December 14, 2009

Make it Or Break it Members of the Band...

My sister and I got in a discussion about bands that don't survive if one of the key members leaves (for whatever reason).

Some bands try to keep going, others don't.  Typically the lead vocalist carries the make it or break it factor, but not always.  Please feel free to add to this list, disagree or admit that I am right about all of these :)  Obviously some of these bands are still together so this is just speculation.

- The Doors - obviously Jim Morrison was The Doors

- Heart with either Ann or Nancy missing would never be the same.

- The Rolling Stones without Mick?  Hmmmm, no.

- The Who - these guys thought they could go on without Keith, then without Keith or John.  I think they should have quit while they were ahead.  Could they survive without Roger or Pete?  No.

- Led Zeppelin - they honored the fact that Zeppelin was all four of them, so with class and respect they laid the band to rest when John died.  Could it have survived without him?  Yes, but it never would have been as good.

-AC/DC is an example of a band that still did well after losing the lead vocalist, Bon Scott.  Brian Johnson was a great replacement.  But would they have survived without Angus?

-Pink Floyd.  I don't even know what to say about this complicated band, but they are one of my favorites.

-The Pretenders minus Chrissie Hynde = some talented musicians looking for a  new job.

- Kiss without Gene Simmons - eh, I don't really care.

- INXS was nothing, without Michael. Nothing.

- How about the Beatles?  I don't think they would have got by without John or Paul, but if those two stuck together I think Ringo or George could have been replaced.  Don't get me wrong, I love Ringo and George, and I'm glad that didn't happen.

- Aerosmith without Steven Tyler is a no go.  But they should have hung it up years ago.

- Journey tried it without Steve Perry, but in my opinion failed.

- Ok what about Rush?  I don't think they could get by if they replaced any one of them.

- Van Halen.  This is the only band I can think of that actually maintained, or possibly surpassed, their level of success after losing a very prominent lead vocalist.  Way to go Sammy!    (Personally I have to admit, I liked the DLR era better).  But then again, Van Halen is all about Eddie, and it should be.



Charlie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Perplexio said...

Chicago replaced Peter Cetera with Jason Scheff and while they did have some initial success after he left it was never quite the same and their post-Cetera success was minimal compared to their success when he was still in the band.

Queen realized they'd never really be Queen again without Freddie. Although, I like that they got Paul Rodgers to sing with them and I like how "Queen featuring Paul Rodgers" sounds. But I wish they'd come up with a new name.

Incidentally the Doors did release 2 albums after Jim Morrison died. I believe Ray Manzarek handled most of the vocals on the 2-post Morrison Doors albums.

REO Speedwagon has been through 3 different lead singers-- Terry Luttrell first, then Kevin Cronin, then Michael Murphy, then Kevin Cronin again. No one seems to remember the Murphy or Luttrell years these days though. The only remaining original member of REO is keyboardist Neal Doughty. I'd argue REO trying to soldier on without guitarist Gary Richrath was a mistake. The band was able to maintain success with a change in bass player and later a change in drummer when Greg Philbin and Alan Gratzer were fired/retired respectively... But the band never had the same level of success after Richrath's departure.

On the flipside there are bands that didn't see success until AFTER some personnel changes... Fleetwood Mac had a small but respectable following before Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined. Then BAM they were a f***ing juggernaut!

Journey was largely a prog-rock group prone to long meandering instrumentals before Steve Perry.

And while Pink Floyd was successful with Syd Barrett in the band, their success with David Gilmour eclipsed the success they'd had with Barrett. While I enjoy the 2 Pink Floyd albums WITHOUT Roger Waters. I have to admit they aren't as good as all of the albums released WITH him in the band.

And lastly Genesis. They didn't start to achieve success until the departures of Anthony Phillips and John Mayhew and arrivals of Steve Hackett and Phil Collins. And if anything Genesis was far more commercially successful after the departure of Peter Gabriel and later Steve Hackett than before. But personally I prefer the albums prior to Steve Hackett's departure.

Charlie said...

The James Gang replaced Joe Walsh but it was never the same. He was The James Gang. Also, hard to picture The Clash without Joe Strummer.

