Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Unsung Musical Heroes: Sidemen


Homage to Royo's "Pensentiva" 

A recent documentary film, "Twenty Feet From Stardom" looks at the life and career of backup singers, who are so important to popular music while  at the same time so unknown by the general public.  It's an excellent look at the lives of these singers and started me thinking about the lives and careers of thousands of sidemen that are also critical to popular music and Jazz and yet live their lives virtually unknown to the listening public.

I have a lot of personal friends who have spent their lives making a living as sidemen and appear to have no problem playing 2nd fiddle to some of the most popular musical stars of our lives. I have had many conversations with these sidemen trying to understand why, for the most part, they find full satisfaction in making a living in a supporting musical role.  They seem satisfied in their supporting roles even while watching the lead singer or player take all the spotlight, oxygen, applause and most of the money.

Sidemen are really special musicians! They don't play for the glory, fame or money, their payoff is in the music. They simply love playing music, it consumes their very existence. It is who they are!

I recently observed a couple of my sidemen friends who have retired but still play and have moved into a lead position in groups they put together to perform in local restaurants. I have to say they seem to really enjoy being in front after years of being in back.  Personally, it is a good feeling for me to see at least some sidemen finally getting their day in the sun.

We will always have musical stars but without superb sidemen supporting their performance, their road to success would be a lot tougher.

Sinatra said "Here's to the Band" and I say "Here's to the the Sidemen" bless them all!

     
                                           Sinatra Singing "Here's To The Band" From "YouTube"

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