Right now there’s probably a bar or club where a cover band is performing well-known songs originally made famous by other musicians. These stories are not about cover bands—they’re about people who tried to convince the world that they actually were those famous musicians…and they nearly got away with it.
Fake Fleetwood Mac
Before Fleetwood Mac became soft-rock superstars in the late 1970s with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham co-fronting the band, the group originated in the late 1960s as a British blues-rock group. That incarnation fizzled out in 1973, but the band’s manager, Clifford Davis, wasn’t ready to let go of his cash cow. Claiming to own the rights to the name “Fleetwood Mac,” he recruited the members of an obscure British rock band called Legs and sent them out on the road under the name…Fleetwood Mac. The musicians agreed to it because Davis told them that actual Mac member Mick Fleetwood would join them on the road later on, and that another actual member of the real band, John McVie, had just up and quit. (At least, that’s what the fake Fleetwood Mac told angry fans who heckled them at their first tour date.) The tour fell apart not too long after, although during the legal proceedings that inevitably followed the gambit, it was revealed that Davis really did have the rights to “Fleetwood Mac” and while what he’d done may have been ethically ambiguous, it was within his legal rights to do so.
Fake Baha Men
You may not immediately recognize the name “Baha Men” but you definitely know their song. The Bahamas-based group had a monster hit in 2000 with “Who Let the Dogs Out?”—the party jam has been played over the P.A. at just about every sporting event since. Demand for the Baha Men to play live at games, on TV, and in concert was thus very high at the turn of the new millennium, combined with the fact that the group itself was still quite obscure, meant conditions were ripe for imitation. A group of musicians successfully played a series of paid gigs in and around England in 2000 and 2001, claiming to be the Baha Men. The actual Baha Men still have to separate fact from fiction. Numerous sources actually list the group’s country of origin as England (the fake band was from England; Baha Men are from the Bahamas—that’s where the “Baha” comes from). “We’re not affiliated with them in any way,” Baha Man Isaiah Taylor told Vice in 2015.
In 1967, the dreamy, spacy English pop-rock group the Zombies released their album Odessey and Oracle. While it would eventually be regarded as one of the greatest albums ever made (Rolling Stone ranked it at #80 on its all-time list), it was a little too weird and experimental for contemporary ears, and it flopped. As a result, the Zombies broke up. Oddly, two years later, the band’s record label released one of the songs, “Time of the Season,” in the U.S.…which zoomed to #3 on the pop chart. There was suddenly a market for a Zombies tour, so a company called Delta Promotions sent out on the road two different groups calling themselves the Zombies. Since nobody knew what the actual members of some random British rock group looked like, they got away with it. One version of the Zombies featured two Texas-based musicians, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard. Those guys later went on to form two-thirds of ZZ Top.