07:05 PM CDT on Thursday, April 15, 2004
By MIKE DANIEL / The Dallas Morning News
Many of us worship somebody in the music biz. How we show our devotion (by collecting albums, joining fan clubs or lingering long into the night on Internet discussion groups) defines our faith.
Then there are tribute bands. They're seen by many as the seminal form of musical hero worship, the path for those who believe imitation is the only way to total sonic salvation. Practitioners sometimes become so enveloped that they begin to believe they're the real thing.
Which isn't to suggest that anyone in Dallas' modest but diverse tribute-band scene is that far gone. Not at all. Yet the leaders of A Hard Night's Day, Back in Black, Diamondbag, Oliver's Army and Queen for a Day all proudly claim a slightly unnatural devotion to the performers they mimic. It doesn't hurt that there's money to be made by acting like rock legends, either. But as they testify below, these cover musicians temper their beliefs with one absolute truth: It's only rock 'n' roll, and they like it.
Queen for a Day
Word on the street is that Brian May, the legendary guitarist for Queen, is itching to see Queen for a Day when he visits Dallas for the Crossroads Guitar Festival in early June. He's heard that Gregory Finsley's early-era impression of flamboyant Queen singer Freddie Mercury is scary in its realism. Mr. Finsley and the band have pre-1982 Queen (before synthesizers took over) down so well that they regularly make appearances in Midwest cities such as St. Louis, a regional hotbed for tribute acts, and all over the South.
The players: Gregory Finsley (Freddie Mercury, lead vocals), Brian Harris (Brian May, guitar), Jimmy Cleaver (John Deacon, bass guitar), Alan Mouradian (Roger Taylor, drums).
Formed: Summer of 2002.
Spokesman: Mr. Harris.
The gist: "Queen for a Day is a band of musicians, really, really great musicians, who just happen to be fans of Queen's music. ... We love other bands, but Queen started so many great rock traditions and sounds. We don't do the elaborate vocal thing; we do it as they did it for real in the early days."
The genesis: "Gregory and I were jamming together, and I heard Greg sing 'Somebody to Love.'... It just blew me away how similar he sounded. ... Then the biggest light bulb went off in my head. Within two weeks, we were rehearsing. ... And after the first five songs were down, I booked our first gig at Dada, and we were off."
Why are you worthy? "We pay strict attention to what they gave
us as a band. We don't try to redesign
anything. We try to flavor the songs as if Freddie was the man, because the tribute is really for him. We try to deliver what we grew up with and what made us go 'wow' about Queen."
Favorite songs: "For the audience, it's 'Fat Bottom Girls.' Almost all Queen songs are singalong songs at their core. 'Somebody to Love' is my favorite for us to do live, but personally I like 'It's Late' and 'Dragon Attack.' "
Most requested song: "Bohemian Rhapsody."
We hate to play: " 'Another One Bites the Dust,' but we'll do it with a gun to our head. Also, any of the recent stuff, the last five years of the band. For us, they stopped existing when they stopped touring the U.S., though we do 'Under Pressure' and 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' on occasion."
Brushes with greatness: "I met Brian May years ago. The only person from the band that I've had any access to would be him."
Tribute-band myths: "It's a myth that a lot of us tribute guys are hacks that couldn't come up with anything on our own. That's just absurd. We're far from hacks, and the original stuff we have is far from sounding like Queen. We also don't go home to tiny little shrines in our closets, though I'm sure there are some in bands who do. We just have so much fun doing this, so why not?"
Queen fans might think twice about seeing you if they