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641088 Posts in 25598 Topics by 3641 Members - Latest Member: MilkyWay December 13, 2018, 05:38:17 PM
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Author Topic: Dennis' Voice 1980-1981  (Read 2839 times)
sensiblechuckle
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« on: October 11, 2018, 10:15:43 PM »

Hey all,

I don't really post here (at all) but I've been a massive fan of this board, the band, and the wealth of knowledge and trivia just scouring in my free time.

I've never found a good answer about this, but I've always been curious about Dennis' deterioration of his voice. Between 1980 to the end, he's always sang You Are So Beautiful, however, I'm curious to know the reason he stopped singing other songs with the group.

On Live at Knebworth, he is still singing live, and carrying harmonies in Surfer Girl and Help Me Rhonda; are there any post Knebworth concerts where he was audible as a singer where he sang something other than You Are So Beautiful (harmony or otherwise)?

I know about the fight that he had in early 1981, but was that incident so severe that he couldn't sing any other song, harmony or otherwise?
Was it his decision to stop singing due to his damaged voice or was it the band's decision?
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Jay
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2018, 10:27:07 PM »

By 1981 Dennis could barely speak, let alone sing. I think YASB was most likely the most he could tolerate.
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2018, 10:42:20 PM »

By the end , sadly, he could barely even do that
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2018, 10:46:51 PM »

By the end , sadly, he could barely even do that
Exactly. Listening to his full performance of YASB(not just the part in An American Band) is heartbreaking. It's barely above a hoarse whisper.
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HeyJude
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2018, 07:11:26 AM »

What's ironic is that, even with a hobbled voice by 1980, there are *other* songs Dennis could have tried that probably would have been easier on his voice (and the audience's ears) than "You Are So Beautiful." Even the stuff he was doing in 1979 like "Angel Come Home" would have taxed his voice a bit less.

Doing a song that requires such a range of notes, and doing it in such a naked fashion with only piano accompaniment, unfortunately only revealed his deteriorated voice even more. A full band behind a less taxing song would have worked better. But I get it, he didn't even rejoin the touring band until mid-1980, and by 1981/82 was missing shows sporadically to a degree where they probably weren't likely to have a bunch of Dennis songs rehearsed and ready to go.
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2018, 08:36:37 AM »

I think that even up to 1980, Dennis had a pretty good voice. It wasn't until the 1981 beating that it became beyond repair(to my ears, at least). I know that in 1982 the group occasionally performed "It's OK", but I don't know who did the "find a ride" part. I can't tell who is singing it in the one version I've heard. It would have been interesting if Dennis would attempted Angel Come Home around that time. Perhaps Carl could have handled the chorus, leaving Dennis for the relatively quiet parts.
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Amy B.
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2018, 09:56:46 AM »

His voice is definitely rougher in POB. In the late 60s/early 70s stuff, I think it's got its own beauty--different from the beauty of his brothers' voices, but pretty to listen to, nonetheless. Mid 70s, it's rougher, though I don't find it hard to listen to. But obviously in the early 80s, that was damage on a whole other level.
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c-man
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2018, 10:42:40 AM »

His voice was continually deteriorating after 1974, which is when the punch to his throat happened (whether intentional or not, it depends on who's telling the story). Cocaine, alcohol, and cigarette consumption accelerated after that, just worsening it further...it's sad to listen to "WIBNTLA" (from '71), then "Barnyeard Blues" (from '74), then POB ('76-'77), then Bambu ('77-'78), 'cause his voice gets successively rougher. I still love the expressiveness of his voice on all of those though, but by '83 he was practically unlistenable. He did reportedly have laser vocal cord surgery that year, in an attempt to reverse the damage - not sure what month that was.

Oh, and I believe it's Carl singing Dennis' tag vocal part on the live "It's OK" from '82.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2018, 10:43:28 AM by c-man » Logged
Jay
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2018, 12:15:10 PM »

I think on certain songs like "Under The Moonlight", Dennis found a way to make the best use of his current voice. I think he still sounds good on the version of "All Alone" from 1979(the little that he sings, anyway). I think that the somewhat older sounding, worn out voice was very effective in a song like "Thoughts of You", and "Farwell My Friend".
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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2018, 06:46:26 PM »

His voice was continually deteriorating after 1974, which is when the punch to his throat happened (whether intentional or not, it depends on who's telling the story). Cocaine, alcohol, and cigarette consumption accelerated after that, just worsening it further...it's sad to listen to "WIBNTLA" (from '71), then "Barnyeard Blues" (from '74), then POB ('76-'77), then Bambu ('77-'78), 'cause his voice gets successively rougher. I still love the expressiveness of his voice on all of those though, but by '83 he was practically unlistenable. He did reportedly have laser vocal cord surgery that year, in an attempt to reverse the damage - not sure what month that was.

Oh, and I believe it's Carl singing Dennis' tag vocal part on the live "It's OK" from '82.


While the drugs & cigarettes didn't help, getting whacked in the throat by one of the Love baboons certainly had the intended impact it did. Roll Eyes
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Lonely Summer
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« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2018, 07:22:53 PM »

I think that even up to 1980, Dennis had a pretty good voice. It wasn't until the 1981 beating that it became beyond repair(to my ears, at least). I know that in 1982 the group occasionally performed "It's OK", but I don't know who did the "find a ride" part. I can't tell who is singing it in the one version I've heard. It would have been interesting if Dennis would attempted Angel Come Home around that time. Perhaps Carl could have handled the chorus, leaving Dennis for the relatively quiet parts.
Who beat him in 1981?
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c-man
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« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2018, 07:43:40 PM »

I think that even up to 1980, Dennis had a pretty good voice. It wasn't until the 1981 beating that it became beyond repair(to my ears, at least). I know that in 1982 the group occasionally performed "It's OK", but I don't know who did the "find a ride" part. I can't tell who is singing it in the one version I've heard. It would have been interesting if Dennis would attempted Angel Come Home around that time. Perhaps Carl could have handled the chorus, leaving Dennis for the relatively quiet parts.
Who beat him in 1981?