Barbara aka Layla said...

Perplex, you're such an encyclopedia kinda guy. Queen knew better than to try and replace Freddy so I really like how they did that with Paul R (great vocalist). As for The Doors post-Jim albums...I forgot about those, which proves the point. Most people did.

Charlie - EXCELLENT additions. I miss Joe Strummer :(

The Girl with the Rudolph Nose said...

I miss Freddie! I would go to a Queen concert with any singer really... just because I love their music, and Brian's guitar will always enchant me. But what would I give to hear Freddie live...

Dr. Deb said...

You are SO right about this!

Jessica said...

You are totally correct with all of these! :) I am very upset about Aerosmith...I feel like Joe Perry is making this a deal...they just need to break up, and not even attempt a new singer.

Sean Coleman said...

Couldn't imagine the Beatles without George or Ringo. Irreplaceable in so many ways.

The Dio era Sabbath releases after Ozzy were quite good.

The Who became a pop band after Keith died.

The Playboys without Gary Lewis? Who gives a f*@k?!?

classicrockforthesoul said...

Perplexio: "Fleetwood Mac had a small but respectable following before Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined. Then BAM they were a f***ing juggernaut!"


I agree with the majority of what's been said and don't really have anything to add. Great lists, everybody!

bearockr said...

That's really a wonderful list you came up with barb...

You are damn right about Rush, All the 3 members are like so much perfect in their instruments, The band is like a dream to watch together !

Then, Black sabbath have done well too w/o Ozzy, but I prefer to listen to them with Ozzy !

About Queen, I think that Freddie was the life of the band... It was a joy to watch him in a live concert, and that coupled with excellent Guitar riffs by Brian May was totally magnificent, but though I still love watching Queen, but the real magic ain't there ...

Then, there this band Guns n Roses, which also had a break-up, and actually imagining them w/o Slash is quite difficult !

I also agree with Perplexio about Pink floyd ...

Great list after all, Barbara !

Guitarman5150 said...

Wow so many good ones brought up. Great idea!

The Doors are nothing with out Morrison I agree. He was the heart and soul of that group.

Heart,they are a great bunch of musicans within themselves but with out Ann & Nancy they are just that a great bunch of musicans. Ann, Nancy and the songs they brought with them are what make up Heart.

The Stones. Boy has that band have members come and go. Mick is the face of the stones. HELLO look at their long time logo The BIG lips and tounge! They just didn't one day pull that out of the hat! I'll give ya one guess where they got that one from! Times UP!

The Who, one of my all time favorite 60's bands. The were great. When Keith died they did what they thought was right and I respect them for it. Years later they dicided to reform. I thought that was great! Now that John is dead as well. It's become the Rodger and Pete show. I think it's time to retire the name The Who. If you still want to work together that's fine but The Who is over let's respect The Who for what it is and not go any further with that one OK.

Led Zeppelin. Now we are talking big dogs of rock. They are what it's all about. The kings. I understand doing what they did after Bonzo died and respected that. Enough time god knows has passed now that I would think you could put this train back on the tracks and give the fans what they want! Are we gonna wait until another one of them dies?? They have done it twice and one time not that long ago. I'm sure they could at least give us a live album..... Cream did!

AD/DC what a band. When Bon Scott died it was very sad. I thought that was the end really. It wasn't aren't we all glad? They brought in Brian Johnson and released Back In Black. One of the greatest selling albums of all time. And kept that band going until this day!

The Beatles. What can you say about them that hasn't already been said. Yes I think they made the right desision. After the split there could have been at some point(had John lived) a reunion. With him dying like he did it was best not to and I understand every reason they didn't. Although I did like the way they did the 2 songs on the Anthology.

Aerosmith I haven't heard the latest on that, so I can't really speak on it. Last it heard it was kinda off and on. Yes he was in no he was out. So I think it would be a mistake for them to tour without Steven. That's my take.

Rush, you can't replace any of those guys. They are too important a band to lose any of the members.

