The Rise And Fall Of A British R'n'B Band

It wasn't really a shock to hear that Pete Gage had left the band. A matter of logic maybe. Although Pete seemed to have settled in with the rest of the band quite well. Logic in a way, that, since Lee's death, everything went downhill for a band that once packed the venues. One has to realise, that their gigs weren't sold out anymore, as they used to be. There was a time, when one had to buy admission tickets well in advance. Nowadays, one turns up at the door 5 minutes before the gig is due to start and you can have all the tickets you want. I've seen places packed beyond their capacity when Lee was the singer. When Pete Gage was the frontman, I've seen the same places so empty, it was a real shame.

That's not to say that Pete Gage wasn't accepted. He was (as good as possible under the circumstances). But then, this was a different band. Dr. Feelgood of late didn't have much in common with the Lee Brilleaux fronted combo. I remember reading about Lee's death and being shocked. The article went on, saying that the band would discontinue and my second thought was "thank god for small favours". At the time, I just couldn't imagine the band to soldier on. And I was proven right.

The second shock came when it was announced that the band had reunited with a new singer. What had I done wrong to deserve such a fate? I was a loyal fan from the very beginning of the band and they were treating me so shabbily! It was not right and Lee might have wished the band to continue, but somehow, I thought that this was wishful thinking on the part of the other members of Dr. Feelgood.

Throughout all of their line-up changes, the band kept their high profile (no doubt thanks to Lee Brilleaux) and I would be hard pressed to name one before the other (o.k. the Wilko Johnson line-up), but with Lee, the band lost its voice and face and energy. Simply put, the band stopped to exist and died together with Lee.

Now this Robert Kane (of whom I've never even heard) might be a good singer, but his biggest problem will be to replace Lee Brilleaux. You heard me folks, he's to replace Lee and not Pete Gage. The band will forever be associated with its first frontman and Robert Kane will make no difference to this. The band is taking the turn I expected it to take, when they reunited after Lee's death, that of a band playing the oldies circuit until one can have them in one of these dreadful oldie night shows together with the New Seekers and Middle Of The Road, churning out one uninspired track after the other.

Let's face it, the band is a thing from the past (albeit a glorious one). They should pack it in and call it a day. Hell, I'd go to every gig the various members of Dr. Feelgood would do with their (then) own bands. Just, please, spare us more of Dr. Feelgood on the downhill slide. That said, I realise, that I will see even the current line-up in concert and should they decide (which they have apparently done) to release new product, I'll be the first in line to buy the things. As a longtime fan of the greatest band ever, I have one private wish: Don't let us have another version of Dr. Feelgood. I'd hate it to see the band playing in some dump for 2 quid to a crowd of 7 people.

(Looking Forward To) A Gig?

Ready, willing and able I am not! If somebody would buy me a beer at the local pub on Saturday night October 2, 1999, I'd stick to the home turf. But, alas, I have decided to witness Dr. Feelgood at the AVO Blues Weekend in Zurich on the aforementioned date. No easy task for a longtime fan, you better believe it!

I'm actually as disinterested as the first time Dr. Feelgood turned up with their then new front man Pete Gage. I got used to that line-up (but was not overly enthusiastic about it). I will give them a fighting chance, for sure, but really, I don't expect miracles.

The venue is a medium sized place (the Schuetzenhaus Albisguetli is probably packed at a capacity of 2000 people). If anyone is asking me, the hall is much too big for Dr. Feelgood (they're the headliners). And there's only one support band (Zach Prather). How do I like the idea of being one of ten punters there? Doesn't appeal to me!

I might be wrong of course, but I very much doubt it. Dr. Feelgood gigs used to be events worth looking forward to. Nowadays these are events being dreaded. And I'm not talking about the casual fan here. It's the hardcore fan I'm worried about (the few that are left).

On October 3, 1999 John Mayall is playing near here. I got me a ticket to this gig as well and this is the one I'm really looking forward to. Years ago, I couldn't have imagined that I would one day prefer another gig over a Dr. Feelgood live experience. But such is the state of the union.

If you check back, you will find my first hand report about the Zurich gig of Dr. Feelgood on this website around October 3 or 4, 1999! Now, there's this friend of mine who's wanted long enough to go on a pubcrawl with me! Saturday October 2, 1999 sounds like a good day to me! If I can only find the telephone number!