5 Bands That Should Have Been Enormous – But Blew It.
Origin: The ‘Mats (as their dedicated fan base used to refer to them) were formed in
Band Members: Paul Westerberg (vocals, guitar); Chris Mars (drums, vocals); Bob Stinson (guitar); Tommy Stinson (bass)
Best Album: “Tim” (1985)
Second Best Album: “Let It Be” (1984)
Best Song: “Can’t Hardly Wait”
Second Best Song: “Bastard of Young”
Why They Should Have Made It: Rock and roll magazine “Trouser
What Went Wrong: They were drunks. The band often showed up to gigs totally shit-faced. They refused to release any videos for MTV at a time when it was necessary in order to break into the national scene (they submitted a video for “Alex Chilton” that showed the band sitting on chairs and a couch doing nothing). They were banned from “Saturday Night Live” because they were drunk on stage and Paul Westerberg swore during their performance. In the end, they all hated each other and broke up.
Shrewd DP Observation: They were so damn close, but arrogance proved to be their downfall.
Where Are They Now?: Paul Westerberg launched a solo career. Bob Stinson died at age 35 in 1995 after years of drug and alcohol abuse. His brother, Tommy Stinson, is a member of Guns ‘N Roses. Chris Mars joined Golden Smog and then had a solo career and is a talented artist.
Screaming Blue Messiahs
Origin: The Screaming Blue Messiahs formed in 1983 in
Band Members: Bill Carter (vocals, guitar); Chris Thompson (bass, vocals); and Kenny Harris (drums)
Best Album: “Gun Shy” (1986)
Second Best Album: “
Best Song: “Wild Blue Yonder”
Second Best Song: “Let’s Go Down to the Woods”
Why They Should Have Made It: The album “Gun Shy” is an alternative gem – a ferocious foray into
What Went Wrong: The band’s first top 10 hit was “I Wanna Be a Flintstone,” a novelty song (although a good one). It was a pop-infused number that didn’t do justice to the driving, angry rock from their previous efforts. It was simply the wrong image and ultimately it killed them. Dropped by their label, increase infighting among the members, finally led them to call it quits in 1989.
Shrewd DP Observation: The Screaming Blue Messiahs should have stuck to their roots. The Flintstones? Come on, man!
Where Are They Now?: In 2005, Bill Carter joined MySpace and released three previously unreleased Screaming Blue songs. He works as an artist in
Origin: The band was formed in
Band Members: Jimmer Podrasky (vocals); Tim Jemenez (drums); Chuck Wada (guitar); and Douglas Leonard (bass)
Best Album: “Town and Country” (1985)
Second Best Album: “Chance” (1990)
Best Song: “Positively, Lost Me”
Second Best Song: “Respectfully, the King of Rain”
Why They Should Have Made It: The Rave-Ups were damn fun. They were the “it” band of
What Went Wrong: The producers of “Pretty in Pink” screwed the Rave-ups by leaving them off the bestselling movie album – which most likely would have propelled them to stardom. Then the band became embroiled in a lawsuit with their record labels which put them on a three year hiatus at the peak of their popularity. In a nutshell? Bad luck ruined their chances.
Shrewd DP Observation: After a Rave-Ups show in Providence, Rhode Island in the late 1980s, DP spoke with Frontman Jimmer Podrasky and he was still bitter about being rejected by the producers of “Pretty in Pink.”
Where Are They Now?: Jimmer Podrasky has reformed the band and has an album – but no record contract. No word on the other band members.
Treat Her Right
Band Members: Mark Sandman (guitar, vocals); Billy Conway (drums); Dave Champagne (guitar, vocals) and Jim Fitting (harmonica, vocals)
Best Album: “Treat Her Right” (1986 – reissued 1988)
Second Best Album: “Tied to the Tracks” (1989)
Best Song: “I Think She Likes Me”
Second Best Song: “I Got A Gun”
Why They Should Have Made It: Treat Her Right could play – and their concerts were dynamite. Their bluesy, barroom grind became popular on college radio. They signed with RCA records that reissued their debut and put a lot of money into the band’s second album. They were also popular with other musicians. Rolling Stones backup guitar player Bob Anderson urged them to reform in 1995 and under his direction they released an acoustic album of cover songs.
What Went Wrong: Another talented, original band screwed by their record label. When “Tied to the Tracks” didn’t sell well, RCA basically pulled the plug.
Shrewd DP Observation: Mark Sandman and Billy Conway went on to form the band Morphine, which had some success in the 1990s with albums like “Cure for Pain” and “Yes.”
Where Are They Now?: Mark Sandman died during a Morphine concert in
The Screaming Trees
Origin: The band was founded by high school students in
Band Members: Van Conner (bass); Gary Lee Conner (guitar); Mark Lanegan (vocals); Mark Pickerel (drums)
Best Album: “Sweet Oblivion” (1992)
Second Best Album: “Uncle Anesthesia” (1991)
Best Song: “Nearly Lost You”
Second Best Song: “Shadow of the Season” (1993)
Why They Should Have Made It: The Screaming Trees were one of the few grunge acts that got great reviews. They were the peers of Nirvana and Soundgarden – both bands which became huge acts when the grunge sound went national. The band’s single “Nearly Lost You” was one of the best songs on the movie soundtrack for “Singles,” which was an enormous commercial success. They were a headline act in 1996’s Lollapalooza tour.
What Went Wrong: The Screaming Trees just couldn’t put personal difference aside. In-fighting, bickering, and various side projects got in the way. When “Nearly Lost You” hit big the band already had a new drummer. After the tour to support the bestselling “Sweet Oblivion” album, they basically broke up. The grunge scene passed by and well – that’s all she wrote.
Shrewd DP Observation: Dedication proved to be The Screaming Trees downfall. All the band members had side projects. Van Conner played with Dinosaur Jr. for most of 1991 rather than help support the release of the band’s first major studio album “Uncle Anesthesia.” Bad move.
Where Are They Now?: Mark Lanegan has been a vocalist for many bands since The Screaming Trees broke up. Gary Lee Conner has a new band called Amanita Caterpillar. He works as a newspaper courier in