Stan and Rocky. Not sure if it was '81 or '82 - I've heard both.
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sensiblechuckle
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2018, 08:19:42 AM »

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is if Dennis had any leads or harmonies in 1980 (considering his beating was approximately January 1981) beyond Knebworth considering he was back in the band mid 1980.
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Jay
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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2018, 11:20:52 AM »

He would still go to the piano and bang out some notes during Help Me Rhonda, and occasionally join in during the chorus, or sometimes improvising a bass vocal. He can be seen doing this in the footage from Long Beach in 1981. I'm sure he probably continued to play the part of "hype man"(for lack of a better term) during the audience participation part of Good Vibrations.
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Jim V.
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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2018, 12:28:16 PM »

All of this is why that song "Labor Day" is so interesting to me. Apparently this was the last time Dennis ever recorded new material. And also the song's studio sheet supposedly lists the song as having vocal and piano, so it's hard to imagine that if indeed the song is recorded in full, what it could be.
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Tony S
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« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2018, 02:20:17 PM »

I have a performance from November 1982, from Montego Bay, just about a year from Dennis' death in December 1983. Typically, in the past, he would sing Harmony of Rhonda or Surfer Girl, both of which you could immediately tell was Dennis. In the latter years, Rhonda especially was almost like a horse croak, so fairly obvious it was Dennis. Here, on this performance, he is silent on Rhonda, and seems to be somewhat audible on Surfer Girl on some of the harmony. If you listen closely. You can find it on the internet if you want to listen.
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c-man
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« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2018, 03:59:46 PM »

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is if Dennis had any leads or harmonies in 1980 (considering his beating was approximately January 1981) beyond Knebworth considering he was back in the band mid 1980.

Besides "Surfer Girl" and "Rhonda", he was also harmonizing on "In My Room" (while playing the drums) through 1980, including Knebworth. However, the Long Beach televised footage shows that by '81, he had returned to the drums for "Surfer Girl" and was no longer singing on that or "In My Room".
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Needleinthehay
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« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2018, 02:05:26 AM »

The throat punch by rocky was supposedly super bowl sunday, 1981 (so last week of jan)
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c-man
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« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2018, 09:08:21 AM »

The throat punch by rocky was supposedly super bowl sunday, 1981 (so last week of jan)

That was not the infamous punch to the throat incident - the very detailed and disturbing description of the Super Bowl beating in the Gaines book makes no mention of a throat punch. The alleged throat punch from Stephen Love that reportedly damaged Dennis' vocal cords occurred in 1974.

EDIT: for the record, the '74 throat punch has been variously described as a stray punch from Steve Love, a deliberate punch from Steve Love, and as follows by Steve Love himself on this board in 2014:  "Not only was I NOT the guy who karate chopped Dennis in the throat in 1974 at the Red Onion restaurant in Redondo Beach, CA, Im the guy who knocked out the bouncer who struck a barefoot Dennis who attempted to push past the doorman to get to the dance floor."
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 09:19:02 AM by c-man » Logged
Jim V.
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« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2018, 10:18:37 AM »

Has any other info about "Labor Day" ever made itself known? With the state of his voice, it's just kinda tough to imagine how it would sound.
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phirnis
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« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2018, 12:34:38 AM »

In the Long Beach footage you can hear him yelling some random stuff throughout Help Me Rhonda (like "I love Shawn" IIRC) and he sounds like a totally different person. That has always puzzled me.
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Jay
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« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2018, 12:44:40 AM »

In the Long Beach footage you can hear him yelling some random stuff throughout Help Me Rhonda (like "I love Shawn" IIRC) and he sounds like a totally different person. That has always puzzled me.
I've always tried to figure out exactly what Dennis was doing during Help Me Rhonda. I mean, I can make out him saying "I love Shawn", and I think "I love you Shawnie", but he he's also doing some kind of vocalizing throughout the song. It actually kind of reminds me of a bass singer in a doo wop group. I might dust off my dvd of that show to view it again(the sound quality isn't very good though).
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« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2018, 10:10:55 PM »

In the 1983 Seattle show, when Carl is singing "What You Do to Me," Dennis at one point goes over and joins Al at a microphone to sing background, with his hand to his ear the way he liked to do. But I can't actually hear his voice.
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Lonely Summer
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« Reply #23 on: October 24, 2018, 11:32:07 PM »

In the 1983 Seattle show, when Carl is singing "What You Do to Me," Dennis at one point goes over and joins Al at a microphone to sing background, with his hand to his ear the way he liked to do. But I can't actually hear his voice.
I'm familiar with that clip - I was at the show! I don't remember hearing Dennis sing ANYTHING at that show. But I was unaware of his personal problems at that time; I was more interested in the fact that Brian was at the show, and looking better than he had in a long time.
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Jay
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« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2018, 01:35:55 AM »

I don't hear Dennis at all in What You Do To Me, but if I put the dvd into my other dvd player I use as a "CD player" and turn the volume up a bit, I can hear Dennis rather enthusiastically congratulating Carl after the song ends. It's quite touching, if a bit sad because his voice is so hoarse you can't quite make out what he says. By the way, you can actually hear(and see) Dennis saying "Are you ready?" before the show starts.
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