The last article on TAP, “If A Band Loses Its Soul, Are They Still That Band?“, the question arises about bands losing key members (Van Halen without Eddie van Halen, Led Zeppelin without Page, Be Bop Deluxe without Bill Nelson, etc.)

It’s easy to note the hint of hesitation here.  How does one discuss such an occurrence that is often considered subjective (?).  For example, one of our long-time readers mentioned the Steve Perry-less Journey and how they have succeeded without him, with Pineda as vocalist.  The point was made as the band has clearly moved on without the legacy singer in tow.  (Trust me, I’m not even a Journey fan…at all.  So I can’t get heated on this matter.  The ONLY Journey song I like is “When You Love A Woman”, their last hit with Perry.)  How does a band like Journey, who no longer have the popularity they once enjoyed (or do they?), survive the loss of such a golden voice?

Someone mentioned AC/DC without Bon Scott.  Cheap Trick without Rick Nielsen.  Pink Floyd without Syd Barrett, or Roger Waters.  J Geils Band without Peter Wolf.

I wonder if we should isolate some of these potentials or actual instances and discuss it that way.  I guess I’m just really intrigued at where this could go, discussion-wise.

So, let’s dig a little and see what really causes a fan separation when a key member leaves (however they do).   And let’s start with Journey.  And AC/DC.

Starting with Journey, what did Perry bring to the band, and what did he take with him when he left?  Did Pineda (or Augeri before him) bring a new edge to the band?  If so, why did the band try singers that sound so close to Perry’s style?  Why not recreate as Van Halen did with the introduction of Sammy Hagar, which proved very successful?

AC/DC.  Brian Johnson replaced the highly favored Bon Scott out of necessity.  And yet, rather than failing, they created an album (Back in Black) that ranked higher than any Scott-led AC/DC set.  How did AC/DC transition so effortlessly?

I’m fascinated.

By MARowe

12 thoughts on “How A Band Survives…Or Not.”
  1. IMO Journey was already on a downward trend when Perry left. They had already peaked (Escape was their zenith). While I liked some Journey songs a lot, I was never a huge fan so I had kind of dropped them before Perry left. I had no interest in checking them out with either new singer so I have no insights to offer.

    As for AC/DC, they were just hitting the mainstream and rising fast when Highway To Hell came out. Of course then everyone was going back and listening to their earlier albums which further raised their stature. Back In Black was AC/DC’s zenith and I’d swear that Bon Scott had a hand in some of those songs. Brian Johnson had instant success because the band had so much momentum. Once again, if you dismiss Back In Black and look at the albums that follow that momentum definitely waned.

  2. As far is Journey is concerned, they carried on with a style of music, rather than individual fan adoration for a particular person. Like Lover Boy and a host of others, their main goal was to fill arenas and stadiums, spin lots of top 40, and rake in huge bucks. Hey, that’s what the people want, so why not give it to them? When the music is the key, then you can interchange anyone as long as the sound appeals to your target. To hammer the point, after Santana created one of the greatest masterpieces in the 70s, Santana III, he wanted to pursue a jazzier route, along with John MacLaughlin, and Neal Schon and Greg Rollie decided to form Journey. The first two of those albums are psychedelic, hard rock bliss, but went nowhere sales-wise. So Schon chose the commercial route, and success was born.

  3. I agree that Journey peaked in the ’80’s, and really wouldn’t have continued as a hit-making machine into the ’90’s and beyond, with or without Perry. I actually like some of the pre and post Perry Journey, so for me, Neal Schon along with perhaps Jonathon Cain are the “core” of Journey. The singers they’ve had post Perry sound very much like him, and they’ve produced a very similar sound. In fact, my favorite Journey song is “Remember Me” from the Armageddon soundtrack, their first track with Steve Augeri.

    AC/DC is basically the same story as Van Halen, but under different circumstances. The band was at their peak in 1979/1980, when Highway To Hell came out, and Back In Black was a continuation of that. (Think 1984 and 5150 from Van Halen.) Also, like Van Halen, the core of the group is really the lead guitarist and his brother, along with input from the singer(s). Angus and Malcolm define AC/DC’s sound, and are the principal songwriters. So for me, Bon or Brian, it’s all good…

  4. I have just seen the Journey/Loverboy concert 2 weeks ago at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. This is probably one of the least entertaining shows that I have seen in my entire life. Arnel doesn’t have the showmanship that Perry had when Perry fronted Journey. No wonder my ticket was only $20 to sit at the very back. Even so….I would not even download a single new Journey song online….They suck!!! Loverboy played a much better show.

