January 14, 2000
The Tubes a little tamer but still wild
By Jim Purdy
The Tubes bring their hilarious, high-energy music to the Rialto Theatre Thursday night for a rock 'n' roll extravaganza
only they could dream up.
"Step right up, and don't be shy -- you will not believe your eyes."
The Tubes formed in Phoenix in the early '70s and nabbed a record deal in 1975 after moving to San Francisco. The
band has brightened the world with songs such as "Don't Touch Me There," "She's a Beauty," "Talk To Ya Later," and
"White Punks on Dope."
Lead singer Fee Waybill left The Tubes in 1985, but reunited with the group for a '94 tour, which was all about the music.
The musicians shelved the wild and ribald stage show they were notorious for in the '70s and '80s --- they didn't want to
disappoint fans or themselves by putting on less-than-totally-outrageous shows.
"We just played --- no costumes, no theatrics. We figured we could never top what we used to do, back when we were
stupid and spent every dime we made on the production," Waybill said in a recent phone interview.
The Tubes rarely made money touring in the '70s and '80s, which rankled concert promoters.
"We figured we needed the props, the pyro guy who set off the bombs, and we had more dancers than band members. It
was a hell of a lot of fun," Waybill said.
Theatrics seeped back into Waybill's blood when a Tubes fan asked him to play the lead role in a Michigan stage version
of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
"I said, `Man, I'd love to do that.' I've been acting all my life, but I'm always typecast. Directors expect me to be a David Lee
Roth guy with scarves and hair down to my ass. The only parts they'll give me are the rocker guys."
Waybill spent five weeks performing the role of Dr. Frank N Furter, the transsexual mad scientist from Transylvania.
"I had the time of my life, but I was worried about my sexuality. I shared a dressing room with four gay guys and after five
weeks I was as flaming as they were. Of course, I was wearing fishnet a lot."
Waybill said his "Rocky Horror� experience inspired him. "It really got me back into doing the theatrics with The Tubes."
The stage show is back, although tamer than in The Tubes' heyday when the dazzling light shows and pyrotechnics went
hand in hand with sexually suggestive props and topless or nude dancers.
"We were banned in a lot of cities, including Tucson. We used to have to post obscenity bonds, and city attorneys would
come down to see previews of the show. Instead of the girls being naked, we'd have them wear body stockings. Of
course, during the real show they wouldn't use the body stockings."
MTV's censors restricted the band, too, asking them to tone down the sexual imagery in the video for the 1983 hit "She's
Although MTV helped sell their songs, band members didn't much like the music video network.
"MTV made it easy for anyone who had no talent to make a video. Duran Duran couldn't string six words together and they
were on all the time. MTV changed everything and we didn't cater to them. I suppose we should have, but we didn't care
about the money -- we were artists."
The Tubes of the '70s and '80s often incurred the wrath of feminists and moralists with their songs and shows.
"A lot of people didn't understand that we were being sarcastic. They said we were glorifying drug use with `White Punks
on Dope,' but they didn't listen to the song."
Waybill has revived his infamous character Quay Lewd for the new show, which is slowly regaining the momentum of
past years. "We're moving in that direction again. Not to the same level of excess, but we're getting there."
Waybill said the dancers at the Rialto show most likely will be semi-clothed. "It's hard to get away with nudity these days.
Waybill and The Tubes lived in Tucson in 1969 before heading to San Francisco. "We'd go out to Sabino Canyon every
weekend and hang out in the pools," he said. They eagerly anticipate their return.
"The Rialto should be great for the concert. We can just run backstage and change costumes. It ruins the flow when I
have to say, `Excuse me, but I've got to go put on my bustier.'"
The Rialto show should be safer than The Tubes' 1979 concert when a curtain caught fire and The Temple of Music and
Art had to be evacuated.
January 21, 2000
With Waybill and the Tubes, it's a mad, mad, mad world
By Jim Purdy
Fee Waybill and the Tubes welcomed a raucous Rialto Theatre crowd into their weird vaudevillian rock world last night.
And the crowd couldn't have been more appreciative.
It takes a special kind of rocker to pull off the wide-ranging theatrics and costume changes Waybill undertook last night.
One song he's dancing onstage in Bermuda shorts, black socks and a white T-shirt; the next he's buck naked save for a
leather hood, chaps and a loincloth.
Waybill rode a bellowing Harley-Davison onstage for ``Don't Touch Me There.'' He dressed as a greaser, with slicked
hair, wife-beater T-shirt and black leather jacket, and sang a beautiful duet with the poodle-skirted background singer
seated behind him on the hog.
For The Tubes' 1983 hit ``She's a Beauty,'' of course, Waybill sported a carnival barker's straw hat and red-and-white-
Incredibly, guitarist Roger Steen, keyboardist/guitarist Gary Cambra, bassist Rick Anderson, keyboardist Dave Medd, and
drummers Prairie Prince and Trey Sabatelli jammed on vehemently whenever Waybill exited stage right - leaving the
audience writhing with the music as it anticipated Waybill's next fantastic appearance.
The audience participated in the fun, too. The Tubes extended the 1975 hit ``What Do You Want From Life'' into an
intriguing quiz show. Waybill pulled a fetching woman in the front row up on stage to play a question game for cash
``I'm going to ask you six questions and you could win as much as $20,'' Waybill said in his best game-show announcer
``Tanya'' skated through the first five questions - such as what's your name? what color are your eyes? - but lost the
jackpot when she incorrectly said that Ireland does indeed celebrate the Fourth of July.
It left people in the crowd disappointed. Where would Waybill have gone with the skit if she'd won?
At least The Tubes sent them home winners.