One Direction And Zayn Malik: Now What?

With fan hysterics having subsided, Nick Jonas and industry experts help make sense of the possible future courses for One Direction and Zayn Malik

GRAMMYs/Feb 2, 2016 - 12:55 am

"This was the first time [a band] deciding to work separately became worldwide news, treated almost as a death," wrote the UK's The Guardian. No, this wasn't a reference to Zayn Malik's recent departure from One Direction. The split to which the paper was referring goes back to 1970, when Paul McCartney announced the end of the Beatles.

It was a breakup so significant that CBS News, reporting from the Beatles' Apple headquarters at the time, called the news "so momentous that historians may one day view it as a landmark in the decline of the British Empire."

Right now it's hard for Directioners in mourning over Malik's surprise exit from One Direction to believe it, but they are not alone. Whether it was the Beatles in 1970, Diana Ross departing from the Supremes that same year, the end of the Eagles' long run in 1980, Lionel Richie jumping ship from the Commodores in 1982, Duran Duran losing Roger Taylor in 1985, Lindsey Buckingham leaving Fleetwood Mac in 1987, the Spice Girls saying goodbye to Geri Halliwell in 1998, 'N Sync taking a "temporary hiatus" in 2002, the Backstreet Boys suffering through Kevin Richardson leaving in 2006, the disbanding of Destiny's Child in 2006, the Jonas Brothers' split in 2013, or One Direction and Malik severing ties a month ago, every generation of ardent fans has felt the pain of an era coming to a close. (And obviously, the Beatles, with their standing as arguably the most influential band of all time, are a unique entity, as dictated by the fact they are seemingly the only group that saw all four members go on to impactful solo careers.)

Poll: Which GRAMMY winner who left a popular group went on to have the greatest impact as a solo artist?

At the very least, 1D fans can take some solace in knowing that other fans have experienced similar anguish. Breakups have affected fans of pop, rock, dance/electronic music — evidenced by Swedish House Mafia's disbanding in 2012 — and even hip-hop. After West Coast hip-hop pioneers N.W.A. split in the early '90s, the group's former members released a series of "diss" tracks aimed at each other, prompting fans to pick sides. Bands who don't last are far more common than rarities such as Aerosmith, ZZ Top or U2, all of whom have been together for decades with original members. Such 30-year and 40-year relationships within a band are as uncommon as the 50-year storybook Hollywood marriage between Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Yes, as much as Directioners — who have tweeted about the loss, lamented how they miss Malik in cute pictures, threatened to run away from home, and shared their collective pain via Vine — may not believe it, one member of a successful band wanting to go it alone is as much a part of music as money, fame, fan adulation, and ego.

What are the exact reasons that led to Malik leaving One Direction? And what career direction will he plot next? Only he knows for sure. But when it comes to artists striking out on their own, longtime industry experts have seen it all. Once described in Vanity Fair as the "best music manager in the business," Peter Katsis has managed the careers of artists such as the Backstreet Boys, Jane's Addiction and Smashing Pumpkins. He cites a number of reasons why a member might leave a successful group.

"I've seen it happen for health reasons, I've seen it happen for changes in musical direction, I've seen it for just the fact people don't like each other anymore," says Katsis.

The transition to solo artist can be a tricky one, with changes coming in unexpected areas. The Jonas Brothers, who rode a tidal wave of popularity with two No. 1 albums and a Best New Artist GRAMMY nomination for 2008, came to an abrupt end in October 2013. The brotherly trio cancelled a much-anticipated tour days before it was scheduled to start, citing a "deep rift within the band" over "creative differences." Nick Jonas, who recently has resurfaced with his Top 10 self-titled solo album and the Top 10 hit "Jealous," says there are pros and cons to leaving a group behind.

"I think just getting used to travelling on my own and spending more time on my own, it's something I've had to get adjusted to," says Jonas. "I think the biggest pros have been being able to create music that I love and really pushing myself as an artist to continue to grow and build a new fan base with the old fan base that I had. And all in all, it's been incredibly amazing these last couple of months."

After more than a decade of success, including platinum albums and two GRAMMYs, Seattle grunge architects Soundgarden called it quits in 1997. Chris Cornell, the group's frontman, stepped into the spotlight two years later with his solo debut, Euphoria Morning. In the midst of a creative groove, Cornell spoke with me in 2007 during the time of the release of his second solo album, Carry On.

"I've gotten so many ideas as a solo artist, and I also think at this point in my life I'm a person that probably shouldn't be in a band," said Cornell. "Someone that writes songs as much as me and has the energy and focus in terms of songwriting and performing is probably someone who's more akin to a solo artist than someone who should be in a band."