  5. I actually remember when Bon Scott died – and I remember buying the vinyl copy of Back In Black and thinking ‘WOW!’. AC/DC is {IMHO} better with Brian Johnson, but I think that is as much a result of the growth of the other members as much as anything else – I mean, look at any long surviving band – there is almost always a growth or maturation to their songwriting…. Then they peak and tread water for a while, which is where I think AC/DC and for that matter Journey are.

    When Perry forced Ross Vallory and Steve Smith out of Journey, the band changed. I saw them many times in their heyday, and having 2 hired guns on the Raised On Radio tour and the subsequent singer changes, left us with a shell of the ‘real’ band. I liked Steve Augeri, and thought the shows with him were well done – not the same, but well done. I am not nearly as thrilled with Pineda – it is passable from a nostalga standpoint, but not the same…. An earlier poster commented on how much better Loverboy was at a recent show – but look at them – most of the original band is intact {minus bassist Scott Smith}. They can probably still recreate ‘the magic’ to a certain extent. Ironically enough, I had a similar thought when I last saw Journey, with Night Ranger as the opening act – I thought Night Ranger {core intact} put on a much better show….

  6. Journey began as a progressive rock band, and with the addition of Steve Perry quickly adopted a more commercial sound. The Perry-led Journey peaked with Escape and Frontiers. Perry gained more control, being allowed to produce Raised on Radio. Three things happened:
    1. At Steve Perry’s insistence, Steve Smith and Ross Vallory were fired and replaced with studio musicians.
    2. Raised on Radio, which admittedly was full of great songs, sounded like a Steve Perry solo album.
    3. He broke Journey’s string of cool one-word album titles by changing the name from the original “Freedom”.
    In 1996, Perry wised up and brought Smith and Vallory back into the fold. The problem with Trial By Fire was that it had so many ballads!
    The remaining members of Journey were right to dump Perry and hire Steve Augeri. Augeri fronted the band the only time I’ve seen Journey in concert, and really enjoyed it. Arrival was a fine album, as was the Red 13 EP.
    With Augeri developing vocal problems, they were forced to replace him with Jeff Scott Soto to finish the tour, but I don’t think it was a good fit.
    Journey found Arnel Pineda on YouTube of all places, and I couldn’t imagine a better singer for them. Yes, he sounds a lot like Perry, but hiring someone with a drastically different vocal style rarely works out (except for Asia). Pineda really came into his own on the second album he recorded with Journey, 2011’s Eclipse. Eclipse is an epic hard rock album with shades of their prog rock roots, featuring powerful vocals, thought-provoking lyrics, and bno cheesy ballads!/b
    Unbelievably, Steve Perry still has a say in Journey’s output, which if I’m not mistaken even extends to albums he doesn’t appear on! Perry remastered the Greatest Hits Vol. 2 compilation, but don’t feel he was the right choice.

    AC/DC was forced to find a new lead singer just as they were hitting the big time, and the inexplicable happened: they released one of the greatest (and biggest-selling) albums of all-time!

  7. I think the case of AC/DC is unique. They were forced to replace Bon Scott and the stars aligned with the release of Back in Black. As far as Jouney, I saw and enjoyed Journey twice, both times with Steve Perry. Great shows. Selecting the current singer from YouTube has turned them into a nostalgia band, a Journey “tribute” band (and by tribute, I mean ripoff). Much like Kiss with the Ace Frehley and Peter Criss “replacements,” thanks, but I’ll pass.
    Would I like to see Perry back in Journey? Sure, but I also understand why Robert Plant is so reluctant to do a Zep reunion. Can you ever really recapture the magic? Aren’t most people going to end up disappointed? I am thinking of the last time I saw Elton John in concert and was so disappointed to hear all of his “classic” songs are now sung in a lower register because time marches on, sadly, and people and things change.

  8. Journey’s early-80’s heyday roughly coincided with my junior-high years, so naturally I was a big fan. I thought at the time that they lost their way in between “Frontiers” and “Raised on Radio,” and nothing much has changed that opinion since. The ’98 reunion album was a giant, steaming hunk of ill-conceived cheese. There have been a few listenable songs from the replacement singers, but overall their post-eighties material has been forgettable at best.

    It’s a shame they didn’t have the nerve to record an album with Jeff Scott Soto. Some of the songs he did with Schon in PlanetUS are quite good, but the “Journey company” figured it was too much of a risk to try and reinvent itself with Soto, preferring to remain a glorified nostalgia act with the sound-alikes. Too bad, really.

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