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15 Bands That Carried On With New Singers

Watch Motley Crue, Van Halen, Journey and others soldier on without their frontmen

Sammy Hagar; Van Halen; David Lee Roth; New Singer; 1985; 1986

Ebet Roberts/Getty, Brian Rasic/Getty

Stone Temple Pilots are hitting the road next month with Chester Bennington at the helm. Their new song "Out of Time" is doing OK on rock radio, but the odds are definitely against this working in the long run. For reasons that are very easy to understand, fans want to see bands play with their original lead singers. Bands including Genesis, AC/DC and Black Sabbath seamlessly brought in new singers, but many bands struggle through the process. Journey took decades to find Arnel Pineda, and they still aren't nearly as popular as they were during the Steve Perry days. Here's a look at 15 groups that bravely soldiered on without their frontman. Note: we aren't counting groups like the Doors, Alice In Chains and Blind Melon who hired a new singer after the original died.

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Genesis with Ray Wilson (1997-1998)

Genesis faced a tough decision when Phil Collins quit the band in 1996: carry on with a third lead singer or simply call it quits. It wasn't an easy call. They tested fate back in 1976 when they replaced Peter Gabriel with Phil Collins. It worked in a huge way, but there were no other great vocalists left in the band. They'd have to reach outside the group. Keyboardist Tony Banks was tempted to call it a day, but guitarist Mike Rutherford pushed for the group to continue. Their last tour packed stadiums all over the world. They felt they had enough momentum and fan loyalty to carry on with a reasonable amount of success. 

Banks and Rutherford brought in Scottish singer Ray Wilson, best known for his tenure in Stilltskin. The group were unknowns in America, but their 1994 single "Inside" was a minor hit in England. Genesis cut a new album entitled Calling All Stations. To say it was a commercial disappointment would be a gross understatement. Nobody bought it. Nobody cared. They had to cancel an American theater tour due to complete lack of interest. After a brief European tour they called it quits. Ray Wilson now plays Genesis, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins solo songs at clubs all over Europe. It's sad when the clear highlight of your career is the absolute low point for everyone else involved in the project. 

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Yes with Benoit David (2008-2011)

Yes planned on launching a massive anniversary tour in 2004, but were forced to call it off when frontman Jon Anderson became ill. They waited around a few years, but by 2008 they just couldn't wait any longer and they recruited Benoit David, lead singer of the Canadian Yes tribute band Close to the Edge. It meant playing slightly smaller venues than normal, but they made it up by playing a ridiculous amount of shows a year. With Anderson out of the equation they were free to become workhorses again. The pace proved too much for David, who eventually bowed out after experiencing voice troubles. That wasn't going to stop Yes. They recruited a new guy named Jon Davison and carried on like nothing happened. Nothing stops the Yes train. Nothing. 

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Foreigner with Kelly Hansen (2005-present)

Foreigner had a lot more hits than people realize. In a relatively short period the band landed on the charts with "Feels Like the First Time," "Cold as Ice," "Double Vision, "Juke Box Hero," "Waiting For a Girl Like You," "Urgent" and "I Want to Know What Love Is." They aren't the best looking guys and they didn't fare well in the MTV world, but they still had enough famous songs to tour until the end of time. The only problem was that guitarist Mick Jones and singer Lou Gramm didn't get along very well. Gramm left in the late Eighties, but the group's new singer, Johnny Edwards, didn't connect with fans. Gramm came back in 1992, but five years later he had a brain tumor removed. Believe it or not, one of his symptoms was double vision.

Gramm was never the same after he recovered from the surgery. He gained a lot of weight and his voice just wasn't there anymore. He left in 2003, and Mick Jones brought in Kelly Hansen. He doesn't sound much like Gramm, but he has a very strong voice and a nice stage presence. Mick Jones is the only original member still in the band, but thankfully for him most rock fans don't recognize the name Lou Gramm. They were always a faceless band, and the crowds are more than happy to hear Hansen sing the old hits. 

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Styx with Lawrence Gowan (1999 – present)

Singer Dennis DeYoung and guitarist Tommy Shaw had very different visions for Styx. DeYoung liked gentle songs like "Lady" and "Babe," while Shaw liked harder-edged material like "Renegade" and "Too Much Time on My Hands." They also had personal issues that became very hard to tolerate while on the road supporting DeYoung's robot rock opera Kilroy Was Here in 1983. They split when the tour was done, though they inevitably reformed in 1996 for a big comeback tour. Tickets sold quite well, but when DeYoung' illness delayed a tour in 1999 they decided to carry on without him. Lawrence Gowan was brought into the band, and they still tour at a relentless pace. DeYoung wants back in the band, but Shaw has been very clear that's never going to happen. 