Proving that sentiments can change with the passage of time, Cornell ultimately reunited with his Soundgarden bandmates in 2010. And like other artists in this day and age, he enjoys the best of both career worlds. Cornell has recently toured and released albums with Soundgarden, but he also just revealed he finished recording his fourth solo album.

Idiosyncratic guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, who similarly does double duty as a solo artist and member of GRAMMY-winning collective Fleetwood Mac, likens the dichotomy to the film world. "It's like having the large movie and the small movie," Buckingham told me in 2011. "It's the independent movie that's going to help you grow and take chances."

Fleetwood Mac recently wrapped a successful U.S. concert trek following the return of longtime member Christine McVie. But the group's classic Rumours-era lineup, which tried to go on without Buckingham in 1987 after he left due to feeling stifled creatively, and then later without Stevie Nicks, is proof of what can happen to a band behind when a key member departs. The band's first album sans Buckingham, 1990's Behind The Mask, went gold in the States, a far cry from previous efforts. And without both Buckingham and Nicks, 1995's Time didn't even dent the Billboard 200, a dismal performance for a band that has sold more than 100 million albums.

One of the more recent bands to experience soap-opera-style drama is Blink-182. In January, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker revealed that Tom DeLonge had "indefinitely" left the group. DeLonge responded via Facebook, stating he "never quit the band." While the issue has yet to reach a formal resolution, Barker and Hoppus recruited Alkaline Trio guitarist Matt Skiba to fill DeLonge's shoes. With Skiba, the trio headlined the Musink Tattoo Convention and Music Festival in Southern California in March. Meanwhile, since his indefinite departure from Blink-182, DeLonge has debuted a new video from his new solo album, To The Stars.

Sometimes the sting of a band relationship gone wrong is prone to leave a lingering bitter aftertaste. Ringo Starr recently gave a telling interview to The Times, telling the paper he was "drunk" for much of the '70s and '80s following the demise of the Beatles.

"I was mad," said Starr. "For 20 years. I had breaks in between of not being."

Of course, Starr went on to a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-worthy solo career and, given his iconic status as one of the four Beatles, has remained an appealing live draw. Very few acts are in that stratosphere, however, so being able to balance a career duality — a la Buckingham and Cornell — is important. Artists who strike out on their own and make it are few and far between. The likes of Richie, Ross and Justin Timberlake are more the exception than the rule.

AEG Live's Brian Murphy is a veteran in the concert promotion game, having previously run leading Los Angeles concert promoter Avalon Attractions for decades. He recalls working with the Eagles' Don Henley in the '80s on a solo tour. At that point, Henley was a commercial and critical success as a solo artist, having won a GRAMMY for the smash "The Boys Of Summer." But as a touring act, Henley the solo artist was different than a touring behemoth like the Eagles, according to Murphy.

"His … solo records [Building The Perfect Beast and The End Of The Innocence] were hugely successful, but the business that he did when he went out on the road, I think we aimed too high and I don't mean that just from the perspective of an agent or a manager, I think the promoters as well," Murphy says. "We all bought into [the notion that] he should still be able to do arenas. But as it turned out it was like [8,000] or 9,000 seats. The Eagles were the Eagles and I think therein lies a big significant difference."

Spotify Playlist: Band Breakups Are Hard To Do

These days, platinum acts can yield big revenue on the touring front. And One Direction are a touring juggernaut. The group is coming off a huge year in 2014, when they grossed $282.2 million in touring revenue to place No. 1 on Pollstar's worldwide tours list. The Malik-less One Direction lineup has upcoming world tour dates scheduled from June through October. While the long-term effect of the group's lineup change on touring is hard to predict, business looks to stay robust in the near future, evidenced by a six-night run at The O2 in London in September.

A member leaving behind a career with a successful touring act creates an interesting conundrum in this current musical climate as Murphy explains.

"There's a very big difference today in touring artists than there was when I got into the business and the way I grew up in the business," says Murphy. "At one time bands toured to sell record product and with record product came the royalties from publishing. The least important economic factor was the concert ticket."

Given that artists such as Henley and Buckingham, as big as the bands they were in, weren't able to translate their massive stature into arena shows in their own right, the likelihood that Malik will maintain headliner status as a solo act isn't favorable.

"I think history has taught us that if Mick Jagger cannot make a solo career a success then it's pretty daunting," singer/actor/radio personality Michael Des Barres says. "This does not mean it can't be done, but it does seem hard. It's like a TV star trying to be a movie star."

