Wednesday, June 4, 2014

$25 to Assemble a Rock Band

There is a recent Twitter trend to give someone $25 to choose a sports team and Matt Norlander of CBS Sports and Sports on Earth jumped on the trend, except he assembled a band for $25. Here are the options and the prices for each member in this Tweet.

I immediately have a couple of issues with this. John Mayer for $7 on rhythm guitar? Make him a lead guitarist and lower the price. Also, Mick Jagger is not a strong vocalist so I think $9 is a bit overpriced for him. $1 for John Paul Jones? That's a gimme for how good of an arranger, bassist and keyboardist he is. Yeah, I'm already spoiling that he's in my band. I'm not a big Rush fan so $10 for Neal Peart is overpriced for my tastes. Also, no women on the list. Very sexist.

Here's my band for $25, starting off with the lead guitarist. Please remember I am starting a band, which means singing and the ability to play other instruments as well as write great songs is important to me.

Lead Guitar: Prince, $8

The guy can play guitar exceptionally well and he writes great music. Personally I would choose Lindsay Buckingham if he were available (and he would have been cheap, which allows me to go expensive elsewhere), but he was not. Regardless, Prince can play all sorts of music. He can play soul, rock, pop, you name it and he can play it, plus he's got the vocals and songwriting chops. Secretly, I just want to see him singing background vocals just to see how that would work. He's the best for the prices given on this list.

Hendrix, Vaughn, and the others are great (except for Eric Clapton who I think is just a bit overrated in some aspects in his guitar playing...he's technically great, but lacks some soul to me), but I don't find another lead guitar player who combines the songwriting, vocals, and ability to play guitar that Prince has.

Rhythm Guitar: Stone Gossard, $1

My biggest issue with this category is that all the guitarists but Keith Richards, Gossard, and James Hetfield are the lead guitarist in their band. Even Gossard and Richards play lead guitar at times. So I like to choose a pure rhythm guitarist, which means only Hetfield really fits. James Hetfield probably doesn't have the range and Keith Richards is too expensive for me to choose. It's not that Gossard is sloppy seconds or thirds, but he's an excellent rock guitarist who blends in well with the rest of the band and contributes background vocals. I like band members who can contribute in various ways. Gossard also wrote the music for "Alive," so that's enough to put him on this list.

Lead Singer: Freddie Mercury, $10

I saved my money, pinched my pennies and got the vocalist I wanted. I'm not a huge fan of Queen's music. It's very operatic and a little too overdone and dramatic for my tastes, but that is also what makes Freddie Mercury the perfect lead singer for my band. Can you imagine him on stage with Prince? Mercury had great stage presence and knew how to put on a show as the lead singer. His range was ridiculous, and yes, he can play piano if my bassist is too busy playing the bass to play piano. So while I'm not a huge fan of Queen, I understand that Freddie Mercury was a great vocalist and worth the money here.

Jagger is a great performer, but he's not a great vocalist.

Plant, Daltry, Rose, and Osborne don't really fit the sound I want with the band.

David Bowie would be a good choice but I've never really thought of him as strong on vocals for some reason. The same goes for Jim Morrison who is a great writer, but also isn't the best of singers. Plus, there is always the chance he shows his penis on stage which isn't something I want for my band.

Bono is a douche and I feel like he and my drummer won't get along, plus I'm not in love with his songwriting ability.

Steven Tyler annoys me by going to his high register and screaming instead of just singing the words to a song. "Dream On" was the worst thing to happen to Tyler's vocals. It made him believe he needs to screech on every single track whenever he gets the slightest chance. I need a vocalist who can cool it down when I want him to.

Bassist: John Paul Jones, $1

There's no way John Paul Jones should be $1. He is a fantastic arranger, great at playing different instruments (keyboards especially), can do vocals and plays a great bass. He's honestly everything I would want in a bassist and he only cost me $1. There's really no need to discuss the other bassists too much, but of course I will.

Flea...he's good, but not as good as Jones. I don't want the other bassists on the list in my band. Paul McCartney is a guy who can play multiple instruments, but I think he is a bit overrated in the songwriting department. Plus, I feel like he would want to play "Hey Jude" at every show and want to sing lead on a few songs. I didn't hire Freddie Mercury for $10 to have him take the background on 5-6 songs in concert. I would worry about this with Prince, but I think he would also enjoy just playing lead guitar. John Paul Jones is very clearly my guy.

