A supergroup is a musical group formed with members who are already successful as solo artists or as members of other successful groups. The term became popular in the late 1960s when members of already successful rock groups recorded albums together, after which they normally disbanded.[1][self-published source?] Charity supergroups, in which prominent musicians perform or record together in support of a particular cause, have been common since the 1980s. The term is most common in the context of rock and pop music, but it has occasionally been applied to other musical genres. For example, opera superstars the Three Tenors (José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti) have been called a supergroup.[2]

Cream has been credited as the first supergroup.

A supergroup sometimes forms as a side project for a single recording project or other ad hoc purposes, with no intention that the group will remain together afterwards. In other instances, the group may become the primary focus of the members' career.

History edit

Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner credited British rock band Cream, which came together in 1966, as the first supergroup.[3] Eric Clapton, formerly of rock band The Yardbirds and blues rock band John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers; Jack Bruce, formerly of jazz/rhythm and blues band the Graham Bond Organisation (GBO) and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers; and Ginger Baker, formerly of the GBO, formed the band in 1966, recorded four albums, and disbanded in 1968.[4][5] Guitarist Clapton and drummer Baker went on to form Blind Faith, another blues rock supergroup which recruited former the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic singer, keyboardist, and guitarist Steve Winwood and Family bassist Ric Grech. The group recorded one studio album before disbanding less than a year after formation.[6] Also in 1968 Jack Bruce joined the Tony Williams Lifetime, composed of bassist and vocalist Bruce, and three famous Miles Davis alumni: drummer Tony Williams, guitarist John McLaughlin, and keyboardist Khalid Yasin (né Larry Young).

The term may have come from the 1968 album Super Session with Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield, and Stephen Stills.[7] The coalition of Crosby, Stills & Nash (later Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) in 1969 is another early example, given the success of their prior bands (the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and the Hollies respectively).

A contemporary example of a supergroup is FFS, a collaboration between Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand and American art rock band Sparks.[8] After an eponymous debut studio album in 2015, the two groups then disbanded, returning to their own projects.

Criticism of the expression edit

The very definition of a 'supergroup' hinges on the term 'successful'. This is a subjective term, though metrics such as career earnings, records sold, number of commercial hit songs written and musician longevity can all be used to establish the objective success of a musical band and its individual members.[9][10][11][12]

Ultimately, the expression will likely remain subjective and a loosely defined term. Numerous mature supergroups who's members of came of age in the 1960s are relatively easy to define. Bands that have members with a shorter career record will likely be declared as supergroups either by their own promotors or fans regardless of their short duration and actual real world success.[13]

In 1974, a Time magazine article titled "Return of a Supergroup" quipped that the supergroup was a "potent but short-lived rock phenomenon" which was an "amalgam formed by the talented malcontents of other bands." The article acknowledged that groups such as Cream and Blind Faith "played enormous arenas and made megabucks, and sometimes megamusic", with the performances "fueled by dueling egos." However, while this "musical infighting built up the excitement ... it also made breakups inevitable."[14]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Rosenberg, Stuart (2009). Rock and Roll and the American Landscape. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4401-6458-3.[self-published source?]
  2. ^ McDannald, Alexander Hopkins, ed. (2000). The Americana Annual 2000. Grolier. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-7172-0231-7.
  3. ^ "Show 53 – String Man. : UNT Digital Library". Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 1969. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Cream Bio". Rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on 27 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Strange Brew," John McDermott, Guitar World Magazine, November 1997
  6. ^ Thompson, Dave (2005). Cream: The World's First Supergroup. Virgin. ISBN 1-85227-286-4.
  7. ^ Ward, Ed (2016). Michael Bloomfield: The Rise and Fall of an American Guitar Hero. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781613733318.
  8. ^ Goble, Corban (9 March 2015). "Franz Ferdinand and Sparks Form Supergroup FFS". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  9. ^ Greene, Andy (10 August 2016). "Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Supergroups". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  10. ^ Horsburgh, Amber (8 November 2021). "23 Metrics that matter". Medium. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  11. ^ Jopling, Keith (23 December 2020). "What measures an artist's success in today's music industry?". MIDiA Research. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  12. ^ Lester, Paul (25 June 2008). "Why supergroups are rarely more than the sum of their parts". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  13. ^ "10 forgotten modern supergroups". faroutmagazine.co.uk. 8 October 2023. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  14. ^ "Music: Return of a Supergroup". Time. 5 August 1974. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010.