From a business perspective, today's artists who try and strike out on their own are leaving behind a potentially huge part of their revenue. Shirley Halperin, news director at Billboard, agrees. "It is more of a gamble today," she says.

In the case of One Direction, both fans and industry professionals will have to bet on which member might be able to pull off a successful solo career because the history of boy bands indicates it's very likely that only one member, if any, will go on to be a solo star.

"There can only be one, that never changes," says Halperin. "You had Bobby Brown from New Edition, Justin Timberlake [from 'N Sync], who will it be from One Direction? Who will have the best chance for solo success? There can't be more than one so you have to bet on the right one. You have to hope you pick the Robbie Williams or Justin Timberlake that can cross over."

Having worked with countless acts over the years, Katsis knows a great deal about guiding artists and he has advice that applies to an artist thinking of going solo, returning back to the Beatles to make his point.

"The first guy that really stepped out was McCartney and, as with anything else our industry is driven by, the songs are really what made it possible for him," says Katsis. "When he came up with melodies like 'Maybe I'm Amazed,' it really set a tone that the music was just so good. And I think that's always going to be the case. That's the key: If you're really gonna do it you have to come through with the goods. If there's only one good song on that album you'll never have a shot."

Though Malik has yet to formally release new music, a demo of his supposed first solo song was leaked via SoundCloud less than a week following his departure from the band. But with a source close to Malik telling the Daily Mail the song was in fact an old demo, 1D fans have been left to hang in the balance, speculating as to Malik's next career move.

Speaking from recent experience, Jonas knows such a solo career move is a difficult one, but it can be successfully accomplished with hard work. "I think that there are always obstacles to overcome when transitioning from being in a group to going solo and it's just about staying dedicated and motivated to continue to grow and push your audience to come with you," he says.

It's not to say that Malik would not be able to succeed on his own, only that history says it's going to be an uphill battle. What most experts do agree on is that One Direction should be fine. The Backstreet Boys remained a successful touring act and scored two Top 10 albums following Richardson's departure. Duran Duran also continued to thrive as a touring act and had huge success with their 1993 eponymous album featuring the hits "Come Undone" and "Ordinary World" after Taylor left.

However, as successful as both acts remained, they never matched the frenzy of their respective complete original lineups. The Backstreet Boys' full-fledged reunion with Richardson in 2011 brought them back to arenas and when all five members of Duran Duran reunited in 2005 for an intimate show at the Roxy, I covered the gig for Rolling Stone and watched in disbelief as someone offered me $1,000 for my ticket (which was turned down).

In more proof of the power of reunion nostalgia, the Eagles settled their differences to reunite in 1994 for arguably the biggest reunion in music history, marked by a monumental three-year world tour and the GRAMMY-nominated Hell Freezes Over reunion album. In 2013 'N Sync reunited for a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards and, earlier this year, Destiny's Child reunited for a one-off live performance — both situations leaving millennials to salivate about possible reunions down the road. And a recently rumored Spice Girls reunion recently had their fans saying "zig-a-zig-ah."

But for now, One Direction and Malik are going their separate ways. According to a band statement, One Direction are "looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour." Making his first public appearance since the breakup on April 17 at the Asian Awards in London, a newly shorn Malik took the stage to pay tribute to his One Direction bandmates. "I'd also like to take this moment to thank four of the best guys that I ever met whilst being in the band and doing all the amazing things that I did. Some of the things that we did will stay with me for the rest of my life," he said.

While there is little doubt that 1D can continue to sell out arenas or even stadiums, and though the future is unknown for Malik, fans will likely long for the magic of the original five members being together. Unless they are that very rare case that, as Katsis points out, "is just over it," a reunion could be in the cards at some point. In other words, history offers some hope that hell could one day freeze over for One Direction and their devout Directioners.

(Steve Baltin has written about music for Rolling StoneLos Angeles TimesMojoChicago Tribune, AOL, LA Weekly, Philadelphia WeeklyThe Hollywood Reporter, and dozens more publications.)


We Will, We Will Shock You

A collection of shocking album covers that might make you look twice (or look away)

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

As the baby boomer-fueled market moved from singles to albums in the '60s and '70s, artists began using LP covers as a means to create bold visual statements, occasionally using nudity, sexual imagery or striking graphics. Sometimes the purpose was to create art for the ages, while other times it was to push boundaries. Either way, the most controversial covers were often banned or altered by record companies for fear of public or retail outrage. One of the most famous cases of censorship was one of the first — the Beatles' "butcher" cover for 1966's Yesterday And Today, which featured a grinning Fab Four covered in raw meat and plastic baby doll parts. (The cover was reportedly an anti-Vietnam war commentary by the group.) Capitol Records issued a new cover with a less-shocking photo after the original caused an uproar. In the '70s and '80s, German rock band the Scorpions made a series of albums with disturbing sexual imagery, including 1976's notorious (and quickly banned) Virgin Killer featuring a nude young girl. The cover was replaced by a conventional band portrait.