Van Halen ahhhh Van Halen the great debate. 20 + years later people will still fight over this one. Who's better, who's best? Who cares? It's great rock enjoy it! I love both eras of that band. I think to discriminate over the two singers in this band is foolish. to quote Gene Simmons, "Why can't you have steak and cheesecake?" Or Poundcake as the case may be! LOL!

Black Sabbath another great band. Love them with The Oz. Great with Dio. I do like Ronnie better on his own. That's just me though.
Holy Diver is an album that will always be above the rest of anything Ronnie ever does.

Guns & Roses boy there's a mess. What I still find amusing to this day is the band left and formed Velvet Revolver around another singer and Axl was left standing around by himself!! So sometimes it goes to show you that a lead singer or one person dosen't always make or break a band.

Queen, first off there will never be another Fredie. The man had the pipes the ability and the stage presence. Like the others have said the band has carried on I think in some ways that is a good thing. Paul Rodgers is working with them they all get to go on the road and carry on. I did think when George Michael played with them years ago he was the closest sound to Freddie. As long as Brian and the guys are happy with what they are doing then let them do it.

Perplexio said...

Just thought of one more... Supertramp. Without Roger Hodgson they had one hit (Cannonball) but why did they even bother? Other than their first 2 albums (the ones recorded before Crime of the Century) the material with Hodgson was and still is so much stronger than the material they released after his departure. To his credit he's released a couple solid (and one mediocre) studio albums since his departure from Supertramp.

Perplexio said...

Toto did similar with Simon Phillips to what Queen did with Paul Rodgers. They knew they couldn't replace Jeff Porcaro so rather than try to replace Jeff with a similar drummer, they found another well established drummer with a style all his own, Simon Phillips. I'm still bummed Toto split up, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to see them live once before they pulled the plug.

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Bond said...

Barbara, you knew I had to go to these two...

Allman Brothers - lost Duane and carried on with Chuck Levell...Lost Berry and kept on with a couple of different replacements...added Warren to join Dickie...threw Dickie out added Derek as strong as ever..

GRATEFUL DEAD - pretty much ended when Jerry died, but they are still around in various forms...but only as THE DEAD...

Anonymous said...

Just one of my many favorite bands - Fleetwood Mac IMHO Stevie Nicks made the band.

The Beatles - An amazing amount of material in just a few years. McCartney & Lennon were the band but George Harrison was underrated.

Anonymous said...

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musicobsessive said...

Another band that is hard to evaluate is Yes. Do we look at Yes with/without Wakeman? With/without Anderson (Buggles anyone?) or with/without Howe? Each configuration had some success but there will always be fans that only look at the original line up...excepy maybe without Kaye. You see, it's so hard to tell.

I posted on a similar theme a few months back (see when I suggested that it should be a musicians union rule that a band without ANY founder members should be required to change their name.

rishabh said...

Frankly for me lyrics got too simple and straight and the 'progressive rock' in floyd kinda subsided after 'piper at the gate of dawn' and 'saucerfull of secrets' ..i mean interstellar overdrive,octopus was peak for floyd's 'progressive rock' or psychedelic rock..both of the above albums marked barrett leaving floyd..

rishabh said...

and oh yea..guns and roses without slash..i dont think so :)

Fragrant Liar said...

Totally disagree on Journey. There's nobody like Steve Perry, but Arnel Pineda ROCKS the HOUSE! I saw them in concert about three months ago (for my birthday), and they really did do their old style justice.

Mark said...

Motley Crue without Vince Neil was always doomed to failure IMO. Good job they saw sense and recognized where the money was in addition to Tommy Lee's obvious world-class talent on the skins.

Saxon without Biff Byford is never going to work. In fact, I think every other member has come and gone except him and still they roll on ( and getting better IMO ).

Motorhead without Lemmy ? Ahem, I don't think so.

Iron Maiden seemed to do much better after Bruce Dickinson joined, then took a dive after he left, then came back with a vengeance when they kissed and made up. So there's one band that got better after replacing the original front-man, then got worse, then got better again. Off-topic perhaps, but interesting nonetheless.

Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott isn't. They've tried to continue but what's the point ? His charisma on stage was mesmerizing.

And what about the breaking news that Chris Cornell is getting back together with Soundgarden !!! Now that is great news to start 2010 with.

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