While scouring the internet looking for something to write about, I ran across a blog that sparked my interest: The Singers Who Didn’t Quite Work Out (www.classicrockmagazine.com/blog). Line up changes are a never ending constant in the world of rock & roll, but the loss of a lead singer is often detrimental and hard to come back from. The contributors of the blog had great suggestions and some that I didn’t even think of. Of course this got me thinking, so here is my list.
1. Gary Cherone and Van Halen – This was also the first one listed on ClassicRockMagazine.com’s list, and I mentioned it on a previous post for the moment Van Halen jumped the shark. It was just a weird combination that didn’t work well or fit naturally.
2. John Corabi and Motley Crue – I think everyone agrees that John Corabi did a fine job on the Motley Crue album but it still didn’t work. Why? The band sounded great, but it just wasn’t Motley Crue. One of the major distinctions in Motley Crue’s sound is Vince Neil’s voice. Without it, it’s not Motley Crue. The fans and record label realized that. I’m not saying that John Corabi sucked at all. If they would have slapped a different name on that album, it would have worked.
3. All Singers and Journey – I don’t care how much you sound like Steve Perry…you’re not Steve Perry.
4. Ripper Owens and Judas Priest – Please see explanation for #3. He’s not Rob Halford.
It’s not always all bad. There are a few bands that have actually stood the test of time with a new singer.
1. Brian Johnson and AC/DC – After the tragic death of Bon Scott, I’m sure it was difficult for anyone to think that AC/DC could go on without him. Thankfully, the band took the bold step and replaced him with Brian Johnson, and they lived happily ever after. This is probably the best success story of them all.
2. Johnny Van Zant & Lynyrd Skynyrd – Like AC/DC, it was death that brought a new lead singer to Skynyrd. A 1977 plane crash took the lives of six people, including Skynyrd’s singer, Ronnie Van Zant. About 10 years later, Ronnie’s brother, Johnny, stepped up to take over the the lead singer spot and Skynyrd’s been rocking ever since.
God knows I’ve missed some on each list, and there were others whom I didn’t know where to place (ex: Johnny Solinger and Skid Row). Replacing a singer is a ballsy move for any band. In the end, it’s usually the fans who decide if it’s a hit or a miss. So how do you feel? Who didn’t work and who did?