1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Terminology: Front Man

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Norton72, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Norton72

    Norton72 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,696
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Burton, Texas
    This weekend I was watching AXS TV. They had a special on Guitar Gods which was hosted by, um, Sammy Hagar. I caught some of Peter Frampton, saw the end of Ronnie Montrose and all of David Gilmour. (I had planned to watch all of the Ronnie Montrose segment, but it started out with a well-known guitarist that I felt sounded decidedly un-Montrose like.) During the Ronnie Montrose segment, it occurred to me that Sammy Hagar has been fortunate to front a couple of amazing bands, namely Montrose and Van Halen. (I've not ever really been a fan of Van Halen, but I do recognize the value of their work.) I had the Montrose album, I think it was 1973, and have always thought that Ronnie Montrose was way ahead of his time and admired his work on the album. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was not even aware of his work with Van Morrison and Edgar Winter until I saw that show this weekend. I also did not realize that Sammy Hagar wrote many of the songs on the Montrose album. I guess my memory of the liner notes is somewhat dim.

    But, back to my point. Sammy Hagar, lead singer, sometimes guitar player, is called the front man because I guess that's what the term means, the man out front, the one most of the attention is focused on. But to me, he was never the star of the show, to me he was a sideman. I see that this makes no sense, it's just the box I put him in in my head.

    I have brought this subject up several times before on this forum, because I am primarily a singer. I've never cared for the term "lead singer" and most definitely haven't ever liked being cast into the role of "front man." Maybe that's why I am not currently in a band. I prefer to think of the band as a whole, whose collective efforts produce good music. I do understand that "the people" tend to focus on the singer, so it is important the he have stage presence, be charismatic, etc. I guess I'm not one of those people. I like to watch the musicians, I like to see how they make the sounds that come from their instruments.

    I noticed when Sammy Hagar performed with the rest of the surviving members of Montrose, (with Joe Satriani on guitar) that he played a lot of air guitar. I think a lot of "lead singers" are really self-conscious about not playing an instrument. I think they feel that they are not fully contributing to the song if only singing. I know that this has been a problem for me. (Note: I would never play air guitar on stage.) I also thought it was strange that after the performance, Sammy Hagar, Denny Carmassi (drums) and Bill Church (bass) took their bows together on the opposite side of the stage from Joe Satriana. This show was to commemorate Ronnie Montrose, not to showcase the remaining members of the Montrose band. I thought this was very tacky. I felt that Satch made a conscious effort to stay true to the Montrose songs, only rarely venturing off into his own thing. To leave him out at the end I thought was a glaring insult.

    I know I'm wandering off topic here a lot with my ramblings. I don't want to name any names here, but there are many iconic bands that I could name in which the "front man" is the least interesting person in the band to me. Of course there are many front men with very flamboyant personalities that make them hard to miss, but that rarely comes out over the radio. Meh, I guess I don't really have a point, just wanted get this out.
     
  2. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    66
    Posts:
    12,794
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2003
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Sammy H. can play some pretty good guitar, too, y'know... and he fronted his own band for many, many years. But when he is asked to sing with a group named after a guitar player, he leaves the guitar playing to that exceptional player. And the exceptional players leave the "front-man" role to Sammy, because he's good at that. Ronnie Montrose knew that, so did Eddie Van Halen. I'm sure Joe S does too. You do what you do, and the other guy does what he does.
     
  3. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    22,582
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Location:
    Englewood, CO
    I agree that any band is a team effort but just like in football somebody has to call the plays and keep the ball moving. Whether he or she is playing an instrument of not that is the job of a "front man". Someone has to do it and preferably from stage center as opposed to off in the wings somewhere.

    I've done it as a bassist, as a guitarist and also primarily as a vocalist and I never felt less a critical part of the act when most of what I was doing was just singing. There's as much or more work that goes into that as their is being an instrumentalist. A player can disguise a wrong note or a wrong chord but if you screw up as a vocalist the whole world knows it.
     
  4. Norton72

    Norton72 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,696
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Burton, Texas
    I agree, and I forgot to mention also that Sammy still has the vocal chops. He is good at what he does, and I am aware that he has fronted his own band. I have seen him play guitar but don't really recall when.

    I know that all you are saying is true, I don't mean to say anything counter to that. Please don't think I am discounting anyone's talent or abilities. I didn't mean to do that. I know that from a performance standpoint, a front man is necessary in most cases. I've just never felt comfortable with it myself. I prefer to blend in.

    I probably should have never started this thread. I was just bouncing some personal thought off the board I guess.
     
