Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Tribute act

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Tribute act

A tribute act, tribute band or tribute group is a music group, singer, or musician who specifically plays the music of a well-known music act. Tribute acts include individual performers who mimic the songs and style of an artist, such as Elvis impersonators covering the works of Elvis Presley or groups like The Iron Maidens, an all-female band that pays tribute to Iron Maiden.


Many tribute bands, in addition to playing the music of an artist or group, also try to emulate the vocal styles and overall appearance of that group, to make as close an approximation as possible. Others introduce a twist on the original act; for example, Only One Direction have created a theatre show in London's West End around their act. Dread Zeppelin plays Led Zeppelin songs in a reggae style with a lead singer dressed up as Elvis Presley, while Gabba perform the songs of ABBA in the style of the Ramones.

Tribute bands usually name themselves based on the original band's name (sometimes with a pun), or on one of their songs or albums.


The first tribute acts to emerge may have been Beatles tribute bands, such as The Buggs, who attempted to look and sound like The Beatles while playing their songs. However, one might argue that Elvis impersonators qualify as well. Neil Innes's band "The Rutles", a humorous take on the Beatles achieved tremendous success with a film backed by George Harrison.

Although initially created to honor the original bands, many tribute bands have grown to have their own fan base. Only One Direction have performed to hundreds of thousands of fans, have completed four UK theatre tours, and debuted in their own show on London's West End in October 2015.

Those bands and artists that have inspired a cult following in their fans tend to have a significant tribute band presence as well, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Sabbath, Journey, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Styx, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Madonna, The Misfits, Queen, Alice in Chains, Grateful Dead, Van Halen, ABBA, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Cars, R.E.M., Rammstein, Neil Diamond, and Steely Dan.

More recently, tribute acts have looked to capitalize on the success of the pop genre, with a heavy focus on newer acts such as One Direction, Adele, Take That, The Wanted. Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and Beyoncé.

David Daniel, the pastiche artist and the most versatile singing impersonator (he impersonates over 80 artists), goes further than the usual impersonator or tribute band, not only impersonating the voice of an artist, but writing original songs that impersonate their style. In The Brittles, a Beatles-pastiche band, he performs his own beatlesque songs. As The Great Pretender, he impersonates everyone from Elvis Presley to Louis Armstrong, Neil Young, the Bee Gees, and Led Zeppelin.

In 1997, the British journalist Tony Barrell wrote a feature for The Sunday Times about the UK tribute-band scene, which mentioned bands including Pink Fraud, the Pretend Pretenders and Clouded House. In the piece, Barrell asserted that "the main cradle of the tribute Australia. Starved of big names, owing to their reluctance to put Oz on their tour itineraries, Australians were quite unembarrassed about creating home-grown versions. Then, like an airborne seed, one of these bands just happened to drift to Britain." The band in question was the ABBA tribute Björn Again, who staged a successful publicity stunt in the early 1990s, arriving at Heathrow Airport in white one-piece outfits similar to the ones worn by ABBA on the cover of their 1976 album, Arrival. Other tribute acts such as The Beatnix (Beatles), Zeppelin Live, and The Australian Pink Floyd Show have experienced continued popularity for over a decade.

In 1998, two men who were in a Blues Brothers tribute band changed their names officially by deed poll to Joliet Jake Blues and Elwood Jake Blues. They also are the only men in the UK to have their sunglasses on in their passport and driver's licence photos.

In 2000, filmmakers Jeff Economy and Darren Hacker produced the documentary film ...An Incredible Simulation, which examined the tribute band phenomenon. Produced separately and independently in 2001 was the documentary Tribute by directors Kris Curry and Rich Fox, which also covered the movement. In 2007, producers Allison Grace and Michelle Metivier produced a four-part documentary series called "Tribute Bands" for Global TV which features tributes to The Police, Queen, Rush and The Tragically Hip.

In 2002, the first biography of a tribute band was published by SAF in London. Titled Being John Lennon, the book is a humorous account of life on the road in The Beatles' tribute "Sgt. Pepper's Only Dart Board Band", written by the group's founder, Martin Dimery.

In 2003, Mandonna, an all-male tribute to Madonna, was formed in response to the rise of all-female tribute acts such as The Iron Maidens, Lez Zeppelin and AC/DShe.

In 2005, original Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ed King (co-author of "Sweet Home Alabama"), drummers Artimus Pyle and Bob Burns, and "Honkettes" Leslie Hawkins and JoJo Billingsley all played with The Saturday Night Special Band, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute from New York. This was the first tribute band to be composed of more original members than the current touring lineup of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

In 2005, tribute band Beatallica received attention when they were threatened with a lawsuit by Sony Music Entertainment over their unique interpretation of Beatles songs done in a Metallica style. With the help of Metallica drummer/co-founder Lars Ulrich, Beatallica won their legal battle, and still record and tour today.

Original Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice has played with members of the Deep Purple tribute band Purpendicular in 2002, 2004 and 2007, and the whole band in December 2008 and March 2012 (which included a surprise appearance of original Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover in Switzerland) on European tours.

David Brighton, (whose act "Space Oddity - David Brighton's Tribute to David Bowie" tours each year) featured in a short 2004 promo film with Bowie himself, together promoting the new Bowie album "Reality".

