The band that is arguably the most unlikely to have ever won a Grammy Award and nearly sell out Madison Square Garden is Tenacious D. The odds of succeeding for a pair of chubby dudes boasting about their musical and sexual prowess via comedic song are as long as Jack Black becoming a leading man.
Well, perhaps that’s not the best example, since Black starred in such films as “School of Rock,” “Nacho Libre” and “Shallow Hal.”
Tenacious D, which will perform Monday at Northern Quest Resort & Casino, has quite a history. Black, a theatrical vocalist-guitarist and co-conspirator Kyle Gass, a vocalist and accomplished guitarist, were an underground acoustic metal duo a generation ago. Tenacious D morphed from cult act to surprising platinum act. Yes, the quirky twosome sold more than 1 million copies of the DVD “The Complete Master Works.”
It helped having the entertaining HBO show “Tenacious D” run on the infallible network from 1997-2000 and developing friendships with such humorists as Ben Stiller, David Cross and Dave Grohl. Such icons as Pearl Jam, Beck and the Foo Fighters tabbed Tenacious D as an opener.
But the tandem deserve credit for writing amusing and at times catchy tunes. The 2001 eponymous album is a reminder how good Tenacious D is when reaching for such well-crafted and amusing tunes as “Tribute,” “One Note Song” and “Kyle Quit the Band.” And give props to Black and Gass for tipping their cap to the greatest metal singer of all time, Ronnie James Dio, frontman of the band Dio.
It’ll be worth catching Black and Gass at Northern Quest just to witness the pair waxing extemporaneously between songs.
It’s easy to forget how great Tenacious D is and for that matter, Black. Here’s 10 things you might not know about Black or Tenacious D.
1. Jack Black starred in the greatest television show that never aired.
What would have happened if a network picked up the eccentric and brilliant “Heat Vision and Jack?” The pilot, co-created by Dan Harmon, who later struck gold with “Community,” is inventive, hilarious and completely original. Before the mainstream knew Black, the wiseguy starred as an astronaut who gets too close to the sun. Upon returning to Earth, an evil NASA honcho tries to extricate Black’s brain. While running away from the NASA madman, played by Ron Silver, Black runs out to his friend, portrayed by the then-unknown Owen Wilson, who is waiting for his pal on his motorcycle. Silver accidentally zaps Wilson, who becomes his bike because of the rays from the laser gun and is Heat Vision. Black’s character is the smartest man on Earth when the sun is out, but at night he’s a knucklehead.
But then it gets weird.
2. The band’s 2006 movie “Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny” scored mixed reviews and lost $6 million.
3. In 2014, the band covered Dio’s “The Last in Line, for Ronnie James Dio-This is Your Life,” to raise money to fight cancer, which was the cause of the vocalist’s death. Tenacious D’s cover of “The Last in Line” won a Grammy for best heavy metal performance at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.
Prior to breaking, Black interviewed recording artists such as Beck on HBO’s “Reverb.” Yours truly interviewed not quite as cool acts for Reverb, such as Sugar Ray. Black, who is a heck of an interviewer, could have been a journalist but he had a higher calling.
5. Mock rock is the way some critics describe Tenacious D’s vulgar absurdist tunes.
6. When Tenacious D is on hiatus, Kyle Gass leads the Kyle Gass Band.
7. There are cameos of Tenacious D in Foo Fighter and Weezer videos.
8. Black has a YouTube channel called Jablinski Games.
9. A young Black appeared on such ‘90s hit shows as “Northern Exposure” and “The X-Files.”
10. Black’s first favorite band was Abba. Who could have guessed?
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