The Tubes Biography

Never short of personnel, the Tubes comprised Rick Anderson (1 August 1947, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; bass), Michael Cotten (b. 25 January 1950, Kansas City, Missouri, USA; keyboards), Prairie Prince (b. 7 May 1950, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; drums), Bill ‘Sputnick’ Spooner (b. William Edmund Spooner, 16 April 1949, Phoenix, Arizona, USA; guitar), Roger Steen (b. 13 November 1949, Pipestone, Minnesota, USA; guitar), Re Styles (b. 3 March 1950, USA; dancer, vocals), Fee Waybill (b. John Waldo, 17 September 1950, Omaha, Nebraska, USA; vocals) and Vince Welnick (b. 21 February 1951, Phoenix, Arizona, USA, d. 2 June 2006, USA; keyboards).

Founder members Anderson, Spooner and Welnick got together in Phoenix in the late 60s as the Beans, while across town Prince and Steen played with the Red, White And Blues. The five men came together in 1972 as the Radar Men From Uranus, before changing their name to the Tubes with the addition of Waybill and Cotten. Fronted by Waybill, the band’s stage act became wilder and crazier, a manic mixture of loud rock music, Spooner’s satirical lyrics, outrageous theatrics and burlesque. The videos were risqué, with scantily clad women, ‘drugged-out superstar’ Quay Lewd and ‘crippled Nazi’ Dr. Strangekiss.

The band signed to A&M Records in 1975. Their debut album, produced by Al Kooper, included the bombastic ‘White Punks On Dope’ which provided the band with a UK Top 30 hit two years later at the height of punk. The band’s alleged sexism was tempered somewhat during the late 70s as they toned down their live shows in a misguided attempt to focus on their musical abilities. Remote Control, the band’s fourth album, was produced by Todd Rundgren, after which they left A&M for Capitol Records. The Completion Backward Principle was regarded as a compromise, despite its AOR potency with flashes of humour. The band’s satirical thrust declined owing to over-familiarity but prior to their demise, they enjoyed their greatest commercial success with the US Top 10 hit ‘She’s A Beauty’ in 1983. Both Spooner and Waybill released solo material, while the latter also established himself as a songwriter and actor. Waybill, Steen, Anderson and Prince re-formed the band in 1993, recording a new album and carrying the Tubes name into the new millennium.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.