Second Banana All Stars

We interrupt this blog for a bilious, snarky rant…

I see Ray Manzarek, the former Doors’ keyboardist, is back at it again. Yesterday, as I walked through the metro, I was confronted with this:

OK, first: can we please all agree to let 30s socialist propaganda poster style die a richly-deserved death and rest in peace? Shepherd Fairey had a nice run with the Obama Hope poster (so potent was it, in fact, that the incresingly right-tilting AP threatened to sue him for copyright infringement in the most ridiculous lawsuit ever, apparently fearing a spate of galvanized left wing politicians), but that poster was about five times better than anything else he’s ever done, and the whole style was already tired out when he did it. It’s a great aesthetic to start from so as long as you add something new to the mix, but in and of itself, the life has simply been beaten out of it in recent years. Another recent culprit– this Bernal Heights poster that JohnnyO posted:

It’s not cool anymore, people. We killed it. Let’s just let it go…

Second: why must God take from us Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone, but leave Ray Manzarek to wander the earth and haunt us with his self-aggrandizing nostalgia? I notice that in recent interview clips with the guy, he’s managed to tone down his act and come across as a benevolent elder statesman of counterculture… but he doesn’t fool me. Back when the Oliver Stone movie was coming out, he was constantly giving interviews that fulfilled every possible stereotype of self-congratulatory Baby Boomer exceptionalism. (Even in his more toned-down current incarnation, note how he still slathers all this over-the-top religious hyperbole on his description of meeting Jim Morrison for first time).

The only time I’ve ever liked Manzarek was in the Doors movie, when he wasn’t really Ray Manzarek but rather Kyle Maclachlan (aka Agent Cooper, aka most un-rock-n-roll male lead of our generation) playing Ray Manzarek in one of the strangest and most compelling casting decisions in recent memory:

I once had the idea of assembling a supergroup of all the annoying self-promoting second-and-third bananas in rock music culture who were riding on the coattails of someone more talented at the time but now take an inordinate amount of credit for things and basically try to pass themselves off as self-appointed spokesmen for their generation. The lineup could include:

Keyboards- Ray Manzarek

Drums- Dennis Love, Beach Boys (widely reviled, was conniving and underhanded in his dealings with Brian Wilson… plus made a pass at my friend’s sister once and then said, ‘You know who I am, don’t you?’ when rebuffed).

Vocals: Grace Slick? I don’t know enough about all the sordid intricacies of Jefferson Airplane to say for sure, but she seems like a good candidate.

Bass and guitar I’m still working on. Bass is a tough one, because bass players tend to be unassuming types. Noel Redding would have been absolutely perfect, but he’s by all accounts a super nice, humble guy, so that doesn’t work. Sting is a rare example of the outspoken jackass bass player, but he’s too much of the primary banana in his projects. Somewhere in between those two…

4 thoughts on “Second Banana All Stars”

  1. Totally true! RM just keeps talking. I once heard an interview in which he said that the Doors were formed one day when he and his girfriend were sitting around. JM came in and they talked about forming a group. JM said they should call themselves the Doors. RM said, and this is pretty much a direct quote, “And I said, you mean as in William Blake’s Doors of Perception? Works for me.” First, that contradicts the Venice Beach story which even Morrison corroborated. Second, no one said “Works for me” in the 60s.

    In my youth I used to think that RM was one of the coolest people on the planet with the hair and glasses and sideburns. When I see videos of the Doors now I just scream “You nerd!!” Densmore, on the other hand, was and continues to be cool.

    As far as your second banana lineup, that is a tough challenge, especially because your picks are so good. As far as a bass player I suppose that Gene Simmons of Kiss could fill the bill. And Tommy Lee could probably sit in on drums if Dennis Love is unavailable. Grace Slick on vocals–can’t top that. Don’t know about lead guitar. Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon has looked pretty lame lately in his Time Life infomercials, but I hate to call him a second banana. This definitely deserves more thought!

  2. Drums is indeed a deep and talent-filled position for the Second Banana All Stars. Ex Sly and the Family Stone drummer Greg Errico would also work, as he’s well known for haunting the music scene in San Francisco and basically making a big deal of himself and blabbering about how superior the late 60s were, etc.

    It just occurred to me that had Sid Vicious lived, he might have eventually become the ideal SBAS bassist. Given that he had no talent to speak of, he might have eventually become an annoying talking head and succeeded in siphoning attention away from John Lydon and Malcolm McLaren. But instead he died young and thereby cemented his status as an eternally cool icon.

  3. I left Sid Vicious out not because he’s dead but because he couldn’t play bass and I thought that should be a criteria. But I agree he belongs in SBAS. What’s your take on Johnny Lydon. He doesn’t seem to be aging well and in the interviews I’ve seen lately he has this Manzarekean tendency to talk as if his experience in the SP gave him the authority to speak on any topic as if he knew anything about it.

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