Whatever happened to “Show Business?” Today’s female music stars seem to have a lot of trouble with their costumes. One of the most popular stars has her “costume malfunctions” where one of her breasts is briefly exposed to titillate (no pun intended) everyone. These costumes didn’t come from Target or the Dollar Store so it’s hard to believe that these are accidents, but even if they were, is that the best they can do? There is another female singer who wears tight leather skirts that are mid-thigh and she, inadvertently I’m sure, forgets to wear her panties so those of you who pay for front row seats get your money’s worth and an eyeful. As far as male performers go, they can go as far as they desire in my opinion. The “Art” of show business in music died when the groups like the Four Tops and solo performers like Elvis and Jimi Hendrix died.
Back in the era of the big bands, Gene Krupa was the best drummer in the business, and is still consider one of the best of all time. He used to throw his drumsticks up in the air and catch them, much like a majorette, and never missed a beat on the drums. When he worked with the Benny Goodman band there was one song (I’ve forgotten which one) that when it came time for Krupa’s solo, the entire band would get up and leave the stage while Krupa was wailing away on the drums. This, of course, startled the audience. After about five minutes, with Krupa still beating the hell out of the drums, the band came back on stage, took their seats, picked up their instruments and struck a chord to end the performance. Krupa always got a standing ovation for his showmanship.
Louie “Satchmo” Armstrong, with his gravelly voice, always had a handkerchief around the valves of his trumpet. It was his “signature” and occasionally he would take the handkerchief off and wipe the sweat from his brow, because Louie worked hard to put on a “show.”
Lionel Hampton, a marvelously talented vibraphone virtuoso was known for talking to himself when he played. If you listen to some of his recordings you can hear him saying “Un huh” and “Ummmm” as he worked that vibraphone from one end to the other. Occasionally, he would switch to piano and he was just as talented on that instrument. He had a wonderful sense of timing and was one of the greatest jazz musicians ever. I’ve often wondered what he would have done with the electronic keyboards of today with all their special effects.
Today’s performers rely more on pyrotechnics than showmanship. Fire and smoke and strobe lights and fog machines take the place of personal performances. Of course, the audiences of today demand less. When your audience is busy texting while one is on stage performing, it would tend to dampen much enthusiasm from the musicians. I think it is the iPhone that killed Show Business.