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Creedence Clearwater Revisited with John Tristao

Creedence Clearwater Revival released some of the greatest rock songs in history during their extremely short run, 1968 to 1972. Things got very ugly towards the end. John Fogerty's brother Tom left the band, and their final LP, Mardi Gras, featured drummer Doug Clifford and bassist Stu Clifford taking the reins of the band. They were sick of being John Fogerty's backing band, but with all due respect, they just didn't have the songwriting or singing chops to carry an album. They split up soon afterwards, and when John Fogerty refused to play with them at the 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions Doug and Stu decided to hit the road as Creedence Clearwater Revisited. They were 2/3rds of the surviving band (Tom Fogerty died in 1990), so they felt they were entitled to 2/3rds of the name. John Fogerty didn't agree and the matter went to court. Doug and Stu ultimately won, and they tour to this day with John Tristao on lead vocals. (Strangely enough, Cars guitarist Elliot Easton spent many years in the group.)

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The New Cars

Imagine the frustration of being a member of the Cars. You have this huge catalog of beloved songs, but frontman Ric Ocasek has absolutely no interest in reforming the band for a tour. In 2006, the group grew tired of waiting and brought in Todd Rundgren for a summer co-headlining tour with Blondie. It didn't go well. It ended prematurely when gutiarist Elliot Easton broke his collarbone, but by that point it was clear the public didn't want the New Cars. They wanted the old Cars. Their wish came true in 2011 when Ocasek changed his mind and returned for a new album and tour. The only problem was that Ocasek only agreed to play 10 theater dates and Lollapalooza. The whole thing was over in the blink of an eye, and now there seems to be no Cars – new or old. 

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Iron Maiden with Blaze Bayley (1994-1998)

Bruce Dickinson wasn't the first lead singer of Iron Maiden. That honor goes to the long-forgotten Paul Day, who split the band in 1976, long before they cut their first album. He was replaced by Paul Di'Anno, who logged three years in the band and split after the release of their 1981 album Killers. Then came the beloved Bruce Dickinson. His soaring voice won the band a huge following and he carried them through their initial stadium era, but he left for a solo career in 1993. So the band brought in former Wolfsbane singer Blaze Bayley. They cut two albums with the guy, but he didn't sound much like Dickinson and fans never really warmed up to him. Dickinson came back in 1999 and he's been there ever since. Blaze now tours on his own, sometimes with Paul Di'Anno. They do an Iron Maiden-heavy set and sell a fair amount of tickets in Europe. 

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Fleetwood Mac with Bekka Bramlett (1993-1995)

Fleetwood Mac hit a low point in 1993. Earlier that year the Rumours lineup reformed to play Bill Clinton's inaugural bash, but old tensions remained and they didn't bring the show on the road. Instead, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie brought in 25-year-old Bekka Bramlett, daughter of Delaney and Bonnie. Her job was to essentially play Stevie Nicks, and guitarist Billy Burnette played the Lindsey Buckingham role. It looked like a tribute band featuring two original members, and they found themselves in the pretty humiliating position of opening up for REO Speedwagon. By this point, the Eagles were making a large fortune on the reunion circuit, so in 1996 the entire classic lineup came back, meaning it was curtains for Bekka and Billy. 

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Judas Priest with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens (1996 – 2003)

The 2001 Mark Wahlberg/Jennifer Aniston movie Rock Star makes it all seem so easy. In the movie, Eighties hair metal band Steel Dragon fires their lead singer and brings in Mark Wahlberg, who was the frontman of a Steel Dragon cover band. His entry into the band is seamless. The group is still playing arenas, and few fans seem to care someone else is behind the mic. The story is very, very loosely based on the real story of Tim "Ripper" Owens. He was the lead singer of an Ohio-based Judas Priest tribute band who became part of the real thing when Rob Halford quit in 1991. The new Priest cut two albums and worked their asses off on the road, but without Halford they were a club band. The whole thing was a long and difficult slog, and extremely unglamorous. Halford came back in 2003 and Ripper was tossed to the side like a bag of moldy tangerines.