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The critique of "The Rejects" by Jamie Collinson - on the brink of fame

The critique of “The Rejects” by Jamie Collinson – on the brink of fame


There is a delicate formula to creating a successful band – a combination of musical compatibility, shared drive, camaraderie, and competition – that often elevates the group beyond its individual members. However, this mixture is inherently precarious – the enchantment rarely lasts and things usually come to an unpleasant end: someone inevitably gets ousted. Being in a band requires trust, until it becomes about betrayal.

The Rejects offers a new history of pop told from the perspective of the ones who got left behind, often on the very brink of the big time. Those early sackings are sometimes equivalent to the jettisoning of ballast – getting rid of a member who might otherwise hold you back. “Musical relationships are often forged in youth,” writes Jamie Collinson, “and a breaking of them appears emblematic of a terrible, adult hardening.”

Some of the tales are recognizable: most individuals will have a general understanding of the events surrounding Pete Best’s departure from the Beatles or Brian Jones’ exit from the Rolling Stones. Other stories involve individuals and bands that may be unfamiliar to you, depending on your musical preferences. Collinson, who spent 20 years in the music industry, possesses a knowledgeable comprehension of the fine distinctions between subgenres and effectively explains them to those with limited knowledge. This is important because disagreements in creativity – often trivial ones – often lead to sudden changes in personnel.

One lesson that can be learned from these incidents is that nobody is exempt from being fired. Florence Ballard, the founder of the Supremes, recruited two of her friends, Mary Wilson and Diane Ross, to join her in the group – Wilson from school and Ross from church. By the time they released their first No 1 single, Diane had changed her name to Diana. As their success continued and they released their 10th hit, the group’s name was changed to Diana Ross & the Supremes. In 1967, Ballard, who struggled with alcoholism and weight issues, was let go from the group, given a severance package, forced to give up her royalty rights, and forbidden from using her former title as a Supreme. The remaining members, with Cindy Birdsong taking Ballard’s place, continued to achieve success. Sadly, Ballard passed away at the young age of 32.

The roster of Rejects includes everyone ever sacked from Fleetwood Mac (five in all, counting Lindsey Buckingham in 2018) and a few repeat offenders – Jason Everman, for example, got himself kicked out of both Nirvana and Soundgarden. Many but not all of the rejects offer cautionary tales of addiction. A depressing number are no longer with us.

The most difficult breakups often involve financial issues, but sometimes they are simply due to a mismatch or a clash of styles. Pavement, a band known for their jagged indie rock in the 1990s, initially had a 40-year-old drummer named Gary Young. He was a former hippie with a love for progressive rock and a habit of doing handstands on stage while the rest of the band, all in their 20s, looked down at their shoes. This combination ultimately proved to be unsustainable. However, it is usually not just one factor that leads to a breakup. In addition to being out of sync with the rest of the band, Young also struggled with alcoholism and often needed a backup percussionist to keep time. Since bands do not have HR departments, they tend to tolerate substance abuse more than they should. It is rare to be fired from a band like Guns N’ Roses for drug use (although Steven Adler managed it). As Collinson notes, it is usually the type of drugs that causes someone to be kicked out – using different ones than the rest of the band.

Although many of these stories have amusingly dark moments, none of them maintain a consistently humorous tone. When viewed as a whole, the array of ruined lives and crushed aspirations can become overwhelming, prompting Collinson to focus on the few rejected stories with a positive outcome: Everman, the former member of Nirvana, found an unexpected second career in the US special forces and is now perhaps the most content individual to come out of the music industry.

Based on this evidence, it appears that band disagreements are predominantly carried out by men (with the exception of Ballard). The list of female band members who have been dismissed includes two from Destiny’s Child, one from Sugababes, and Kim Shattuck, who was briefly a member of Pixies but was fired for stage diving during a tour. However, there is still a relatable aspect to these tales of being rejected. You don’t necessarily have to be in a band to understand the fear of being replaced.

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Source: theguardian.com