So many bands in the world.  With the wealth of bands, both current and past, it’s easy to find plenty of music.  Eventually, you get favorites.  You grow with the band.  And maybe you already have a whole list of bands that you’re quite familiar with.

But oftentimes, band members get into these things called disagreements.  Yeah, we all do it, sometimes with catastrophic results.  While many of us have a sphere of impact that encompasses a few people (we won’t discuss the severity of some of these results), a band spat in potentially affect millions.  Which brings me to the core of this particular discussion platform, how adversely are some bands impacted?  Or, more simply, which bands can survive the loss of a member with a simple replacement, and which changes the whole things, AND, which losses destroy the integrity of a band making them too drastically different?

There are some obvious examples that we won’t even discuss.  For example, what’s the point of discussing a Bruce Springsteen band without Bruce Springsteen?  Or, The Beatles without any of the Fab Four, or The Stones without Mick Jagger, and/or Keith Richards.  Or The Who without Roger Daltrey, and/or Pete Townshend, or Rush without Geddy Lee.  These are the obvious choices.

But some big bands have had to make changes.  Yes, without Jon Anderson for the most part.  Journey without Steve Perry.  It would seem that the soul gets sucked away from the band due to these losses.  And as inconceivable as they seem, they happened.  And most of us have not accepted some of those changes.

And then there are the bands that anything could happen to.  They just seem to survive well.  Several iterations of Deep Purple fall into this category.  A few versions of Black Sabbath, and two well-received versions of Van Halen.

Of course, most losses are devastating.  An obscure example is Be-Bop Deluxe without Bill Nelson.  Would it still be Be-Bop Deluxe if the band replaced his musicianship?  Interesting thought.

There are literally thousands of bands that we could discuss, some big.  But, for today, let’s discuss a band, any band, in the comment sections, that would falter with the replacement of a member.  Could Rush work if Lifeson were replaced?  Neil Peart?

Your turn.

By MARowe

14 thoughts on “If A Band Loses Its Soul, Are They Still That Band?”
  1. INXS struggled on for years after Michael Hutchence’s death but (in my opinion) they never came close to to what they were with Michael Hutchence out front. Sort of like The Doors without Jim Morrison.

  2. I’m not sure I can play this game. It’s too subjective. Any band can “survive” losing any member. Any band can continue. There will be some fans that accept it and many more that won’t. So before we can play this game you need to define what losing you soul means.
    As an example, IMO, if you threw “Back In Black” out, AC/DC died for me with Bon Scott. I have a few of the Brian Johnson era cds but rarely when I am in the mood to listen to AC/DC do I pull out a post Back In Black album.
    As for Rush, I think we already know the answer. When Neil Peart lost his wife and daughter the other two didn’t seek out a new drummer, they just shelved the band. If there is any group that will retire once one of the members can no longer carry on it is Rush.
    That’s about all I can say on this topic.

  3. Obviously Porcupine Tree without Steven Wilson just wouldn’t work, as he is not only lead instrumentalist, lead singer, but also main songwritter. John Wesley may be able to pick up 1 and 2, but judging his records, not too great in 3.
    Spocks Beard without Neil Morse worked for a time (with Nick de Virgilio), but seem to have slipped off the pace with the last record.
    Genesis without Peter Gabriel worked on and off (We can’t dance was as good in a different way as Selling England by the Pound).
    I mainly know post Fish Marillion other than the Best of Both Worlds, where both singers shine.
    I like the new Yes without Jon Andersen, so in some cases it can go on as sucessfully as before, but mostly not. ELP without Emerson anyone?

  4. Lots of 80’s bands didn’t fare too well with front man leaving.

    Even though I liked it the Echo and the Bunnymen album without Ian McCulloch (Reverberation) was widely considered a failure and when Ian came back the spark was gone. They never really recovered.

    Bauhaus’ last record was largely recorded without Peter Murphy but he was on it enough so that most people didn’t notice at the time. When Peter left the band officially the other three guys still wanted to work together but were wise enough to change their name to Love and Rockets. You could argue they did better without him.

    And thank the Gods that Jane’s Addiction was patient enough to allow Perry Farrell to have his various other 90’s bands and not try to release anything under that name while he was away.

  5. Steve Perry made Journey great, but he also ruined them. 2011’s “Eclipse” was phenomenal. Arnel Pineda will make you say “Steve Who?”.

    1. Agree 100%. Arnel’s vocals and energy on both of the albums featuring him are excellent. Eclipse is exactly the kind of album Journey should have been making for the last 15+ years.

