The Tubes were arch satirists of popular culture whose outrageous performance art concepts — which swung wildly from softcore pornography to suit-and-tie conservatism — frequently eclipsed their elusive musical identity. The beginnings of the group originated in Phoenix, Arizona in the late ’60s, where guitarist Bill Spooner, keyboardist Vince Welnick, and bassist Rick Anderson formed as the Beans (alternately billing themselves as the Radar Men from Uranus). After moving to San Francisco in 1972, the Beans recruited guitarist Roger Steen and drummer Prairie Prince (from Red, White & Blues), and later became The Tubes with the addition of Michael Cotten on keyboards and former roadie Fee Waybill on lead vocals.
Over the course of the next few years, The Tubes earned a devoted cult following on the strength of Spooner’s parodic songs and the group’s surreal live shows, which featured Waybill adopting a variety of personae including the “crippled Nazi” Dr. Strangekiss, country singer Hugh Heifer, and Quay Lewd, a drug-addled British pop star. After signing to A&M in 1975, they released their self-titled debut, followed a year later by Young and Rich; while both failed to transfer the manic energy and theatrical complexity of their live set onto record, the single “White Punks on Dope” became a minor hit and a radio staple.