The oldies concert trail is littered with deception. For every vintage rock band that has been faithfully resurrected, there are at least two or three others whose alleged "comeback" is a charade. The key players are gone, but the bit players forge ahead regardless, cashing in on the group's name while trashing its legacy.
Three of these ersatz oldies groups will be trudging into town this week and next:
* The Byrds, tonight at Winston's Beach Club in Ocean Beach. The only remaining member of the band that produced such memorable folk-rock hits of the middle 1960s as "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and "Eight Miles High" is drummer Michael Clarke.
No Roger McGuinn, whose impassioned lead vocals and ringing 12-string guitar defined the group's sound. No Chris Hillman, Gene Clark or David Crosby, whose soaring harmonies enhanced it.
Just Michael Clarke, the beater of the sticks, who last May won legal rights to keep the Byrds name after other members gave up theior rights to it.
Bill Winston, the club's owner, insists, "I'm told it will be the same. Besides, he's (Clarke) got to make a living, and all the other members are doing something else."
Adds Steve Green, the band's manager: "Many people think Michael was the only real musician in the group. And early on, he was the good-looking guy who sold all the records."
* The Tubes, also tonight, at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. Conspicuously absent will be Fee Waybill, the theatrical rock troupe's longtime lead singer, songwriter and zany front man.
"I don't think it's an issue," said Malcolm Falk of Falk and Morrow Talent, who booked the show. "Fee hasn't been with them for almost four years, and they're still a lot of fun. I don't think they should have their hands tied behind their backs just because they lost one player."
Given that mind-set, a promoter probably wouldn't have any qualm about booking Roxy Music without Bryan Ferry, the Kinks without Ray Davies, or Jethro Tull without Ian Anderson.
* The Guess Who, Feb. 3 at the Bacchanal in Kearny Mesa. Guess who won't be there: neither lead singer Burton Cummings nor lead guitarist Randy Bachman, who also wrote, or co-wrote, every one of the group's late 1960s hits, including "These Eyes," "Laughing," "Undun" and "American Woman."
Who's left? Bassist Jim Kale and drummer Garry Peterson. Gee, that should certainly stir up some memories.
"I have a longstanding relationship with their agency, and I booked the show not only as a favor to them, but to give people a chance to hear some nice vintage music," said promoter Jeff Gaulton. "This band representing the Guess Who is a quality band with talented musicians, and I have no hesitation about presenting the show at the Bacchanal."
So why is Gaulton advertising the show, in the weekly Reader, as, simply, the Guess Who, without any disclaimer?
"That's how they told me to bill it," he said. "But if people call, we tell them who's in the band--we're not trying to hide anything."
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Three weeks ago, Gaulton abruptly left the Bacchanal after an apparent power play by majority owner Robert Noble stripped him of most of his duties.
This week, he's back--sort of. He's still booking the club, as he's done for the past seven years, but this time under the auspices of Bill Silva Presents.
Gaulton, who deserves much of the credit for establishing the Bacchanal as San Diego's premier concert showcase nightclub, initially quit when he returned from vacation Dec. 29 and discovered things just weren't the same.
"I own a percentage of shares in the company that owns the Bacchanal, but not enough to make any kind of change in the way they do business," Gaulton said.
"So when I got back from vacation, I found that I had been voted off the board of directors and relieved of my managerial and administrative duties. They wanted me to continue to oversee talent and promotions, but before I could approve anything I would have to take it before a committee."
Gaulton said he opted, instead, to take a new job with Bill Silva Presents. At first, his assignment was to coordinate talent for this year's second annual Concerts in the Park series at the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park.
But after Silva struck an exclusive booking agreement with the Bacchanal last Monday, Gaulton is all of a sudden back where he started.
"I have no animosity toward any of the management of the Bacchanal," Gaulton said. "I feel it's in all the best purposes that I bring my talent and experience to Bill Silva Presents and continue my relationship, albeit in a different capacity, with the Bacchanal. That nightclub has been an integral part of my life for the last seven years, and I wish nothing but the best for that venue."