While shocking album covers do still exist, they have occurred with less frequency since the '90s as CDs, which de-emphasized cover art, replaced LPs and pop culture grew more permissive. Now, as album sales shift from physical to digital, the age of shock album covers is starting to seem like a bygone era. Here are a few other album covers that shocked us, and might shock you too.

Moby Grape
Moby Grape, 1967
Shocking fact: Drummer Don Stevenson's (center) middle finger was airbrushed out on later pressings.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Electric Ladyland, 1968
Shocking fact: The British release featured a bevy of naked women on the cover.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, 1968
Shocking fact: Distributors covered the explicit content — nude front and back portraits of Lennon and Ono — in brown paper. Even today, full frontal nudity remains objectionable for many.

The Rolling Stones
Beggars Banquet, 1968
Shocking fact: The band's U.S. and UK labels originally rejected the cover featuring a toilet and graffiti-covered bathroom wall. Today, the cover seems remarkably tame.

Blind Faith
Blind Faith, 1969
Shocking fact: The original cover featured a young nude girl holding a small plane. The replacement cover featured a shot of the band.

David Bowie
Diamond Dogs, 1974
Shocking fact: The cover illustration of Bowie as a (noticeably male) dog had the offending organs edited out.

Ohio Players
Honey, 1975
Shocking fact: The sexually suggestive cover features Playboy Playmate Ester Cordet swallowing honey from a spoon.

Jane's Addiction
Nothing's Shocking, 1988
Shocking fact: An ironic twist to the list. This artsy cover depicts a realistic sculpture, created by frontman Perry Farrell, featuring nude conjoined twins with hair afire.

Millie Jackson
Back To The S*!, 1989
Shocking fact: The take-no-prisoners soul singer poses on a toilet seat with one shoe off while grimacing. Often called the worst album cover ever.

The Black Crowes
Amorica, 1994
Shocking fact: Original cover featured an American flag-printed G-string showing pubic hair.


John Tavener Dies
John Tavener

Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images


John Tavener Dies

GRAMMY-winning classical composer dies at 69

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

GRAMMY-winning classical composer John Tavener died Nov. 12 at his home in England. A cause of death was not revealed. He was 69. A native of London, Tavener was trained in piano and organ as a young adult, and subsequently studied composition at London's Royal Academy of Music. He burst onto the public scene with the help of the Beatles, who released his album The Whale via their Apple Records label in 1970. The following year Apple released Tavener's Celtic Requiem. Much of Tavener's later work was inspired by his spiritual journey, including his conversion to Orthodox Christianity and his collaboration with Mother Thekla, a Russian immigrant and nun with whom he composed "Song For Athene" in 1993, which was performed at Princess Diana's funeral in 1997. Tavener earned the lone GRAMMY of his career in 2002 for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for Tavener: Lamentations And Praises, a collaboration with San Francisco-based all-male classical vocal ensemble Chanticleer. "John Tavener was a prolific and eclectic composer whose work reached beyond the bounds of classical music," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "He strived to create compositions that were noble, magnificent and inspirational."

Paul McCartney At Frank Erwin Center
Paul McCartney performs at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas

Photo: Rick Kern/Getty Images


Paul McCartney At Frank Erwin Center

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Lynne Margolis
Austin, Texas

Though Paul McCartney may be 70 in chronological years, we need a new unit of measurement to describe the McCartneys, Mick Jaggers, John Fogertys, and Bruce Springsteens of the world. We should call it rock and roll years, because rock is certainly what's keeping these GRAMMY winners (and women such as Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson) vital and exciting to watch well into their so-called "golden years."

On May 22 at Austin's Frank Erwin Center, McCartney reaffirmed this truth: Rock and roll keeps you young. In two hours and 45 minutes, he and his band delivered 36 hits and favorites from his Beatles, Wings and solo eras (38 if we count the Abbey Road medley of "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight" and "The End"; he also slipped in a bit of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady."

With his usual good humor, McCartney told stories, dropped a few clever punch lines and even gave the occasional hip shake and soft-shoe shuffle — though he wore Cuban-heeled Beatle boots below his black jeans and cropped pink jacket. When he removed the jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves, he joked, "That's the big wardrobe change of the evening."

