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The Tubes will headline a concert Oct. 21 at The Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda. This event also includes an opening acoustic set featuring Greg Kihn. For more information, or for tickets, visit https://rivieratheatre.org/event/the-tubes/.
The Tubes formed in 1972 in San Francisco from two bands that moved there from Phoenix: The Beans along with the Red, White and Blues Band. While musically influenced by groups like Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart – who actually recorded a song with the group on its third album – The Tubes’ theatrical satire was evident from the very beginning. All these years later, the group still consists of original members including irrepressible frontman Fee Waybill, world-class drummer Prairie Prince, virtuoso guitarist Roger Steen, and oh-so-steady bassist Rick Gator Anderson.
Led by singer Waybill – known for his classic characters, including the glam-rocking, stack-heeled Quay Lewd, the dangerous Mr. Hate or the gnarly punk parody Johnny Bugger – The Tubes released five albums on A&M Records, starting with the Al Kooper-produced self-titled debut in 1975. The album included “White Punks on Dope,” dubbed an “absurd anthem of wretched excess” and later covered by Motley Crue, German chanteuse Nina Hagen and most recently the Joe Elliot-led Down-n-Outs. The album also offered “Mondo Bondage” and “What Do You Want from Life?” – a prescient satire of consumerism and celebrity culture. With the help of Kenny Ortega, The Tubes mounted the stage show for which they’re still known, using videos as part of the presentation long before MTV was born.
“Young & Rich” (1976), produced by Ken Scott (of Beatles fame) was highlighted by the salacious “Don’t Touch Me There.” The Tubes released “Now” (1977), the live “What Do You Want From Live” (1978) and the concept album “Remote Control” (1979), their final album for A&M before leaving for Capitol Records.
The new label teamed the group up with producer David Foster for its most commercially successful (and radio-friendly) release to that point, with two hit singles in the power ballad “Don’t Want to Wait Anymore” (their first to land in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart) and the now-classic Top 10 rock radio anthem “Talk to Ya Later,” a collaboration between Fee, Foster and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather that was No. 1 in 17 countries.
“David had just produced Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘Boogie Wonderland,’ and we loved that album,” Waybill said of the approach on the funk-flavored “The Completion Backward Principle” (1981), which also included the beach party set piece, “Sushi Girl,” and the Steely Dan-ish “Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman.” Foster then produced the next album, “Outside Inside” (1983), with the chart-topping “She’s a Beauty.”
He added, “It’s so great that people still love our music and sing along at shows. The best part is, we’re a way better band today than we ever were.”
The Tubes (Photo by Mike Collopy/courtesy of Wolfson Entertainment)