Not all tribute acts use the impersonation style. An example is The Muffin Men, who play the music of Frank Zappa in their own style, do not look like, or attempt to look like original members, and often tour with former band members. Jimmy Carl Black was a regular in the band, and they have in the past played, recorded, and toured with Ike Willis and Don Preston.

Tribute acts are not always welcomed by the original acts they are patterned after. In April 2009, Bon Jovi sued the Los Angeles-based all-female tribute Blonde Jovi for copyright infringement. After temporarily using the name Blonde Jersey, the band reverted to Blonde Jovi before disbanding on February 2010.

In 2012 the first ever television show dedicated to tribute bands called The Tribute Show made its debut on Australian cable channel Aurora Community Channel (channel 183) on Foxtel in Australia. The show is still currently on air.

In 2013, a television series titled The World's Greatest Tribute Bands appeared on American cable television network AXS TV.

List of notable tribute acts

Some notable tribute acts include (alphabetically by covered act, and alphabetically for each):

Playing music by ABBA:

  • A*Teens
  • Björn Again (Australia-based tribute)
  • Gabba (songs of ABBA in the style of The Ramones)
  • Playing music by AC/DC:

  • AC/DShe (San Francisco-based all-female band; covering only the Bon Scott era)
  • Don Coleman
  • Hayseed Dixie (began as an AC/DC tribute band before expanding to other rock covers, all in a bluegrass style)
  • Hell's Belles (Seattle-based all-female band)
  • Playing music by Aerosmith:

  • Aerochix (Boston-based all-female band)
  • Playing music by Animetal:

  • Animetal USA (American tribute to a Japanese metal band, featuring Mike Vescera, Chris Impellitteri, Rudy Sarzo and Jon Dette)
  • Playing music by The Band:

  • The Last Waltz Ensemble
  • Playing music by The Beatles:

  • 1964 the Tribute
  • Beatlejuice (founded by former Boston frontman Brad Delp)
  • Beatlemania
  • The Beatnix
  • The Bootleg Beatles
  • The Buggs (one of the earliest tribute bands)
  • The Cast of Beatlemania (former members of the Beatlemania musical)
  • The Fab Faux
  • The Fab Four
  • RAIN – A Tribute to The Beatles
  • Rubber Souldiers
  • Ultimate Beatles
  • Yellow Matter Custard (featuring Paul Gilbert and Mike Portnoy)
  • Playing music by Björk:

  • Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra
  • Playing music by Black Sabbath:

  • Sapattivuosi (Finnish tribute featuring Marco Hietala of Nightwish)
  • Playing music by Bob Dylan:

  • The Last Waltz Ensemble
  • Playing music by The Cure:

  • The Cureheads
  • Playing music by Duran Duran:

  • Joanne Joanne (all-female)
  • Playing music by Genesis:

  • The Musical Box
  • ReGenesis
  • Playing music by The Grateful Dead:

  • Dark Star Orchestra
  • Jazz Is Dead
  • Joe Russo's Almost Dead
  • Playing music by Iron Maiden:

  • The Iron Maidens (Los Angeles-based all-female band, featuring Linda McDonald of Phantom Blue)
  • Maiden uniteD
  • Playing music by KISS:

  • Mini Kiss (a little person band)
  • Playing music by Led Zeppelin:

  • Dread Zeppelin (in a reggae style with an Elvis impersonator on vocals)
  • Fred Zeppelin
  • Led Zepagain
  • Lez Zeppelin (all-female band)
  • Michael White & The White
  • Playing music by Bob Marley:

  • Katchafire (started as a tribute band before moving on to playing original music)
  • Playing music by Metallica:

  • Apocalyptica (initially only played Metallica songs on cello)
  • Playing music by Oasis:

  • No Way Sis
  • Playing music by One Direction:

  • Only One Direction
  • Playing music by the Pet Shop Boys:

  • West End Girls
  • Playing music by Pink Floyd:

  • Australian Pink Floyd Show
  • Brit Floyd
  • The Machine
  • Playing music by Queen:

  • God Save the Queen (Argentina-based tribute)
  • One Night of Queen
  • Playing music by The Ramones

  • The Osaka Ramones (Japanese band Shonen Knife performing as a Ramones tribute band)
  • The Ramainz (formerly The Ramains, featured two Ramones members)
  • Playing music by Rolling Stones:

  • Sticky Fingers, featuring musicians who have performed with Rolling Stones
  • Playing music by The Smiths:

  • Smithdom – The Smiths Tribute Band
  • The Smiths Indeed
  • Playing music by George Strait

  • Ty Taylor
  • Playing music by Sublime:

  • Badfish
  • Playing music by The Who

  • The Whodlums
  • Playing music by Frank Zappa:

  • Muffin Men
  • Zappa Plays Zappa (led by Zappa's son Dweezil Zappa)
  • Parody acts

    Some groups have played and recorded music that parodies a specific artist or band, either by performing the original songs with modified lyrics or doing more general stylistic parodies. Examples include The Rutles and Zombeatles (for The Beatles), Beatallica (for The Beatles and Metallica), Take Fat (for Take That), 2 Live Jews (for 2 Live Crew) and The Pizza Underground (for The Velvet Underground).

    They Might Be Giants has occasionally played their own tribute band, opening for themselves as Sapphire Bullets and performing the album Flood from start to finish.


    Tribute act Wikipedia