Drummer: Dave Grohl, $4

Ironically (not ironically) I did not like the Them Crooked Vultures album even though I love Grohl, Jones, and Josh Homme, as well as their respective bands, separately. Maybe if there are five guys in the band instead of three, and Homme isn't the lead singer, I will like a collaboration from them better. Dave Grohl is also very versatile and has a background in different types of instrumentation. You can see I value versatility and Grohl can play drums, guitar, and pretty much he sings and doesn't mind singing background vocals from the drum kit. Plus, he is a great songwriter and works hard at making new music. He can drag these other guys (you know, the ones who aren't dead) into the studio to make new music.

Grohl was my #1 choice, and I like the other candidates, but I didn't think they would fit in as well with my band as Grohl would. I can see him playing drums behind Freddie Mercury and jamming with Prince onstage. For some reason, this was an easy choice for me.

So this is my band that cost $24:

Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, keyboards)
Stone Gossard (background vocals, rhythm guitar)
Prince (background vocals, lead guitar)
John Paul Jones (keyboards, strings, bass guitar)
Dave Grohl (drums, keyboards, guitar, background vocals)

I sort of wish I could see this band in concert now.


  1. Frontman - $10 - Freddie Mercury
    I'm not really interested in any of the other singers on this list. I feel as if everyone else on this list is overpriced and Freddie Mercury is underpriced. He's that good.

    Lead Guitar - $5 - Eddie Van Halen
    I basically bought the other four guys and had $5 left. You could do worse than have him on lead guitar.

    Bassist - $4 - Flea
    Well worth more than the $4 for him.

    Drummer - $4 - Dave Grohl
    A bargain at triple the price. He's amazing.

    Rhythm Guitar - $2 - Jonny Greenwood
    I'm not a big fan of Radiohead but I understand how good they are. He'll be great in the studio because he can play everything.

  2. I feel like Freddie Mercury could sing whatever I wanted him to sing. That's why I like him. He can do loud rock, he can do softer rock. Just a great voice.

    See, I like Eddie Van Halen, but he's such a pill to work with and has his own weird visions that I didn't want him part of the band. I over-thought this a lot. I would like to see him and Mercury work together though.

    Dave Grohl for $4. That's like signing Bryce Harper to a 7 year $80 extension. Yes, please. He can do it all and has proven he can work with a variety of band members.

    I don't think I appreciate Greenwood as much as I should. It's just an issue of me getting stuck on the studio theatrics and work that Radiohead does. I think the actual musicianship gets lost for me.

    I am infatuated with John Paul Jones, so I didn't even really consider other bassists. Too much tunnel vision on my part.

  3. I just finally read this post, and I like this idea. Here's mine.

    Frontman--Bono $3; He can't play any instruments and he gets along with his band mates. He might be a douche, but staying with U2 for so long, that's a pretty good band mate. I love his voice.

    Lead Guitarist: Terry Kath (I know he is not listed, which shows how little these guys know guitar gods,) (Chicago). He can do all styles with ease. He will complement the singer and the drummer.

    Drummer: John Bonham ($9) I like Mike Mangini (of Dream Theater) and Marco Minnemann as drummers (they are probably the most technical proficient drummers on the planet and can do some weird time signature riffs) but John is better at 4/4 and has an incredible ear for timing.

    Bassist: John Paul Jones ($1) What only $1 for him?!? There are plenty of bassists who can play but cannot create their own music
    or create a unique sound, but John Paul Jones continues to create sound with the bass that is unique and at all styles. Victor Wooten is good, but he is more of a Jazz bassist than a rock bassist, plus he is a thumber, not a finger picker.

    Keyboardist (I hate rhythm guitars): Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater, Dixie Dregs) His ability to put in sounds and play the keyboard is unparalleled in rock music today. The only to Jordan is probably Rick Wakeman.

    That original $25 list is very limited to those who are in the popular bands.

    I like your list though, I would pay money to see them perform :)

  4. There were a few guys who didn't make the list I think should have. What's interesting is the list included really popular, mainstream artists or artists that aren't popular at all but are considered masters. So there was no inbetween really on the list. For example, I wouldn't have chosen her, but Ann Wilson should be represented and I do think Lindsay Buckingham should have been on the list. I don't know anyone who hates rhythm guitars all that much. You are the first!

    It's in bad taste to make jokes about guns and Terry Kath, so I will leave that alone. He was pretty good. Obviously 25 to 6 to 4 is a classic. That's back before Chicago became ballad-only.

    I'm disturbed by the John Paul Jones thing. It vexes me. I don't think I had money for Bonham but I'm not sure I would have chosen him either. It was just an exercise a college basketball writer did, but I think a keyboardist would have been interesting to add. I know who I would not have chosen...Dennis DeYoung.

  5. I would like to pay for John Paul Jones from the list. He is a great versatile personality and his talent of playing different instruments is fabulous. He always empowered every rocks bands, which he joined.