  6. Pink Floyd survived without Syd Barrett (everything from Saucerful through Wish You Were Here is SUPERB), collapsed when Roger Waters went on power trip (Animals, The Wall and The Final Cut) which led to Waters ousting Richard Wright during the mixing of The Wall and gave us the boring The Final Cut. Came back when David Gilmour took over after Roger quit and Gilmour reinstated Wright and got Nick Mason back to drumming like his old self (though Momentary Lapse had little glimpses of Nick Mason and Wright but the MLoR songs were better live on Delicate Sound of Thunder as Gilmour, Mason and Wright were playing like a band again which led to the brilliant swan song The Division Bell and superb offshoot live disc PULSE). Pink Floyd officially ended in 2008 when Richard Wright passed away (though they had been on ice due to Gilmour and his wife having three kids from 1995 on). Gilmour says Wright is irreplaceable (the only album without Wright was also their weakest, 1983’s The Final Cut (which was really a Roger Waters solo album in all but name)).

    Genesis survived superbly when Anthony Phillips quit (all from Nursery Cryme on was great), also when Peter Gabriel and then Steve Hackett jumped ship but died when Phil Collins left and was replaced by Ray Wilson.

    Queen without Freddie Mercury and John Deacon is not Queen.

    Styx replacing Dennis DeYoung was blasphemy (replacing Tommy Shaw didn’t really hurt them, in fact Glen Burtnik did great filling in Shaw’s shoes but replacing DDY with the lovechild of Chris DeBurgh and David Coverdale called Larry Gowan was the death of Styx, for me).

    KISS forging on without Peter Criss and Ace Frehley saved them.

    Iron Maiden almost died when Blaze Bayley replaced Bruce Dickinson.

    Judas Priest without Rob Halford was sacrilege.

    Black Sabbath without Geezer Butler was awful (Ozzy leaving saved them and Bill Ward’s departure led to some great drummers filling the rostrum).

  7. I think bands have a one-album-test to see if they can weather the loss of a key member. If it’s good and they can forge ahead, they’re fine. If it isn’t, they’re done. I can think of two examples not previously mentioned.

    First, The J. Geils Band without Peter Wolf. You may not have been a huge fan of Love Stinks or Freeze-Frame, but they were still at least The J. Geils Band. Then came You’re Getting Even Etc. They were dead.

    Second, The Pogues without Shane MacGowan. Which is a bit odd since they’d already done several stellar songs that Shane had nothing to do with (Lorelei, for instance). And several with Shane on Hell’s Ditch that weren’t up to their usual standards. But the totally Shane-less album Waiting For Herb was dreadful.

  8. Very apropos that you should include a picture of Pete with this article — having seen The Who both before and after Keith Moon died, I can tell you there was a huge difference. Now that Entwhistle is gone as well, I think it’s a bit of a travesty for them to even call themselves The Who, but I suppose that’s their business (literally) if they want to.

    And, for what it’s worth, I think the soul left the Rolling Stones when Bill Wyman decided to pack it in, back in the 90s.

  9. I agree with a whole lot of these comments, specifically:

    Rush without any of it’s members, Genesis and AC/DC surviving/succeeding with lead vocalist changes, Kiss losing Ace/Peter probably did save them, Maiden without Bruce is definitely NOT Maiden, Yes is NOT Yes without Jon Anderson, although I can see the Howe/Rabin debate, and Marillion w/o Fish are still good, etc. But what about these other bands:

    Foreigner – OK, not the BIGGEST band of the late 70’s-early 80’s, but Jeez – they only have one guy left [founder Mick Jones} and he was not even with them when I saw them last {he was out for several dates while the band was opening for Journey, ironically enough} – so you have a band playing with NO original or ‘glory days’ members…. COMPLETELY unacceptable.

    Some more bands that are down to one or no original or ‘glory days’ members – and NONE of these should be touring/recording, in my opinion – they should be ashamed at the cash grab tactics: Molly Hatchet, Foghat, Outlaws, Thin Lizzy, Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker Band,

    Bands that really blew it trying to replace a key member or members: QUEEN, THE DOORS {you should both be thoroughly ASHAMED!}, Supertramp {not quite as bad as the previous two, but close}, Bad Company was a joke without Paul Rodgers, ELO – strangely enough, Jeff Lynne was the heart of that band, but he could make it work without the rest of the gang, Jefferson Starship {at least when Airplane died, they made a new band with a name change, but don’t even get me started on what losing Balin did to that band}, Boston, Guns n’ Roses

    And the list of the current bands that did OK, but just aren’t the same: ABB without Dickie Betts, Kansas without Kerry Livgren, Fleetwood Mac without Christine McVie, Pretenders, Little Feat, Chicago, Deep Purple {so many incarnations, but no one can out do the ‘classic’ line up}, REO without Richrath

    OK – maybe a little too many bands listed, but I think that most of us cling to a spirit of nostalga {I do too} which allows these bands to keep on going, but it is never the same….

    Special kudos to Led Zeppelin, Bee Gees and, Rush who when faced with the loss of key members, said ‘we’re done’. I really appreciate that integrity, and was glad that circumstances brought Rush back and allowd Zep to do a meaningful one time thing. Thanks for reading….

  10. KISS is not the powerhouse band now as the original lineup. Every guitarist that was replaced will never capture the showmanship as Ace did for the band. Criss is another.

    Gene and Paul should have taken the make-up off since their departure. And created a circus band together.

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