But the sold-out audience of more than 12,000 didn't come to see fancy outfits and elaborate sets; they came to hear the biggest living icon in pop music history, and perhaps revisit fond moments of their own histories through the musical touchstones he created. The savvy McCartney, in his first-ever performance in Austin, didn't disappoint.

For the most part, he faithfully reproduced beloved versions of hits such as "Eight Days A Week," "Paperback Writer," "Lady Madonna," "Another Day," "Band On The Run," and "Live And Let Die," which brought one big special effects moment during the show — jets of fire and showers of sparks so intense the heat could be felt 15 rows back on the floor.

Nostalgic Beatles montages, artful geometrics and audience shots popped up on massive screens behind him as he switched between various guitars, his Hofner bass and two pianos. He performed several Beatles songs he'd never done live, including "All Together Now," "Lovely Rita," "Your Mother Should Know," and "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"

Only "My Valentine" was performed from his 2012 GRAMMY-winning album Kisses On The Bottom. But with a catalog that includes some of the most beautiful songs ever written, he knew what mattered: gems such as "And I Love Her," "Blackbird," "All My Loving," and "Maybe I'm Amazed," the latter written for his late wife, Linda. Flubbing the opening, McCartney joked, "It proves we're live!" 

Perhaps the most touching moments were his homages to fellow Beatles — the ukulele-plucked "Something" (written by George Harrison) and a song he wrote for John Lennon, "Here Today." Noting he wished he had conveyed its sentiment to Lennon before it was too late, he added afterward, "The next time you want to say something to someone, just say it." He was answered by a shout of, "I love you, Paul!"

Even if he'd only performed the songs delivered in his second encore — a still-astonishingly beautiful "Yesterday," a rocking "Helter Skelter" and the timeless Abbey Road medley — he still would have earned that love.

To catch Paul McCartney in a city near you, click here for tour dates.

Set List:

"Eight Days A Week"
"Junior's Farm"
"All My Loving"
"Listen To What The Man Said"
"Let Me Roll It"/"Foxy Lady" (Jimi Hendrix cover)
"Paperback Writer"
"My Valentine"
"Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five"
"The Long And Winding Road"
"Maybe I'm Amazed"
"I've Just Seen A Face"
"We Can Work It Out"
"Another Day"
"And I Love Her"
"Here Today"
"Your Mother Should Know"
"Lady Madonna"
"All Together Now"
"Lovely Rita"
"Mrs. Vanderbilt"
"Eleanor Rigby"
"Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"
"Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da"
"Band On The Run"
"Back In The U.S.S.R."
"Let It Be"
"Live And Let Die"
"Hey Jude"
"Day Tripper"
"Hi, Hi, Hi"
"Get Back"
"Helter Skelter"
"Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight"/"The End" 

(Austin-based journalist Lynne Margolis currently contributes to American Songwriter, NPR-affiliate KUTX-FM's "Texas Music Matters," regional and local magazines, including Lone Star Music and Austin Monthly, and newspapers nationwide. She has previously contributed to the Christian Science Monitor (for which she was the "go-to" writer for Beatles stories), and Paste magazine. A contributing editor to the encyclopedia, The Ties That Bind: Bruce Springsteen From A To E To Z, she also writes bios for new and established artists.) 

And The GRAMMY Went To ... Jay Z
Jay Z

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images


And The GRAMMY Went To ... Jay Z

More on the rapper's two wins at the 56th GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

(In the coming weeks will feature information and video highlights on winners from the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards, held Jan. 26 in Los Angeles. Each installment will offer the winning or related video, and some pertinent, and not so pertinent, information about the track and the artists.)

Song: "Holy Grail" 

Artist: Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake

Won for: Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

Previous wins: Jay Z has 52 prior GRAMMY nominations and 17 prior GRAMMY wins. Timberlake has 28 prior nominations, including those with 'N Sync, and six prior wins.  

Did you know?: Jay Z led 56th GRAMMY nominations with nine. In addition to Best Rap/Sung Collaboration honors for "Holy Grail," Jay Z and Justin Timberlake also took home Best Music Video for "Suit & Tie." Jay Z has now won Best Rap/Sung Collaboration seven times in his career. He has the most GRAMMY wins this decade, winning nine so far. With 19 awards to date, Jay Z trails only Kanye West (21) as the rapper with the most GRAMMY wins. Jay Z and wife Beyoncé kicked off the 56th GRAMMY telecast with a performance of "Drunk In Love," a follow-up collaboration to their 2003 GRAMMY-winning hit "Crazy In Love."