A Band By Any Other Name

A North Dakota businessman is tired of buying tickets for shows advertised as heritage acts only to find they include none of the original members, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

Rick LaFleur is asking legislators to consider prohibiting groups from advertising the famous names if they don’t include any original members, and he’s found a sponsor for just such a bill.

Rep. Dwight Wrangham of Bismarck, N.D., is carrying the bill that allows performers to do “tribute” concerts without original members, but only if advertising makes that point clear.

“I’ve long been apprehensive about ordering tickets for fear that when I got there, there would be no one there that I recognized, and no one from that group,” Wrangham said.

LaFleur used groups billing themselves as The Platters as a prime example. Most Platters tribute acts have little or no connection to the legendary doo wop group that was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

“When they are billed as the original group, you should see at least one member of that group at that concert,” LaFleur said.

Where the issue gets sticky is when group names are owned by someone who was never in the group, LaFleur said. As the rights get sold and resold to other performers, the connection to the original group gets more tenuous and often nonexistent.

“There has been a lot of misinformation, and this is an attempt to correct that,” he said.

But not everyone agrees Wrangham’s legislation can do much to stop legal owners from using the names.

Rep. Andrew Maragos said, “If they have the legal right to use the name ‘The Platters,’ then they are not purporting to be anything they are not.”