Revolving Door of Musicians

Posted by on Jul 8, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

When I lived out west more than twenty years ago I used to win radio contests many times.  Not from being the correct caller but rather for knowing the answer to eighties’ questions as, from noon to 1:00 p.m. weekdays the station played nothing but 80’s music and would ask trivia questions from that particular period of time.  I won tickets to restaurants and even went and even K.C. from the Sunshine Band (despite the band having none of its original members) along with other items that are most likely accumulating dust in my bedroom.  Yet, as many times as I’ve tried winning on the radio some 2,000 miles away I just can’t.  The line’s either busy or I’m the wrong caller, often times one call away from being the winner.  But that all changed several weeks ago.  I was running some errands and had just parked in a spot when the deejay told listeners to be the twentieth caller.  After some failed attempts including being caller seventeen I won.  Finally I was the correct caller dammit!!!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  

 

My exuberance was immediately dashed; however, once I was informed they were tickets to go see STYX and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts due to the fact that without lead singer Dennis DeYoung there is no STYX.  Needless to say, or in this case write I didn’t attend the concert which was out of town but had the original singer been on stage with the rest of the members without a doubt I would have found a way to get there.  

 

I still can’t figure out how groups can replace their front man/woman and think they can go on as if nothing ever happened.  Hogwash!  Now in certain situations a member of a band such as the drummer or even lead guitarist will be substituted and many people won’t even realize it unless they’ve read, heard about it or saw it themselves but it really won’t make that much of a difference since the other members are still together.  But if the lead singer departs and someone else takes their place it’s never the same.  Ever.  

 

Take, for example, Journey.  From the moment they emerged Steve Perry epitomized Journey.  “Separate Ways,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” Open Arms” and the list goes on.  Steve Perry’s vocals were and still are superb but just as the case with Dennis DeYoung and STYX both singers had disputes with their groups, were ultimately booted out and were replaced with other singers who could simply never compare to their predecessors .  Now with Journey they went from having Steve Perry swapped out for not one but two singers one of whom happens to be Filipino.  F&ck that!  I’m sorry but while the dude can sing and possesses an uncanny similarity to Steve Perry’s vocals it’s just not the same.  The same goes for STYX.  “Mr. Roboto” is iconic and every time I hear the song it takes me back to the summer of 1983.  Dennis DeYoung performed it superbly so to have some other guy even attempt to try is a downright insult to STYX fans.  Tommy Shaw and James “J.Y.” Young who were two of the founding members are still with the group but honestly that doesn’t matter much since Dennis DeYoung is not.  So with that I didn’t think twice about going.  As for Joan Jett a couple of her songs were good but not good enough to drive more than an hour to see.

 

Another perfect example is 10,000 Maniacs.  Natalie Merchant along with the rest of the members made some of the greatest music ever.  The tempo of their songs wasn’t too fast nor too slow, they were perfect.  Whenever I hear a particular song such as “Trouble Me” it takes me back to wherever I was at that period of time and it’s almost nostalgic.  When I heard Natalie Merchant was leaving the group to pursue a solo career I was saddened because there will never be another group like them.  They did replace her with another singer but I didn’t even want to hear her since I relate 10,000 Maniacs to Natalie Merchant and I know I’m not alone.  You can’t have a terrific group thanks in part to the lead singer then have her or him leave and bring in someone else expecting the same results.  They shouldn’t have kept the name since people associate 10,000 Maniacs with Natalie Merchant.  But I guess that’s how things go in the music industry.  Why couldn’t she have just gone on hiatus while she worked on her solo album then simply resumed singing with the group later on as many other artists have? 

 

The one and only exception to this is Van Halen because while they started out with David Lee Roth and had humongous success with the album 1984 after he left for a solo career and Sammy Hagar took over lead vocals the group still had massive hit songs, toured and remained hugely popular.  That is until Sammy Hagar was no longer the lead singer.  Hence that pesky revolving door except in this unusual situation the original singer came back only it didn’t make a bit of difference since by that time nobody gave a damn.

 

Now let’s jump into modern times.  Maroon 5 has replaced a couple of members as well as added some to their lineup but the one thing that’s remained is the fact that Adam Levine has always been the lead singer.  In my opinion if the original lead singer gets replaced by someone else then the group shouldn’t continue to perform and/or tour under that moniker since it’s technically not the same group as it had been.  But due to legalities founding members who created the name of the band can change every single member if they choose to do so and still go by the same name.  It’s misleading to fans who are often times unaware of lineup changes and all around bullshit!   

 

Now I know why Atlantic Starr’s sixth album was appropriately titled As the Band Turns regarding the departure of the original lead singer Sharon Bryant.  The album really lives up to its name since five female singers have come and gone in the group. 

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