Cashing in on the King of Pop |

Cashing in on the King of Pop

CHARLIE OWENEagle County correspondent

Special to the Daily/Tom Edwards

BRECKENRIDGE Hes not the prince of pop or the chief of pop, or even the dictator of pop. Hes the King of Pop, and despite Michael Jacksons facial reconstructions and child molestation accusations, his legacy in the music world and beyond is as glittering as his gloved hand.So, what does a new college graduate trying to jump-start a career as a jazz saxophonist do? Thats easy start a Michael Jackson tribute band, of course. You go to the bars and you hear Billie Jean or Beat It or any of those songs come on and … heads start nodding or people start dancing, you know, its like an instant reaction, said Vamsi (pronounced wom-z) Tadepalli, founder of Whos Bad and saxophonist for the band. Whos Bad is Tadepallis way of paying homage to one of the greatest performers of all time while making a living playing the saxophone something he said was nearly impossible playing jazz gigs. Saturday night, Whos Bad moonwalks onto the stage at Sherpa & Yetis in Breck, and Tadepalli promises a high-energy show with lots of dancing hopefully not just from the guys on stage.Its a party. Were playing all the hits. Everybody knows all the songs whether they want to admit it or not, Tadepalli said.

Breckenridge is a long way from the bands home in North Carolina, but their popularity has grown since their first show in 2004, which sold out. Jackson turns 50 this year, which also marks the 25th anniversary of Thriller considered by most critics to be a masterpiece. The two milestones will likely provide at least a temporary career boost for Whos Bad. Were trying to capitalize on that, Tadepalli said.Whos Bad is Joseph Bell, Jr. (as Jackson), Stephen Coffman on drums, Ray McCall on trumpet, Hugh Swaso on guitar, Kevin Timmons on bass and Tadepalli on the sax.The current lineup has gone through some changes (Bell is the fifth person to be Jackson) since the band formed, but Tadepalli said that hasnt affected their performances. They cover everything beginning with the Jackson Five years up to the seeming end of Jacksons musical career with choreographed dance numbers and costume changes thrown in to maximize theatrics. And although he couldnt pick a favorite Michael Jackson song, Tadepalli did say that the crowd influences the songs they play at each show whatever the audience wants, the band tries to deliver.Whos Bad celebrates Jacksons success as an entertainer, Tadepalli said, and the band members are not concerned with his personal life or shortcomings.As far as pop artists, hes by far the best ever I think. As far as like, a full package of dancing and singing there is no artist that has ever compared to him, Tadepalli said.Charlie Owen can be reached at (970) 748-2939 or