  5. Tim Armstrong

    Tim Armstrong Super Moderator Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    19,376
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2003
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I think some bands have a front man, some not so much. I'd define it as the person who interacts the most with the audience, be that by singing, talking to them between songs, or is the visual focal point of the performance. It doesn't have to be just one person, and it can even be a drummer!
     
  6. brewwagon

    brewwagon Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,043
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    the delta bc
    ....Dave Clark of The Dave Clark Five was the group's drummer, not the main vocalist (this role was fulfilled by Mike Smith).
     
  7. brewwagon

    brewwagon Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,043
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    the delta bc
    example of a group pet mascot= angus young :twisted:
     
  8. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    25,993
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Location:
    Port Moody, BC
    The Stones have a frontman. The Beatles did not. Did it matter?
     
  9. brewwagon

    brewwagon Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,043
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    the delta bc
    ...the walrus was paul

    Mick Jagger is one of the most recognisable and influential British musicians of the modern era. As lead singer and songwriter for The Rolling Stones, a prolific and much sought-after collaborator, a successful producer and a lauded solo artist in his own right, Mick has set and maintained the gold standard for popular performance and creativity for nearly five decades.
    from http://www.mickjagger.com/category/biography
     
  10. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    66
    Posts:
    12,794
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2003
    Location:
    Netherlands
    no problem there Mr. Norton72. We all like to talk about stuff.
     
  11. brewwagon

    brewwagon Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,043
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    the delta bc
    when i think of "van halen" i think of diamond dave too
     
  12. Norton72

    Norton72 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,696
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Burton, Texas
    No, I didn't think it made a difference at all. They are the model band IMO, a collaboration of four great musicians.
     
  13. kelnet

    kelnet Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    25,993
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2008
    Location:
    Port Moody, BC
    Well, the Beatles broke up. Perhaps if they'd had a definite frontman and leader they would have stayed together.
     
  14. surfoverb

    surfoverb Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    12,390
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Location:
    Virginia
    as much as I dont like Van Hagar he is a great showman. also, I never realized how old he was until I saw a doc on woodstock where he was one of the people being interviewed that was in the audience. Hes older than Mick Taylor.

    interesting about leaders of the band I saw The Ventures about 5-6 years ago (before Bob Bogle died) and although Don Wilson was the obvious frontman ( he spoke to the crowd and even sang a few songs) the dynamic of the band was apparent to me the drummer was the leader. The drummer is Leon Taylor, son of the amazing Mel Taylor, and although he is much younger than the rest he called the shots. I stood 2 feet from Nokie and watched as he would look to Leon for what songs to play, when to start etc; at one point Leon gave Don eye daggers cuz he was talking too much lol
     
  15. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    66
    Posts:
    12,794
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2003
    Location:
    Netherlands
    since this is about terminology - I think we should note the difference between the 'band leader' and the 'front man'. Frank Sinatra was a fine 'front man', but that didn't make him the 'band leader'.
     
  16. brewwagon

    brewwagon Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,043
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    the delta bc
    benny goodman 1937



    ...what a crew of hop heads
     
  17. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    41,465
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    Location:
    San Benito County, California
    Derek St. Holmes made Nugent listenable.

    I dig this thread because you are just thinking, not concluding.. very cool thread!

    When I sit in with people (sub gigs) I like to play "who is really the band leader"?

    it is not always the front man nor even the guy whose name is on the marquis.

    I think Garry Tallent kind of runs the the springsteen band.

    John Paul Jones was probably the guiding principle in LZ.

    Townsend in the who (although Daltrey was front man)

    it kind of varies… Montrose was the man with the plan in his band.. even in Sammy's solo stuff.. didn't he have a svengali type producer who kind of guided the whole thing…

    David Lee Roth could really lead an audience where Sammy was kind of the guy you wished he wouldn't talk between songs, right?

    some bands have 'leaders' and some bands have 'glue guys'… they often serve the same role, but it is a little different in most bands.
     
  18. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    47
    Posts:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Location:
    DC Burbs
    A friend across the country sent me video of his band from this past weekend. He's the guitarist. Its a cover band that plays 80s stuff. I watched up through the solo in the song. The singer was waving to the crowd, making hearts with his hand, jumping around wildly, etc etc. I replied that it must be hard to share an evening with that guy...reminds me of my 8 year old son. He said he's the "brand" of the band.

    I'm glad there's guys like that. I need to hide behind my guitar if I'm in front of people.
     
  19. Norton72

    Norton72 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,696
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Burton, Texas
    I don't know the real story, but I always kind of get the feeling that a power struggle is what really led to the breakup. So yes, a definitive and agreed to leader may have kept the Beatles going.
     
  20. brewwagon

    brewwagon Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,043
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    the delta bc
    beatles had george martin calliing the shots

    stones have mick running the roost (-show)
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.