Friday, 27 June 2014

Replacement vocalists

It must be difficult, if you're in a major rock band, so decide what to do when a core member of your band decides to split. Especially if it is the frontman. And even more so if the vocalist is the one that most people associate with your band. In Queen's case it must have been especially difficult - the singer they had for 21 years died rather suddenly. Freddie was iconic. No matter who replaced him, that person would be constantly evaluated against the late great Fred. But for the band, what decision do you make? Do you retire the passion of your life's work? Or do you keep going, knowing that the gamble could possibly only deliver ever diminishing returns?

Here are a few bands who decided to replace their original lead singers after only a few releases. These bands didn't descend into quagmire as a result, but rather they went from strength to strength.

Van Halen
David Lee Roth replaced with Sammy Hagar

David Lee Roth was with Van Halen for 10 years, from their inception in 1974 to his acrimonious split with them in late 1984. It was always going to be a big task to replace him, and yet Montrose guitarist and solo artist Sammy Hagar has more than comfortably handled the role. If there was any backlash as a result of the switch, it was very short lived, as the bands first 4 records with Sammy hit #1 in the US album charts.

Deep Purple
Rod Evans replaced with Ian Gillan

Rod Evans was the founding vocalist for Deep Purple . He sang on the band's first three LPs "Shades of Deep Purple", "The Book of Taliesyn" and "Deep Purple" before he was either sacked or he resigned - most sources seem to contradict each other. He fronted what is regarded as the "Mark I" lineup. The Gillan years are known as the "Mark II" lineup, most famous for the albums "Deep Purple In Rock", "Fireball", "Machine Head" and "Made In Japan".

Iron Maiden
Paul Di'Anno replaced with Bruce Dickinson

Paul DiAnno wasn't the first vocal with Maiden, but Paul Di'Anno sang on the first two albums. His increasingly erratic off-stage behaviour led to the band replacing him with Bruce Dickinson in 1982. From that point on, the band was unstoppable.

Dave Evans replaced with Bon Scott
And you thought I was referring to Brian Johnson, right? Dave Evans was the first singer in AC/DC. The band released their first single "Can I Sit Next To You, Girl?"/"Rockin' In The Parlour" in 1974, but it was a very glam rock/platform boot style of music. Malcolm hated it, and as that was the direction that Dave wanted the band to head in, Malcolm sacked him. Dave took his platform boots with him and formed Rabbit, which lasted two albums, while AC/DC cranked up the amps and added Bon's working class swagger to the mix and the rest, as they say, is history...

Wall of Voodoo
Stan Ridgeway replaced by Andy Prieboy
Wall of Voodoo started out as a project for providing music for film soundtracks, started by Stan Ridgway. They eventually morphed into a band for a while and had one hit record in the US: "Mexican Radio". It was a bigger hit in the UK and Australia, but it was the last time they troubled the US charts. Most of the band had started to develop drug issues so Ridgeway left in 1983. The band got their act together and recruited vocalist Andy Prieboy for the big local hit single "Far Side of Crazy" and the album "Seven Days in Sammystown".

Manfred Mann's Earth Band
Mick Rogers replaced by Chris Thompson
Manfred Mann has had a long and convoluted career. His first eponymous pop band had two major lineups until 1969, when he changed direction into a heavy progressive jazz-rock sound as Manfred Mann Chapter Three, before settling in for the duration as Manfred Mann's Earth Band (by far the worst name of all of them). England-via-Australia guitarist Mick Rogers was stellar on the Earth Band's first 6 albums, but then he left for a solo career that went nowhere. In came Chris Thompson, who saw the band hit #1 in America with their version of Springsteen's "Blinded By The Light", but Mick's departure left such a void that another guitarist had to be drafted in. When Chris left in 1979, the Earth Band had a revolving door of vocalists that even saw Chris and Mick singing on some records over the intervening years, but as to who is the vocalist in the band today is anybody's guess. These days it could be any or all of the above!

Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne replaced by Ronnie James Dio
Replacing Ozzy in Black Sabbath was always going to be a hard task. Especially since, as soon as he left, his solo career took flight in a huge way, and this made it tough for his old band to compete. The band drafted in former Blackmore's Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio for two spirited albums, before a revolving door of vocalists ensured the band's fortunes were to decline for the rest of their career.

Faith No More
Chuck Moseley replaced by Mike Patton
Faith No More are a classic example of a band with a revolving door membership. The band went through no less than five vocalists before settling on Chuck, who lasted two albums before being fired for erratic behaviour, including falling asleep on stage during an album launch of their second LP "Introduce Yourself". Mike Patton joined, bringing with him his gonzo sense of humour and massive vocal range to make classic albums such as "The Real Thing" and "Angel Dust". Mike stayed with the band until their initial demise in 1998.

Neil Turbin replaced by Joey Belladonna
There seems to be a lot of conjecture about how Neil Turbin was ejected from Anthrax. Did he jump, or was he pushed? It is this writer's opinion that the band were better served by the vocal stylings of Joey Belladonna anyway, and I think that classic records like "Among The Living" and "Persistence of Time" would have been very different albums (and not for the better) had Neil still been in the band.

Check out all the before and after vocalists in the playlist below. Let us know of any we have forgotten.

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