Send in the Clones!

Can you match the moustache with the band?

Let’s go back to the mid/late 1970s: Rock and roll bands are big business. Arenas are filled with “youts” seeing their favorite bands for $7.50 a pop. An umbrella of marijuana haze hangs over the room.  Firecrackers are thrown, kids are puking up the Southern Comfort they smuggled in. Life is good.

The golden age of arena rock!

But who is playing on the big stage? Bands of that era are full of guys with long dark hair and moustaches. While parents are complaining that all these bands sound alike (wrong), they always fail to bring up the argument (and win!) that they all DO look alike. Would an audience notice if Boston’s Barry Goudreau subed on stage for BOC’s Buck Dharma? (Or vice versa?) What if Jefferson Starship’s Mickey Thomas crooned “Africa” fronting Toto while Bobby Kimball was in Betty Ford? Would the arena erupt in violence? Doubtful. Highly doubtful.

So here you go – four dudes, four bands. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to match the moustache with the band. Good luck.

Band: Blue Öyster Cult
Signature Hit: (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
Member: Buck Dharma
Fun Fact: Buck’s real name is Donald Bruce Roeser
What He Doesn’t Want You To Know: Dharma tops out at a petite 5’ 2”

The jolly boys of Blue Öyster Cult, back in the glory days.

Long considered “the thinking man’s rock band,” Blue Öyster Cult (or simply BOC) had a long and storied past before their debut album dropped in 1972. After which, the band slugged it out on the early/mid 1970s hard rock circuit until, like many others (KISS, Cheap Trick, Bob Seger, Frampton, Rush, REO Speedwagon, et al.) a live album (1975’s On Your Feet or On Your Knees) brought them to mainstream prominence.

Of course, when it came time for the studio follow-up, a classic was required, just as BOC’s contemporaries were doing: KISS had Destroyer, Seger had Night Moves and Rush released A Farewell To Kings. BOC came through with its most-beloved LP, Agents Of Fortune. The album contained the Dharma-penned and sung “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. It became BOC’s highest-charting hit (#12) and a rock radio staple that is still played like it’s 1976 all over again. And finally, it gave Saturday Night Live its last relevant cultural moment with the “More Cowbell” skit.  

Downside: Dharma and fellow BOC co-founder Eric Bloom still tour with a version of the band today.

Band: Jefferson Starship
Signature Hit: Jane
Member: Mickey Thomas
Fun Fact: Thomas was lead vocalist on Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”
What He Doesn’t Want You To Know: He got his ass kicked by his Starship bandmate, drummer Donnie Baldwin, in a post-gig barroom fight in 1989

Jefferson Starship: Isn’t anybody having fun here?

Jefferson Starship was the 1970s successor to Jefferson Airplane, one of the most revered bands of the late 1960s counterculture. While the Airplane had everything that hippies wanted in a band (San Francisco! Woodstock and Altamont! Songs about drugs!), the Jefferson Starship (not to be confused with its follow-up band Starship), played it safe, churning out rather pedestrian AOR music.

While members came and went (and went and came), there was a point when the only Airplane member was the crabby old hippie, Paul Kantner, as Grace Slick was tied up in rehab and Marty Balin handed in his notice. With no relations (bar Kantner) tying them to the past, the band morphed more and more into a “corporate rock” act, until Kantner left the party, taking “Jefferson” with him and the rest of the guys (and girl) became Starship, which is a story for another time…

Downside: “Jane’s” descendants include Aldo Nova’s “Fantasy” and Bon Jovi’s “Runaway.”

Band: Toto
Signature Hit: Africa
Member: Bobby Kimball
Fun Fact: Pre-Toto, he sang for the unsuccessful Three Dog Night spinoff group, S.S. Fools
What He Doesn’t Want You To Know: It’s either Toto’s “Rosanna” or “Africa” video – we report, you decide

Toto: The uncoolest-looking band in rock history!

Wow, Toto. What can you say about Toto? A group of Foreigner or Journey wannabes? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) That they were the most dorky (not to mention pretentious) looking band ever? (Lose the glasses, dudes!) That’s bad enough – but far worse, these guys played on Steely Dan albums. Or even more egregiously, they released a single titled “Georgy Porgy.” (OK, I’ll stop here…)

Although the band hit right out of the land of Oz with “Hold The Line” in 1978, they meandered through the next two albums, and then with Toto IV (Chicago’s lawyers – call your office for copyright infringement), hit their stride with the mega-singles “Rosanna” and “Africa.” After which, these clowns couldn’t hold it together for another album – Kimball was booted for drug use, members started leaving and the band couldn’t get another big hit to save its life. Fake Bobby Kimballs have come and gone, members have croaked and yet the band plays on.

Downside: Toto: Coming to a mid-sized theatre near you!

Band: Boston
Signature Hit: More Than A Feeling
Member: Barry Goudreau
Fun Fact: He was the first band member jettisoned by buzzkill Boston leader, Tom Scholz, following the successful
Don’t Look Back album and tour
What He Doesn’t Want You To Know: The band never played a note of music before an audience until after their debut album was released

Boston: Four men and an afro.

Ah, 1976. That’s when the best feel-good “stoner dude whose catatonic state doesn’t allow him to notice that his chick has left him in his reverie” song became an all-time rock classic, right? Both Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” and its eponymous debut album became instant hits, and the band went from opening for Black Sabbath to headlining arenas rather quickly.

Unlike the others in this blog post, Barry Goudreau was NOT the vocalist with Boston. (Brad Delp was.) However, Goudreau played lead and rhythm guitar for the band. But one dirty little secret about Boston (the album AND the band): It was mastermind Tom Scholz who played the entire album (except for drums and vocals) and the rest of the band were late-to-the-party hired guns.

Although they all played on Boston’s sophomore album, Don’t Look Back, relationships between Scholz and all members not named Brad Delp soured (for various reasons) soon afterwards, and Goudreau got the boot, mostly because CBS promoted his 1980 solo album as “Almost Boston!” Oops. By the time Boston’s Third Stage album was released in September 1986, Goudreau was a mere footnote in the band’s legacy, along with former bandmates, drummer Sib Hashian (R.I.P.) and bassist Fran Sheehan. Don’t mess with Tom Scholz, he’ll sue anybody.

Downside: Boston’s 1976 debut has sold more than 17 million copies; its latest effort, 2013’s Life, Love & Hope, less than 25,000.