Featured Band: The Tubes


Phoenix  legends who have just announced UK gigs

The Tubes were arch satirists of popular culture whose outrageous performance art concepts — which swung wildly from soft-core pornography to suit-and-tie conservatism — frequently eclipsed their elusive musical identity. The beginnings of the group originated in Phoenix, Arizona in the late ’60s, where guitarist Roger Steen, drummer Prairie Prince, and a bassist had a band called the Red White and Blues Band

After moving to San Francisco in 1969, in 1972 they united with another Phoenix band,the Beans, (alternately billing themselves as the Radar Men from Uranus) and eventually changed their name to The Tubes with the addition of Michael Cotten(keyboards) and former roadie Fee Waybill (lead vocals).

The Tubes attracted a cult following on the strength of their parodic songs and the group’s surreal live shows, which featured Waybill adopting a variety of stage personas including the crippled Nazi Dr Strangekiss, country singer Hugh Heifer, and Quay Lewd, a drug-addled British pop star. In the early 1970s they opened for Led Zeppelinand Iggy and the Stooges.

After signing to A&M Records in 1975, they released their critically acclaimed eponymous debut album The Tubes, followed a year later by the album Young and Rich. While both albums failed to translate the manic energy and theatrical power of their live shows onto record, the single White Punks on Dope became a minor hit and a radio staple, and went on to be covered by Motley Crue and Nina Hagen.


After 1977′s failed concept record The Tubes Now, the group toured England, where a series of banned performances made them a media sensation. However, during the recording of the concert LP What Do You Want From Live, Waybill broke his leg on-stage while acting out his punk character Johnny Bugger; the remainder of the tour was cancelled, and with it died the band’s chart momentum. After returning to America, they recruited producer Todd Rundgren and recorded 1979′s Remote Control, a concept album exploring the influence of television; when it met a similar commercial fate as its predecessors, The Tubes were dropped by A&M.

After signing to Capitol, they recorded 1981′s Completion Backwards Principle, with producer David Foster, an album based on an actual sales training instruction manual; both Talk To Ya Later and Don’t Want to Wait Anymore earned significant radio play, and the LP became band’s first Top 40 hit.

With its provocative video, the single She’s A Beauty reached the Top Ten, and pushed the 1983 album Outside/Inside, into the Top 20 Albums chart. After 1985′s Love Bomb stiffed, The Tubes split.

In 1993, The Tubes reunited; consisting of Waybill, Steen, Anderson, Prince, and new keyboardist David Medd. In 1996, they toured America and Europe before releasing a new LP, Genius of America. In 2000, The Tubes embarked on another extensive tour, issuing the live greatest hits album Tubes World Tour to commemorate the event. The band appeared at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire in December 2004, and the show was documented on the CD Wild in London, released the following year.

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