It's funny -- it doesn't matter whether it's the Beatles, an alternative rock group, a hip hop group, or whatever. A band can't survive for longer than maybe a decade (a significant portion of that unhappy) unless it has a defined leadership structure with the buy-in of all the members. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart is a movie about Jay Bennett not understanding that dynamic; Let it Be (the movie) is about what happens when two people think they're the leader. And RZA, who may at first seem like kind of a jerk about it, is really talking about the same thing. I obviously don't know what really goes on inside the Rolling Stones or U2, but it seems like they've survived in part because either from the beginning or at some later point everybody began to understand and accept his role. RZA is a bit blunt about it, but if he wants to lead and Method Man wants a vote, it just isn't going to work.
Think about what it did to Stillwater.I'd add the E Street Band to that list; everyone understands who the boss/Boss is, and they show up when he's ready, and they're otherwise free to roam the earth as they see fit.
I actually mentioned Almost Famous and then deleted it. I read a review of I Am Trying to Break Your Heart that described the fight between passive-aggressive Bennett and impassive-aggressive Tweedy that ends with Tweedy throwing up in the lavatory as "every band fight ever," and I thought about that a few weeks ago when I caught the "I'm the front man/you're the mysterious guitarist" argument from AF on TV. I didn't mention solo artists, because it's not that hard to figure out who the boss is when the boss's name is on the CD spine. Plus there are a million examples. But it's interesting that the one band that lasted a long time without a clear executive was the Beastie Boys, who had a formal governance structure and defined roles, but who also (very unusually) seemed to operate for a long time by consensus on big issues. Maybe that's just an outsider's inaccurate perspective.
R.E.M. also never really has seemed to have clear "roles," and they stuck around for a good long time. And I've not seen it, but I understand that Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is another quite good example of the leadership struggle within a band.
I am not an REM fan, but my understanding was always that Michael Stipe was the unquestioned CEO of that band. Am I wrong? As for Metallica, Hetfield is definitely the alpha, and my sense (including from SKoM) is that the periods when the band seems on the verge of imploding coincide with the periods when Ulrich thinks he should have an equal say. The Hetfield-Ulrich dynamic is pretty similar to the Tweedy-Bennett dynamic, except that when it gets bad, Tweedy fires people and Hetfield goes deep off the grid. Actually, Hetfield fires bass players too. He just doesn't fire Ulrich.
It's a little unclear, since R.E.M. wasn't the most talkative band, but it sounds like they were pretty collaborative, with part of the reason for their longevity being that, coupled with their wholesale outsourcing of business stuff to an outside manager, who was kind of a COO figure while the band took care of the creative side.
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