Tuesday

WILL THE LAST BABY BOOMER TELL CHARLIE BROWN TO STOP THE YAKETY YAK AND PUT SOME CALAMINE LOTION ON THAT POISON IVY

Ah the always changing contours of trademark law. Recently Ohio joined numerous other states in passing a law directed to oldies rock and roll performers. Apparently the state legislators, in their wisdom, felt the need to protect baby boomers from paying to see inauthentic aging overweight strangers rather authentic aging overweight strangers sing oldies that are more than 50 years old.

Only an original member of a rock and roll/r&b group such as the Coasters can use the name the Coasters in connection with their act. For those of few you who don't know, the Coasters were/are an African American rhythm and blues singing group that crossed over to a white rock and roll audience for 2 or 3 years in the late 50's. During those few years they had several whimsical rock and roll hits including Charlie Brown, Poison Ivy and Yakety Yak( Don't Talk Back).

I suspect that the number of folks- white or black- who could identify the original members of the Coasters- is a very small number. Nevertheless, only the "original" members of the group can use the name. And now for the law of unintended consequences to assert itself.
Firstly, even during the 50s and 60s there were numerous folks who performed as part of the 4 member Coasters. Is an artist from the early 60's who performed for many years an "original"member if he replaced someone who was with the band for a short time in the 50's? Second, if each so- called original member wants to use the Coasters name- can he gather up 3 other strangers and present the group as the Coasters? If you remember groups from this period you will also remember that they got much, if not all, their identity from the voice of the lead singer. If the man singing bass gets three others to perform but they sound nothing like the original group, is this the Coasters?

And in any event, if all I remember is the sound from the old 45's, can an the original group even begin to reproduce that sound 50 plus years later? Wouldn't I rather hear a group of entirely new members if they can most accurately reproduce the sound that makes me 16 again?

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