Rick Anderson Dies: The Tubes’ Co-Founding Bassist Was 75

Rick Anderson, the co-founding bassist of the Tubes who was with the band for a half-century and played on “She’s a Beauty,” “Talk to Ya Later” and “White Punks on Dope,” has died. He was 75.

The band said in a statement that Anderson died December 15 but did not give a cause or other details. “We lost our brother on 12/16/22,” the Tubes wrote on social media (see the Instagram post below). “Rick brought a steady and kind presence to the band for 50 years. His love came through his bass. RIP.”

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Anderson played on all of the band’s albums from its 1975 debut to 1996 and continued to tour with them until 2022. His bass can be heard on the group’s lone pop hit, “She’s a Beauty” — which hit the Top 10 in 1983 — along with such classic rock tracks as “Talk to Ya Later,” “White Punks on Dope,” “What Do You Want from Life?” and “Don’t Touch Me There.”

Formed in 1972 in San Francisco, the band was known for its wild, theatrical live shows, which in its early days included props and elaborate stage sets and choreography by future High School Musical director Kenny Ortega. Their lavish and sometimes lascivious early shows are legendary.

Fronted by singer Fee Waybill, the Tubes opened for Led Zeppelin in the Bay Area in 1973 and was signed to Jerry Moss and Herb Albert’s A&M Records the next year. Its 1975 debut album includes the FM hit “White Punks on Dope” — which hit the Top 30 in the UK — along with fan favorites “What Do You Want from Life?” and “Mondo Bondage.” It peaked at No. 113 on the Billboard 200.

When performing “White Punks” onstage, Waybill sported sky-high heels and a long white wig and big glasses and transformed into the way-over-the-top rock gawd “Quay Lude” — a bit he continues to this day. The band’s classic lineup also included Roger Steen and Bill Spooner (guitars), Prairie Prince (drums) and Michael Cotten and Vince Welnick (keyboards). Welnick joined the Grateful Dead in 1990 and died in 2006.

Anderson and the Tubes released two more studio albums and a double live LP recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London and continued to tour nearly nonstop before recording their 1979 LP Remote Control, a concept album about the influence of television. It became group’s biggest U.S. album to date, and the single “Prime Time” hit the UK Top 40.

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The following year, Anderson and the Tubes played themselves in the musical feature Xanadu, performing a duet with star Olivia Newton-John on the song “Dancin’,” in the film and its soundtrack, which peaked at No. 4 in the U.S. and went double platinum

That exposure set the stage for the Tubes’ breakout disc.

The Completion Backward Principle was released in April 1981 on Capitol Records, after their move from A&M, and featured the FM smash “Talk to Ya Later,” which remains a staple on classic rock radio. The album also spawned “I Don’t Want to Wait Anymore,” a Spooner song that played on the era’s hunger for rock ballads and became the band’s first Top 40 single.

That year the band also put out The Tubes Video, a longform VHS and Laserdisc also choreographed by Ortega that featured vignettes for the all of the Completion Backward songs along with “Mono Bondage,” “Sports Fan” and a few others.

The Tubes would enjoy their greatest pop success with the 1983 album Outside Inside,” which featured “She’s a Beauty.” Waybill starred as a carnival barker in the video that got widespread play on then-nascent MTV and helped drive the song to No. 10 on the Hot 100. It also spent five weeks atop Billboard’s Rock Tracks chart.

The Tubes released their final Capitol album, Love Bomb, in 1985. It would be their last major-label disc, but the band would continue to record and tour, with a scaled-down live show. Anderson played Los Angeles-area shows with them as recently as this summer.


A post shared by The Tubes (@thetubesgroup)

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