Round Round Round Round I Get Around - Musicians In Multiple Bands
Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Being in a band is my go-to daydream. One minute, I am replacing Johnny Marr in The Smiths in 1987 and they keep going and I am able to dissuade Moz from his later dubious views and becoming This Alarming Man. Other days, I am playing bass in Duran Duran (as you do), or I'm the new lead singer in Marillion (admittedly, a very niche daydream…).
However, the dream never became reality due to three insurmountable hurdles.
I can’t sing - I was in the school choir until nature kicked in and now I sound ridiculous. At best I can pull off a drunk pub singer doing Elvis. It ain’t pretty.
I can’t play - I had a bass guitar in the late 80s, but only managed to learn the bass line to Save A Prayer, Rio and Love Will Tear Us Apart. I was crap. I stuck to air guitar. Wisely.
I can't dance - I can cut a rug as well as the next bloke, but I am no Wojtek from The Blue Aeroplanes or Bez....my melons remain firmly untwisted...
So, this will remain a daydream and happy place to wander off to when life all gets too much. But for others, being in a successful band is not just a reality, they’ve done it multiple times. Selfish, lucky, bastards.
There are lots of lists on the inter-web of these peeps, but the lists are largely dominated by heavy rock bands you and I have never heard of, or are wrong (lazy music journalists).
So, here is my list of some of the best polyamorous musicians (not quite the right word...polybandorous..?).
NB for the purposes of this list, I left out session musicians - Guy Pratt (co-host of the fabulous Rockonteurs podcast with Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet) is Wikipedia’s definition of a musician and who's amazing career includes playing with Icehouse, Stephen Duffy, Robert Palmer, Kirsty MacColl, Madonna, The Associates, The Orb, Debbie Harry, Tears For Fears, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, Echo & The Bunnymen, Natalie Imbruglia, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Iggy Pop, Julian Lennon, Nick Mason, Pink Floyd, David Gilmour, Bryan Ferry, The Dream Academy, The Power Station…..and Jimmy Nail (Auf Wiedersehen Pratt anyone?). He was almost in The Smiths briefly as well. Lucky, lucky bastard. But he was largely not a full member so doesn’t count for my purposes. Sorry dude.
He is only topped by another bass player, the amazing Carol Kaye who played with Richie Valens, The Crystals, The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Nancy Sinatra, Lee Hazlewood, Simon and Garfunkel, Buffalo Springfield, The Mothers Of Invention, The Monkees, Sonny and Cher, Glen Campbell, JJ Cale, Matthew Sweet, Frank Black, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and many many more! I am sure Guy is happy to be beaten by such an amazing woman. But again, she does not make the list for the same reason. Sorry Carol. I know you are gutted.
That said, Bass players are clearly all musical sluts…maybe that’s why I tried to become one? Anyway, I digress. Here we go:
1. Johnny Marr
Mr Marr was a full member of The Smiths, The Pretenders, Electronic, The The, The Cribs, Modest Mouse, plus his own band, The Healers and his fabulous solo work. Plus he has played with Bryan Ferry, Pet Shop Boys, Oasis, The Charlatans, Hans Zimmer and many more. That’s basically most of the bands I like. (Though Modest Mouse - really??).
2. Dave Grohl
Drummer, singer, guitarist - he clearly got the talent that the Lord planned for me…Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures, Queens Of The Stone Age, Probot, Killing Joke - all this despite bearing an unfortunate resemblance to Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen...
3. Midge Ure
Slik, Rich Kids, Visage, Thin Lizzy, Ultravox, solo artist, Band Aid trustee and all round decent chap. Met him. When they say “don’t meet your heroes”, they are not referring to Midge. He was lovely.
4. New Order
What a talented bunch they are:
Bernard Sumner - Joy Division, New Order, Electronic, Bad Lieutenant
Peter Hook - Joy Division, New Order, Revenge, Monaco, Freebass, The Light
Stephen Morris - Joy Division, New Order, The Other Two, Bad Lieutenant
Gillian is a slacker, only being in NO and The Other Two (but we forgive her because she is fab).
5. Damon Albarn
Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Rocket Juice & The Moon, solo artist plus he let his inner Peter Gabriel loose, making Mali Music.
6. Vince Clarke
Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly, Erasure, West India Company, The Clarke and Ware Experiment, VCMG...he also mixed Happy Mondays, Betty Boo, Simple Minds, Goldfrapp, Future Islands, Soft Cell, OMD, Ladytron and many more. He really is the godfather of electronic music, which I don’t think he gets credit for...Hard to believe Hotel California by The (dreadful) Eagles is one of his favourite albums...
7. Jack White
The Upholsterers, The Go, Goober & The Peas, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, solo artist. Have a sneaky feeling he may be a dick, but Seven Nation Army forgives a lot of sins.
8. Jeff Lynne
The Move, ELO, Travelling Wilburys and producer extraordinaire. Bad hair, mind...
9. Neil Finn
Split Enz, Crowded House, Finn, The Finn Brothers, Pajama Club, 7 Worlds Collide, solo artist. Oh, and cocaine enthusiasts Fleetwood Mac...
10. Kim Deal
Pixies, The Breeders, The Amps. She’s cool, and the only person on this list with a song written to testify this (Cool As Kim Deal by The Dandy Warhols).
11. Andy Bell
Ride, Oasis, Hurricane #1, Beady Eye, solo. Was NOT in Erasure though.
12. Nick Cave
Nick Cave with The Bad Seeds, Grinderman, The Birthday Party, solo artist. And he duetted with Kylie. I should be so lucky. Bastard.
13. John McGeoch
Magazine, Visage, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Armoury Show, Public Image Ltd. True story, Teenage JO’B was once in WHSmiths in Bexleyheath nodding along to a song by PIL and was asked by an incredulous girl if I actually liked the song. For some absolutely unknown reason, I claimed that I liked it because John McGeoch was my brother. Clearly nonsense, I am the classic only child...
14. Tanya Donnelly
Throwing Muses, The Breeders, Belly, solo artist, plus worked with the Parkinson Sisters. Covered Ocean Rain by Echo & The Bunnymen - respect.
15. Robert Smith
The Cure, The Glove, Siouxsie and the Banshees - it’s all just a bunch of goths though isn’t it?
Honorary mention - Charley Stone
Salad, Gay Dad, Joanne Joanne (the BEST all-female Duran Duran tribute band ever), Desperate Journalist, The Fallen Women, Keith Top Of The Pops And His Minor U.K. Celebrity All-Star Backing Band, Linus, Nightnurse, Fosca, The Priscillas plus solo releases. Not famous, but that's a pretty cool CV.
Paul Carrack - Ace, Squeeze, Mike & The Mechanics, solo - nice voice, but one feels he’s a bit dull?
Paul McCartney - The Beatles, Wings, The Fireman, The Mojo Filters, solo. He’s Macca, he doesn’t need lists.
Paul Rodgers - Free, Bad Company, The Firm, The Law, Queen, solo. I just hate his voice.
Eric Clapton - Yardbirds, Cream, Derek & The Dominoes, Blind Faith, solo. But he’s anti-lockdown so he is a complete ******.