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The Misfits and Five Other Famous Bands Who've Battled Name Wars

Mick Rock

The Misfits and Five Other Famous Bands Who've Battled Name Wars
Mick Rock

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This weekend in South Florida you can catch the Misfits twice -- the first time on Friday at Revolution, and the second on Saturday at Respectable Street as part of the club's free 25th anniversary celebration. This incarnation of the Misfits, helmed by founding member Jerry Only, duly plays all the classic hits you'd expect, plus a smattering of new material from the '00s, like the band's most recent album, 2011's The Devil's Rain.

The only thing is, this particular incarnation of the Misfits bears little resemblance to its classic incarnation, with Only the, uh, only remaining original member, and now the band's frontman. Dez Cadena, former guitarist for Black Flag, and Eric Arce, formerly of Murphy's Law round out the lineup. 


Of course, the biggest missing piece is original frontman Glenn Danzig, who wrote the lion's share of the band's classic material. But after a series of legal wranglings, he lost the use of the Misfits name to Only and his brother, best known as his nickname Doyle. Even more confusingly, in more recent years, Doyle has joined Danzig himself onstage in various band formations that have also performed classic Misfits material.

This is just one example of the trademark entanglements that often ensue when bands split acrimoniously. The oldies-revival world by Boomer acts has long featured warring versions of doo wop and classic rock acts performing under similar names thanks to intra-band disagreements. But the phenomenon has spread over the years to acts popular in the '80s and beyond too. Here are five bands currently performing as incarnations that have little to do with their originals, or in concurrent versions helmed by different, disagreeing band members.

Christian Death

The current version is kind of similar to that of the Misfits, only the band's erstwhile frontman and most charismatic member, Rozz Williams, isn't even alive to front his own act. Williams founded this act in late-'70s L.A., creating what was arguably the first so-called "death rock" act ever in the U.S. He quit his own band in 1985, replaced by Valor Kand on vocals, and later took his own life in 1998. The band remains most famous for its Williams-penned material, though, and continues to form these early goth-punk classics on a kind of spooky-nostalgia circuit. 


 

LA Guns

In its early-'80s prime, this band was one of the best and most aggressive on the Sunset Strip scene, when the glam acts still played variants of metal and hard rock and had yet to turn to all-out power cheese ballads. The first incarnation of this act, led by Tracii Guns, disbanded in 1984 when it merged with Hollywood Rose to become the monstrously famous Guns 'N' Roses. It re-formed then under its own name in 1985, this time fronted by Phil Lewis. In ensuing years, though, both offshoots of this later version and another, competing version led by Tracii Guns continued to tour, both under the name L.A. Guns. Tracii finally disbanded his own group earlier this year.

Gene Loves Jezebel

This great '80s act blurred the lines between Goth and New Romantic, between rock and synth fare. Their peak days were great times for fans of unisex heavy eyeliner and blousy pirate-style shirts, and for songs like "Desire" that remain alt-club dancefloor favorites. The band, though, was fronted by identical twins, Jay and Michael Aston, and it's no surprise that sharing such a close familial and musical relationship would eventually cause a strain. These days, both Ashtons tour with their own version of the band, each with about as much of a claim to the name as the other.

 

Great White

Like L.A. Guns, these guys are long-running survivors of the L.A. hard rock scene of the '70s and '80s. Still, Great White may forever be known for the incident in which the band's onstage pyrotechnics caused a club fire in Rhode Island that killed 100 people, including the group's then-guitarist.

However, while most news reports referred to the act involved as "Great White," this was actually "Jack Russell's Great White," a version of the band then helmed by its original frontman, without the participation of the group's otehr major founding members. Different reunions have come and gone since then, but since 2011, Jack Russell's Great White competes again with regular ol' Great White, the latter featuring original (or nearly original) members Mark Kendall, Audie Desbrow, and Michael Lardie.

Kyuss

One of the younger acts to join the name-dispute fray, the original Kyuss became revered among heavy music fans for helping pioneer stoner rock. The group split in 1995, and founding guitarist Josh Homme went on to found Queens of the Stone Age. About a decade later, with mounting requests for a reunion, original vocalist John Garcia played a short tour as "John Garcia plays Kyuss," eventually being joined onstage at a few shows by fellow ex-Kyuss members Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork.

Homme still refused to do a Kyuss reunion proper, and eventually, Garcia, Oliveri, and Bjork formed their own act dubbed Kyuss Lives! They toured successfully last year playing Kyuss songs, sans Homme, until Homme sued. Oliveri eventually quit this act, too, and a judge in California ruled earlier this month that Garcia and Bjork could no longer record under the name Kyuss Lives! A reunion of Kyuss itself, with no legal qualifiers, remains the dream of stoner rock fans across the country. 


The Misfits. 8 p.m. Friday, August 24 at Revolution Live, 100 SW 3rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $12. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net

Also Saturday, August 25 at Respectable Street's 25th Anniversary Block Party. Event starts at 8 p.m. Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Admission is free. Call 561-832-9999, or visit respectablestreet.com 




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