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music unplayed: talking with Peter Jenner about bands that die before their time

On March 5th covering , ,

I was fortunate to talk with Peter Jenner a few weeks ago. The former manager of Pink Floyd, the Clash and others as well as current manager for Billy Bragg, Jenner is vitally engaged in issues of digital music policy and payment systems.

Photo stolen from http://futureofmusiccoalition.blogspot.com
photo: futureofmusic.blogspot.com

But since I don’t know anything about all that, I got to ask him something I’d been wondering about for a long time.

When a revered band breaks up, the fans mourn and protest, and hopes for reunion dog the band members until enough of them die off.
But maybe the band has run its course and it’s time to end before it becomes its own tribute act. There are times when it is better to declare victory and go home, put out the box set, shed a tear and go on to new projects. It can be liberating and dignified.

I asked Peter about the Clash and the Floyd: had these collaborations completed their respective creative arcs? Were the personality conflicts just a messy way of escaping from a band that had outlived itself? He gave a very considered and thoughtful answer which I can only paraphrase as “no”. In his opinion, the Clash had more music to make when they came apart, and the collaboration between Roger Waters and David Gilmour could supply one more great elegiac album (though he was definite in saying that he doesn’t think this has the remotest chance of happening).

This is what bothers me. Irrespective of whether you regret that there isn’t more work by these bands — it is a damn shame that so many creative partnerships are destroyed by the forces inside and outside them. This is a loss for the whole culture.

What groups do you think died before they were creatively done?

2 Responses

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Mar 6 at 19:05


I guess it would really depend on what one considers “done.” There are many groups that could have done a lot more commercially successful material (The Beatles come to mind) and there are several who do. But commercial success and churning out a steady stream of formulaic pop doesn’t quite equate to “creative output.” So, this is kind of a tricky question to address.

Are there bands that I wish were still together and putting out the wonderfully creative music that made me fall in love with them in the first place? Yes. Of course there are. Unfortunately, there are just many that actually ARE still together but have lost that originality and energy somewhere along the way. Because of that, as sad as it makes me when a good band dies, I’d much rather see it come to an end at the top of their game than to witness a slow, painful descent into depths of who-really-care-anymore that commercial success so often leads to.

Mike Jolkovski

Mar 7 at 14:58


Leisl, This is well put. This has inspired a follow-up post. Thanks.

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