The nearly men of pop music: I'm (not) with the band

When stardom beckons, some people make the most of their good fortune. Others, intentionally or otherwise, blow it. Following the death of Rolling Stone manqué Carlo Little, Ciar Byrne celebrates the rock legends who never were
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The Independent Culture

When Brian Jones asked Carlo Little to join his fledgling band the Rolling Stones, the drummer refused, later saying: "I was a professional musician and it didn't seem worthwhile."

Already a successful drummer, who had instructed the Who's Keith Moon in the art and played with Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages, Little opted to stay with Cyril Davies and the All Stars, recommending his friend Charlie Watts to Jones. Despite being described by Keith Richards as "the best rock and roll drummer in the world", Little remained one of rock's "nearly men".

The musician, who died from lung cancer at home in South Shields at the weekend, opted for a life of suburban contentment. A former drummer with the Royal Fusiliers, Little was renowned for his powerful sound. But he never joined a band that really made the big time. The Savages narrowly missed fame with the 1961 single "Till the Following Night". After splitting with the All Stars following a row with Davies, Little went on to play as a session musician with a string of bands, including the Hoochie Coochie Men, Buddy Britain and the Regents, Neil Christian and the Crusaders, the Echoes and the Flowerpot Men.

When he met his wife, Iris, Little renounced the musician's life in favour of a steady wage, becoming a greengrocer and driving a Mother's Pride delivery van. For a brief time, he ran a store in Wembley with the former Deep Purple bassist Nick Simper. He later ran two burger bars at Wembley stadium, where he might have played had he stayed with the Stones. In 1998, he was reunited with the band for a TV documentary.

TONY McCARROLL (OASIS)

Drummer Tony "Mac" McCarroll was part of the original Oasis line-up, but sued the band after they dumped him in 1995.

In 1989, McCarroll had joined a band called the Rain alongside singer Chris Hutton, guitarist Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs and bassist Paul McGuigan. Following a gig at Manchester venue, the Boardwalk, in May 1991, the Gallagher brothers came on board. Later that year, Oasis was born.

McCarroll played on the hit debut album Definitely Maybe, but was ejected in 1995 following a fight with Liam in a Paris bar and replaced by Alan White. In 1999, claiming he had a five-album contract with Oasis and had been "unlawfully expelled from the partnership", McCarroll sued the band, seeking one fifth of their earnings since his departure - an estimated £18m. Even though he hired Jens Hill, the lawyer who had represented Pete Best when he successfully sued The Beatles, he was forced to settle for a more modest £550,000 due to mounting fees.

The Gallagher brothers questioned his musical ability, alleged that his drumming was poor and that he had shown no interest in improving his technique, but McCarroll blamed the split on a personality clash.

He was last heard of working in a rehearsal studio in Manchester and teaching drumming.

PETE BEST (THE BEATLES)

The most famous "nearly man" in music history, Pete Best, was dumped by the Beatles two weeks before the release of their first single, "Love Me Do", in 1962. Best's mother, Mona, ran The Casbah, a Liverpool coffee bar, where Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison first played as the Quarrymen. In 1960, Best joined the Beatles when they played in Hamburg. Here they met Ringo Starr, who replaced Best. He was told he was out because George Martin did not like his drumming. After a couple of attempts at new bands, Best became a baker then a civil servant. In later life, he formed the Pete Best Band and toured the US and the Far East with a sell-out show. In 1995, when the surviving Beatles released Anthology, including tracks on which Best played, he secured a reported £2m from the band. Best still lives in Liverpool and gigs with his eponymous band.

GLEN MATLOCK (SEX PISTOLS)

The original bass player with punk rockers the Sex Pistols, Matlock, at rear, left the band in 1977 and was replaced by Sid Vicious. In his autobiography, I Was a Teenage Sex Pistol, Matlock claimed he quit of his own accord. Other theories were that he was too fond of the Beatles and he was too cute looking. He went on to form the Rich Kids with Midge Ure. He was a member of the Sex Pistols when they played their first gig at St Martin's School of Art in London in November 1975. The next year, the band was signed by EMI and released its first hit single, "Anarchy in the UK". Their tour turned sour when the guitarist Steve Jones said the word "fuck" on television, provoking criticism. Matlock's last Pistols' gig was at the Paradiso in Amsterdam in early 1977 After he left, the band signed to Virgin Records and later that year hit the big time with "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols".

STEVEN DUFFY (DURAN DURAN)

Stephen Duffy met John Taylor and Nick Rhodes at art school in Birmingham and in 1978 they formed Duran Duran.

Duffy, Rhodes and a student friend, Simon Colley, toured the college circuit, but the following year Duffy left. Duran Duran went on to achieve fame with a new vocalist, Simon Le Bon, and their 1981 debut hit single "Planet Earth".

Duffy, meanwhile, pursued his passion for folk music. In 1985, he won brief success, reaching number three with the song "Kiss Me" under the moniker Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy. In the mid-1990s, he teamed up with Blur's Alex James to release "Me, Me, Me" and flirted with ecstasy, releasing an album under the name Dr Calculus MDMA.

In 2002, Duffy reunited with Rhodes to rerecord Duran Duran tracks. Last year, he achieved his first number one, "Radio", co-written with, and for, Robbie Williams.

CHAD CHANNING (NIRVANA)

Chad Channing played the drums on Nirvana's debut album Bleach, which cost $600 to record over three days. In the two years after its release on the Seattle label Sub Pop Records in August 1989, the album sold a modest 30,000 copies.The band got through a couple of drummers, before Sub Pop suggested Channing, who joined in 1988 but left in 1990 citing "creative differences" after a European tour. Kurt Cobain said of his departure: "I felt like I'd just killed someone."

A few temporary drummers stepped in until Dave Grohl appeared and Nirvana signed with Geffen Records. In September 1991, they released Nevermind, featuring "Smells Like Teen Spirit" which sold more than 13 million copies. Three years later, Cobain shot himself.

Channing is still drumming in a band called East of the Equator.

LATAVIA ROBERSON (DESTINY'S CHILD)

In 1990, when they were nine years old, LaTavia Roberson and Beyoncé Knowles formed Destiny's Child, a fledgling girl band managed by Knowles's father, Matthew. Two years later, Knowles's cousin Kelly Rowland joined the group and in 1993, a fourth band-member, LaToya Tuckett came on board. The group signed to Columbia Records in 1997, and success soon followed with two albums, but as international fame beckoned, a rift appeared. Roberson and Tuckett tried to drop Knowles as their manager amid rumours of favouritism and subsequently left. Two new members, Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin, replaced the pair who retaliated by suing Knowles for breach of contract. The case was settled out of court. Later, Franklin also left. The remaining trio of Knowles, Rowland and Williams went on to become one of the most successful all-female groups. Roberson and Luckett went on to form their own girl group, Anjel, but this was short-lived and Roberson is now pursuing a career in acting.

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