Feb 152013

Were seemingly pointless sidekicks especially prevalent in the 1980s, at least in the England? Whether they were actually pointless or not, it’s time we determine—once and for all—the Least-Essential Sidekick of ’80s Rock. The nominees and the RTH People’s Poll follow…after the jump!


  33 Responses to “Once and For All: Who Was the Least-Essential Sidekick of ’80s Rock?”

  1. Suburban kid

    I immediately though of Ridgely when I saw the title, but then I figured Wham isn’t rock, so maybe he doesn’t count.

    In fact, the whole slate pretty much belongs in a Pop Community Center debate rather than in the Rock Town Hall chamber, no?

  2. Broadly speaking, Suburban kid, broadly speaking. This is part of the legacy of the ’80s that must be confronted…once and for all.

  3. Hey, I had no idea Curt Smith actually sang lead on a lot of Tears for Fears songs! We may have to pull him from this discussion.

  4. Suburban kid

    I’m a member of the broad pop church, so it’s all good

  5. trigmogigmo

    I agree — my immediate reaction was that he does not deserve to be in this category.

    Skimming my ’80s records I cannot come up with any other good nominees.

  6. Suburban kid

    Weren’t there three Thompson Twins? Surely two would have been enough.

  7. misterioso

    Even though it is obvious that Mick Talbot had talent and ability whereas Andrew Ridgely, not so much, I agree with Suburban Kid’s basic premise and Wham! is not something I can care about one way or the other. I feel a little guilty assigning all blame for the failures of the Style Council to Talbot, and I don’t really, but, then, maybe I do. Which makes no sense, but there you have it.

  8. If there is an element of “blame” to consider perhaps that’s a tip that the sidekick is actually essential, albeit in a bad way. I think Talbot makes some sense because Weller was capable of sucking that bad without him. It’s like Weller roped in Talbot only to spread the possible blame for his bold, new direction. In that view, I find Talbot fairly unessential as a musician but, perhaps, essential to Weller as a sidekick.

    I think Ridgeley served a purpose to George Michael as a “pretty boy” foil to the band’s more rugged, dominant leader.

  9. cliff sovinsanity

    I completely concur that Curt Smith does not belong in this group. “Change”, “Mad World”, “Everbody..The World”. These are their best songs.

  10. jeangray

    Wasn’t there some sidekick guy in Madness?

  11. Art Garfunkel


  12. cherguevara

    There were two singers, is that who you mean? I think Madness was a highly underrated band and you make think I’m totally off, but for me, they fit between the Kinks and Blur as a quintessentially British band, thematically, if not musically.

  13. bostonhistorian

    Chas Smash is the backup singer/dancer in Madness, a role which might seem unessential except he co-wrote the band’s biggest hit “Our House” and provided the intro to “One Step Beyond”. And yes, I think Madness is underrated as well.

  14. 2000 Man

    Was he still alive in the 80’s?

  15. cherguevara

    Does it have to be an actual band member? If not, I’d nominate the mime who toured with Howard Jones in his heyday.

  16. There’s a lot of rap duos where one guy is the whole show and the other is there for some other reason. I would suspect that Will Smith or Chuck D never really needed DJ Jazzy Jeff or Flava Flav.

  17. Oh yea, I was thinking yesterday where I read in a Joe Strummer biography how Bez was kind of the guy who knew and connected everyone in that Madchester scene.

  18. I had no idea such a character existed! If this is true, yes, he qualifies and unless there’s a killer argument against it, I say his existence outweighs our People’s Poll and that this clown takes home the prize…once and for all!

  19. cliff sovinsanity

    It’s all relative. Pale Shelter hits a sweet spot from my younger years.

  20. DJ Jazzy Jeff was the guy who stole the bits from other people’s records, no? That was an essential role.

    As for Public Enemy I may argue that Flavor Flav is the MOST essential sidekick in rock. For all of Chuck D’s bluster and toughness, it was key to have Flav off to the side supplying not only comic relief but the taunts of a pipsqueak who is protected by his big, bully buddy. Flav’s taunts, which he could never back up on his own, serve to make Chuck D even tougher and more commanding. It’s bad enough to have Chuck D yelling in your face. You know you can’t strike back at him. Then you’ve got Flavor Flav off to the side infuriating you. You KNOW you could kick his ass, but you don’t dare make a move toward him for fear that Chuck would kick your ass first.

  21. Oh my lord, I’ve never seen this before. First of all, Smith is cast in the role of the lonely boy with a lone teardrop rolling down his face as he gazes forlornly out the window. I have been looking for the perfect visual representation of that character for years, any time I want to cut on some artist who projects what I also refer to as a “Singing from His Deathbed while Holding His Newborn Son” vibe. Thank you.

    This video also makes me wonder if I should have mistakenly cast the other guy in the “other guy” slot for this discussion. Surely his dance scenes explain why he didn’t make the cut as a dancer in Madonna’s “Justify My Love” video.

  22. Suburban kid

    Um… Terminator X was Public Enemy’s DJ.

    DJ Jazzy Jeff was the DJ/sidekick of the Fresh Prince.

  23. Suburban kid

    I agree regarding Flav’s essential status in PE. But the group did have dispensable sidekicks (and I think they were eventually let go). It was the “S1Ws” — militant dancer/security guys.

  24. Thank you! The only reasonable competition I can see to the mime is Jones’ snipped ponytail.

  25. If that was directed at me, I know that. That’s why I was saying that DJ Jazzy Jeff was essential.

    Good point about the sidekicks to the sidekicks that ran rampant through PE. How about the disgraced Professor Griff, or whatever his name was? Remember when he got booted for making anti-Semitic comments?

  26. Suburban kid

    No it was the comment above yours I was replying to, but now I see that I totally missed the mention of Will Smith, so never mind!


  27. Suburban kid

    Yes, Professor Griff, Minister of Information, was booted for one very racist comment. He was later let back in, and to his credit, he apologized and retracted his ridiculous comment. Still not sure what he does. Chuck D doesn’t seem to need any help in terms of info and commentary.

  28. hrrundivbakshi

    Coincidence: I was hanging out with a dude who recently returned from a triumphant European tour with Jazzy Jeff. Opening act, DJ, cleared $10K per gig, he said.

  29. I agree with you K. What ever happened to DJ Jazzy Jeff. Wasn’t Flava Flav in “Public Enemy”?

  30. [The sound of 107 real musicians shooting themselves.]

  31. Yea, sorry, I guess my original comment was kind of shorthand. I have seen DJ Jazzy Jeff’s name around, but weren’t his samples kind of lame and obvious in “Parents Don’t Understand” and “Summertime”. Will Smith is charismatic enough to carry the load.

    And I guess I never thought Flav was funny. But I can really only work with a few of those those noisy, angry-type P.E. tracks

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube