When Which One’s Pink appeared at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center last year, the Pink Floyd tribute band sold out the venue. The band will return at 8 p.m., Nov. 10, to the LPAC. A limited number of tickets are still available.
Which One’s Pink celebrated its 20th anniversary in February. The group got its start after keyboardist and vocalist Larry Isenberg and band manager Dan Johnson saw Pink Floyd perform over two nights at the Rose Bowl, 24 years ago, on the band’s “Division Bell” tour. Both lawyers, they had known each other since they met in the late ’80s, when they worked at the same large Los Angeles-based law firm. They bonded over a love of music.
“He happens to have a degree in music theory and I don’t,” Johnson said in a telephone interview.
He admitted he can’t sing, or play an instrument. But he knows his rock music trivia.
After those Pink Floyd shows at the Rose Bowl, Isenberg, who played in a lawyer “house band,” decided he wanted to put together a Pink Floyd jam band.
“It was all about fun,” Johnson said.
Isenberg wanted to find other, talented musicians who were into Pink Floyd as much as he was — and who could actually play the music. He placed an ad in the Recycler looking for people to jam to Pink Floyd.
One of the guys who answered the ad was 20-something guitarist Paul Samarin. The rest of the band was in their 40s. Since they already had a guitarist, they asked Samarin if he could play the bass. He agreed. They played a few songs and took a break. Isenberg stuck around and played some tracks from Pink Floyd’s 1983 album “The Final Cut,” the band’s last album with Roger Waters.
“To Larry’s and my surprise, this kid steps up to the microphone and starts singing ‘The Final Cut,‘” Johnson said.
Isenberg and Johnson were impressed. Soon enough, the band’s singer at the time became their former singer. The band played together for about two years, jamming in each other’s backyard or garage. In the meantime, Johnson followed Queen tribute band Sheer Heart Attack. He saw them play with other tribute bands and thought they should get a show together. They booked a show in February 1998 at the Roxy on Sunset Boulevard. They agreed to sell tickets in advance of the show and give the venue the money.
Johnson found Pink Floyd fans in Los Angeles who included the band’s name in their profile and he emailed them. They had about 100 people there for the show, including friends, family and strangers.
“We never, never envisioned that we would some day be playing at the House of Blues, let alone the Pacific Amphitheater, or even the Lancaster PAC,” Johnson said. “The success of this band has been quite an accident and it really was not planned.”
Which One’s Pink, he added, is a labor of love that grew out of a desire to have fun and make the music for themselves. The group’s audience ranges from children to adults.
“I’m massively entertained every time they take the stage,” Johnson, who admitted he’s biased, said. “I think they’re fantastic and that’s what our fans tell us.”
An important distinction to know is that Which One’s Pink is a tribute band, not a cover band.
“Everybody in our band is an A-plus player, but there’s one guy who really is the answer to the question Which One’s Pink, that’s Paul Samarin,” Johnson said.
Samarin has played lead guitar in the band since 2011, when the band’s former guitar player moved home to New York.
“The guy is massively devoted to authenticity,” Johnson said of Samarin.
Which One’s Pink was named Best Tribute Band in All Access Magazine’s Music Awards in 2003. They were also appeared twice on the World’s Greatest Tribute Band TV show.
The Los Angeles-based band doesn’t tour. They generally only play venues in Southern California. Johnson said they were surprised to learn they sold out the Lancaster Performing Arts Center last year.
“When we got there and they were like,’Guys, every seat is sold,’ we were thrilled. And the crowd was so good,” Johnson said.