15 Bands That Carried On With New Singers – Rolling Stone
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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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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. 

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