriel. On April 3, The Tubes performed live with Dolly Parton on Cher... Special, in the "Musical Battle to Save Cher's Soul Medley". As the title would imply, the performance was a duel between the forces of good and evil to determine where Cher would spend her eternal destiny. Dolly Parton was dressed in white and, with a team of brightly clad singers, portrayed an angelic host while The Tubes, dressed in black leather and performing "Mondo Bondage", battled to send Cher's soul into eternal damnation. The band also performed the song "La Vida Fuma", about a guy in a trenchcoat winning over a girl at a bar with his cigarette smoking technique, which employed giant, twelve-foot inflatable cigarettes. At the end of the number the dancers would bash singer Waybill with the giant cigarettes until he was crushed into the ground.[6]

1979: Tubes play Japan; Cotten/Welnick/Prince/Styles appear on Japanese soap opera. Tubes appear in Andy Warhol's Interview magazine.

1980: Made an appearance in the film Xanadu singing the rock portion of the cross-genre song "Dancin'" opposite a big band.

1981: Record Grammy nominated "The Tubes Video" at Shepperton Studios, one of the first long form video discs.

1981: Sang "Sushi Girl" and "Talk to Ya Later" on the television sketch comedy program SCTV, Episode #86 airing July 24.

1981: Appeared and sang, "Sushi Girl", on late night talk show,"Tomorrow", with Tom Snyder.

1981: Compose the song "Road Map of My Tears" for the film Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, in which Waybill and Welnick appear, among other musicians, as the fictional rock group The Metal Corpses.

1982: Appeared in a commercial for Activision's video game Megamania.

1983: Opened several dates for David Bowie on the Serious Moonlight tour and on this tour, among other highlights, they were the first artists to ever play the newly opened Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. At the end of the Bowie tour, they played a few shows featuring their classic no-holds-barred theatrics in Portland, Oregon, and other west-coast cities.

1985: Tour with Todd Rundgren's Utopia, play Radio City Music Hall.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsSalesCertifications
(sales thresholds)
USUK
1975The Tubes
  • Released:
  • Label: A&M
  • Format:
113
1976Young and Rich
  • Released:
  • Label: A&M
  • Format:
46
1977Now
  • Released: May 1977
  • Label: A&M
  • Format:
122
1978What Do You Want from Live
  • Released:
  • Label:A&M
  • Format:
8238
1979Remote Control
  • Released:
  • Label: A&M
  • Format:
4640
1981T.R.A.S.H. (Tubes Rarities and Smash Hits)
  • Released:
  • Label: A&M
  • Format:
148
The Completion Backward Principle36CAN: Gold[7]
1983Outside Inside
  • Released:
  • Label: Capitol
  • Format:
1877
1985Love Bomb
  • Released:
  • Label: Capitol
  • Format:
87
1992The Best of the Tubes
  • Released: November 17, 1992
  • Label: Capitol
  • Format: 1 Audio CD
1996Genius of America
  • Released: October 15, 1996
  • Label: Critique
  • Format:
2000Millennium Collection: The Tubes
  • Released: October 17, 2000
  • Label: [A&M]
  • Format: 1 Audio CD
2001The Tubes World Tour 2001 (live)
  • Released: October 10, 2000
  • Label: CMC
  • Format: 1 Audio CD; 1 Cassette
2002Hoods from Outer Space
  • Released: May 22, 2002
  • Label: Brilliant
  • Format: 1 Audio CD
2003White Punks on Dope
  • Released: November 24, 2003
  • Label: Acadia Records (UK)
  • Budget re-release of The Tubes and Young and Rich
  • Format: 1 Audio CD
2005Wild in London
  • Released: October 2, 2006
  • Label: Snapper
  • Format:
2006Alive in America
  • Released: '76 live broadcast from LA Shrine
  • Label: (unsanctioned) Renaissance
  • Format: Audio CD
2008Goin' Down the Tubes
  • Released: June 10, 2008
  • Label: (UK import) Cherry Red
  • Format: 2 Audio CDs
2009Mondo Birthmark
  • Released: November 10, 2009
  • Label: Fuel
  • Format: Audio CD
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

[8]

Singles[edit]

YearSongPeak chart positionsAlbum
USUS
Main.
Rock
UK
[8]
1976"Don't Touch Me There"61Young and Rich
1977"White Punks on Dope"28The Tubes
1979"Prime Time"34Remote Control
1981"Don't Want to Wait Anymore"352260The Completion Backward Principle
"Talk to Ya Later"1017
"Gonna Get It Next Time"Sports Fans
1983"She's a Beauty"10179Outside Inside
"Tip of My Tongue"52
"The Monkey Time"6816
1985"Piece by Piece"8725Love Bomb
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Video albums[edit]

YearVideo details
1981The Tubes Video
1982The Tubes: Live at the Greek

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jancik and Lathrop
  2. ^ Jakubowski and Tobler
  3. ^ Kimberlye Gold interview with Fee Waybill, "He'll Talk to Ya Now!", accessed 15 March 2007
  4. ^ Kimberlye Gold interview
  5. ^ Concerts.wolfgangsvault.com
  6. ^ DeFen. "Fee Waybill". punkglobe.com. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Gold and Platinum". Cria.ca. Retrieved 2012-03-27. 
  8. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 568. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]