Wilson Vs. Imposters

Doo-wop groups and other ’50s acts have been especially susceptible to imposter acts, and original The Supremes member Mary Wilson is making the fight her cause célèbre.

Wilson was at the Illinois Capitol January 24th to pitch a bill that would outlaw the activity.

She argued that imposter groups calling themselves by heritage names like The Drifters or The Supremes stage hundreds of concerts a year on cruise ships and at casinos and fairs.

“They’ve crossed the line between imitation and flattery to becoming almost like identity theft,” Wilson said, according to the Post-Dispatch Springfield Bureau.

The proposed bill would protect consumers and artists from fraud and put an end to unauthorized performances in the state, under the Illinois Fraud and Deception Act. Authorized tribute bands, trademark holders and acts that have at least one original member would be exempt.

Members of the House Committee unanimously voted to recommend that a full House pass the imposter bill.

If enacted, the state attorney general could fine violators up to $50,000 for performing under another act’s name, or issue injunctions to halt concerts before they start.

Wilson reportedly said that veteran performers – including herself – couldn’t get gigs under their own names because imposters play for less, and added that five faux-Supremes acts have toured in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

She’s spent close to $1 million filing civil lawsuits and fighting groups that impersonate The Supremes, only to lose because there are no laws to protect her, according to the State Journal-Register of Springfield.

States like Pennsylvania, South Carolina and North Dakota have passed similar legislation, the Post-Dispatch reported. Wilson said if she can persuade at least 10 more states to enact bills protecting consumers and artists from imposter groups, the law could become federal.

Nevada will reportedly be the main target for the national campaign because of the many faux groups that perform throughout the state’s casinos.