When talent and consideration are unevenly dispersed in a musical group, it can often lead to injustice and frustration. Here's a short review of the most misunderstood and underappreciated musicians within their own groups.
Dennis Wilson from The Beach Boys
Of the five Californian boys who sang the virtues of surfing, Dennis Wilson was the only one to actually practice the sport. Despite being the source of the band’s sex appeal, Dennis blended into the background and taking on and accepting the role of off-and-on musician. Not one to make waves, a shame for a surfer, he reportedly didn't even a flinch when his bandmates invited other musicians to the studio to play his drum parts. And yet, the reserved drummer hid an unsuspected talent as acomposer. "One day, I was sitting in the stands during a balance," says touring musician and friend Daryl Dragon, "and I heard a beautiful piano melody. I looked up and saw Dennis. It shocked me, I didn't know he was also a pianist." Unfortunately, singer Mike Love extinguished the drummer's creative pretensions in an effort to maintain his own influence. Guitarist Al Jardine, later attempted to make amends in the name of the Beach Boys when he was quoted saying: "He was not underrated in the world of rock. He was in his own group …"
Mick Taylor from The Rolling Stones
In 1969, the young guitarist Mick Taylor, twenty years old at the time, carried the heavy burden of replacing Brian Jones after his tragic death. But he did so brilliantly, helping to reinforce the blues roots of the Stones on Exile on Main Street and Sticky Fingers. Sadly, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were not ready to share their hold on the group. They fought to retain song-writer's credits from the young musician of songs that he helped to co-write, including Moonlight Mile or Tops. The case went all the way to court, ending in settlement, but the old friends did not reconcile until 1981.
Rick Wright from Pink Floyd
Blocked by David Gilmour and Roger Waters' egos and creative castrating forces, keyboardist Rick Wright gave Pink Floyd the benefit of his remarkable melodic sensitivity and intelligent placement in the band's musical setting. Discreet to the point of being transparent, contrary to his magnificent showmanship of his light interventions on his instrument on The Great Gig in the Sky or Us and Them or singing on Times, Echoes or Astronomy Domine, he often had his feet stomped on. On "Animals" he is not even credited. Worse, the relationship with Waters festered so much that it noticeably made a return during the recording of "The Wall." The irony in it all was that Wright was reinstated for concerts as an employee! But there is some justice in all of this, because the tour, gigantic in all respects, was a financial loss and Wright may have been the only one to walk away smiling.
Glen Matlock from Sex Pistols
The same disappointment struck Glen Matlock, the bassist of the Sex Pistols. Founding member of the punk band, he was initially the only one who knew how to compose and their manager, Malcolm McLaren, relied heavily on him to get something out of this group of rebels. When Johnny Rotten joined as the forefront of the group as lead-singer, Matlock's influence decreased, climaxing in his removal from the group. Certain members of the group proposed to keep Matlock around, but as a session musician. Taking it as an affront, Matlock unabashedly refused and was replaced by Sid Vicious, chosen for his attitude more than for his musical talent.
George Harrison from The Beatles
Nicknamed "The Quiet One," George Harrison, the youngest of the band, was no less talented than his friends, far from it. The difficulty for the Fab Four proved in making space for one more with an already creative duo formed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Harrison only managed to slip in his compositions on certain albums despite the display of immense talent and some becoming hit classics: Something, Here Comes the Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The result of this forced invisibility became a terrible frustration that culminated with the end of the Beatles during the release of a... triple album! Harrison put it this way, albeit less poetic, "I felt like a man constipated for years and suddenly had diarrhoea." There is a bit of justice in his story: Harrison ultimately won against the other members' as his album All Things Must Pass became number one in many countries, competing alongside albums by his former bandmates.