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 411mania » Music » Columns

The 411 Music Top Five 06.19.13: Top 5 Replacement Band Members
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 06.19.2013


Criteria: A band's lineup is a delicate thing. The proper ingrediants mixed together in just the right doses can all fall apart if the chemistry isn't right, and conversely there are times when the right group dynamic can make a good band truly great. This week, the idea was to look at the times when changing one band member for another resulted in a positive change for the band.

Honorable Mention:
Robert Lowe (Candlemass): When Messiah Marcolin left Candlemass for the final time, the singer for underground doom legends Solitude Aeturnus stepped in for their final three albums and did a great job. Carrying on the Candlemass legacy for almost 6 years.

Adrian Smith/Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson): Bruce Dickinson's solo band was mainly a hard rock project for Bruce to do something different. After his 1996 album, 'Skunkworks', this guitar duo came in and brought an old school metal sound that made the rest of his album soar.

Joey Belladonna (Anthrax): Neil Turban only had one album with Anthrax, but that album got their foot in the door. After Joey Belladonna showed up in the band, the burst through that door, and cemented themselves as one of the foremost thrash bands, and after he came back, they're back to being in that slot again.

5. Marty Friedman (Megadeth)

When you look at the list of people that auditioned for the job in Megadeth, it's a who's who list of great guitarist of the time as well as of the future. You have names like Criss Oliva (he was offered the job), Jeff Loomis, and Dimebag Darrell (who wouldn't go without Vinnie Paul) who were offered the job. Finally, Marty Friedman took the job after Jeff Young left the band. It was the best choice that they could have made, he was fresh, and full of great ideas, and once he was teamed up with a sober Dave Mustaine, one of the greatest albums of all time was hatched, "Rust in Peace". He continued to be the bright point of the next 4 Megadeth albums no matter how bad the albums may have gotten (which I like all 4 albums, that's right, EVEN RISK), he eventually left after 'Risk', but I would say that in terms of guitar work, he is the measuring stick that every Megadeth guitarist since has been put against, and it's a hard bar to hop over.

4. Phil Anselmo (Pantera)

I'm sure everyone saw this coming eventually, because I know Pantera wants you to forget about it, but 'Cowboys From Hell' wasn't their first album, and I know the fine readers of this column know that, because they know of Glamtera, based off of the Top 5 Hair metal bands list. Phil Anselmo joined the band for the last album of the Glamtera stage of Pantera, and he killed it on that album. After that, we all know how it went, his vocals slowly started getting lower as he slipped further into addiction, but he always brought something great to the table, and I really can't see any incarnation of a future Pantera without him (or Dime, Vinnie, or Rex for that matter). The dude really left a resounding note on a lot of vocalists, and with his style he helped forge new paths for other vocalists with that gravely tone that he has. The Pantera we know about now wouldn't have been possible without him, and I thank him for his service.

3. Matt Barlow (Iced Earth)

This is another guy that I had no idea he wasn't the first vocalist for the band, because he's the one that a lot of the fans associate with the band, and I know that I personally do. Gene Adam and John Greely did great jobs as the vocalists for Iced Earth on the albums that they were on, but once Matt Barlow was at the microphone, it was hard to look back. He has a very deep and rich voice that help convey emotion quite well, but he isn't just relegated to the lower range of the scale, oh no, he has high notes in him, too, and he uses them well. He was with the band for four albums in his initial run, and returned for one album that was doomed from the start. I adore his vocal capabilities, and I feel like if it weren't him on the albums like 'Burnt Offerings' or 'The Dark Saga', they would suffer greatly, because he was the carrying force for those albums, without a doubt. He has a new band now, but his time is Iced Earth was so good that people are still comparing him to the current singer, Stu Block, who is awesome! But regardless, just listen to the song I'm listing below and tell me he doesn't bring forth the emotions from the microphone to your soul.

2. Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)

This situation is like the one from the honorable mentions with Anthrax, the first singer for Iron Maiden, Paul Di'Anno was a damn fine singer, and he managed to get them through the door and help them make a name for themselves. But in comes Bruce Bruce himself of Samson fame. He managed to get them to icon status with the albums that he did with them, including his debut with them, 'The Number of The Beast', and the albums only got better, every single album that followed was even better and better, with it all culminating in the excellent, 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son', then plummeting from the realms of the gods with, 'No Prayer for the Dying'. Those last 2 albums were a bit rough, and Bruce was replaced with Blaze Bayley, and the band turned into a dark art metal project, and Blaze gets bashed for not being Bruce, blah blah blah. But in comes Bruce, and everything is back to normal, he brings back Adrian Smith, and they are back to being the Iron Maiden we know and love, so he is the double replacement singer. Both times, they shot into superstardom, and I am so happy that he is still with them. The "Air Raid Siren" still sound really good, and if he can be with them until the end of time, I will be a happy man!

1. Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath)

This has to be everyone's number one, right? Right, Jeremy, it's your number one, too, right? This man is one of THE best singers in heavy metal, not to mention in just music in general. He brought Black Sabbath back from the crypt that they were in after a drug addled Ozzy stumbled out of the band after 2 mediocre albums. They came back from the dead with one of the greatest albums in metal, not to mention in just music in general (who am I kidding, the best metal albums are the best albums in general). Anyways, he didn't stay in the band two long, he clashed with Tony Iommi a little in terms of ego and whatnot, but after the awesome, 'The Mob Rules', he left to do Dio, and that band was awesome. He also showed back up in the middle of the trilogy of great Tony Martin albums with, 'Dehumanizer', and it kicked ass and he was gone for good until the Black Sabbath in everything but name only band Heaven and Hell made one of the best albums of last decade and let Ronnie ride off into the sunset with a classic under his belt. Ronnie James Dio is without a doubt the best we could have asked for in terms of replacements, his voice is one of the best voices, it had so much character to it, and his lyrics, while a bit cheesy at times, were really great. We got 10 more albums than we would have without him in the initial Black Sabbath run, and without him, who is to say that we wouldn't have had the newest Black Sabbath album, maybe Black Sabbath would have remained in obscurity and they never came back. But regardless of my random speculation, I just want to say that I miss Ronnie, there'll never be another like him. Plus he gave us this ---> m/

5. Sammy Hagar (Van Halen)

Most people go with the David Lee Roth side of Van Halen when talking about which line-up they prefer. While I enjoy what they band did pre-Sammy Hagar a large portion of it was all flash and sizzle but very little actual substance. Roth for all his front man aura is a pretty lousy musician as was proved after he parted was with is solo guitarist henchman Steve Vai and the quality of his work plummeted. Hagar on the other hand is a true songwriter, great singer having been a successful solo artist for a large portions of the late 70's/early 80's and the man responsible for leading Montrose to larger fame on the back of his song "Rock Candy". Van Halen with Hagar was much more a band rather than a side show to a flamboyant front man and it came out in their music. Instantly they turned into a more complete, song orientated band that that had vocals in the music and a second creative lynchpin the complemented Eddie's guitar playing. While some might sight a lack of fun in the Hagar-era recordings, I hear a stylistically divergent band unafraid to tackle different genres and groves.

4. Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac)

Peter Green has his disciples and with good reason, he was a fantastic blues guitarist and his talents sparked Fleetwood Mac to massive success in the UK and Europe. His replacement Bob Welch was also a competent musician and a good man to travel the river with in regards to the music industry but he didn't have the same creative spark Green brought to the band. Out of the ether steps Lindsay Buckingham, a tortured genius songwriter and while he didn't have the chops of Peter Green on guitar, his musical vision was fare superior to anyone Mac had used before. It's no coincidence Fleetwood Mac were propelled to mega-stardom under Buckingham's hand as they turned out a series of near perfect rock albums that came to define the SoCal sound. His real strength was less to do with his melting guitar melodies and honey-dripping harmonies and more in line with the dark undertone his songs took. No matter how bright the song, their existed a twisted heart. He gave performances that bordered on exorcisms, which may have lead to his eventual burn out in the 80's. Flick Forward to 1:25 into the video below and tell me he isn't living this song? This man will always be Fleetwood Mac at its best.

3. Jason Newsted (Metallica)

I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Jason Newsted. He stepped into the position of replacing Cliff Burton when Metallica's fans and more importantly the band themselves were not set to deal with anyone filling in for Burton. The interesting thing is Newsted eventually, through sheer force of will, earned the respect of everyone that ever saw him live. Never given a look in creatively he instead took to the stage in a blaze of adrenaline and won people over town-by-town and show-by-show and by the end of the …And Justice For All tour his personality was as important ingredient to the future success of the band as anything else. When I saw them on the Black Album tour everyone walking out was saying the same thing…Jason Newsted is a fucking beast! He got over despite every roadblock put in front of him and was the perfect person to join Metallica at their most down time.

2. Jon Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers TWICE)

The Chili Peppers were already legendary for all the wrong reasons by the time first guitarist Hillel Slovak died. More know for their sock-on-cock antics and the virtuoso bass playing of Flea the band were destined to be like a slew of other LA bands that were underground success and not much else. Entre Frusciante into the mix and you brought in a serious guitarist. Legend has it he was sit in his room for hours on end playing a single note again and again and when he was sick of that he was learn the songs of his favourite band…the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Barely out of his teens when he joined it immediately sparked a creative well spring within the band as Flea had someone that was not only an equal as a musician but also someone that was a creative force as well that completely changed the sound of the band. Frusciante didn't take to fame as well as most hoped and spectacularly flames out towards the end of touring Blood Sugar Sex Magic and then descended into drug hell. In his absence the RHCP floundered and at their lowest they reached out the then newly clean Frusciante and suddenly the band where a force again released three massive studio albums. Jon has left the band once more but entirely for better reasons this time. While the RHCP have marched on, we still all hope that the classic line-up with happen again at some point.

1. Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones)

Brian Jones was more myth than musician. While it was true that he founded The Rolling Stones, you cannot deny the fact that Jagger/Richards were the creative force behind their music. Jones had a great inventive spirit but as a player and songwriter he lacked that certain something. After his death ex-Blues Breaker guitarist Mick Taylor joined the band and while he was never what you called a comfortable fit in the maelstrom that was The Rolling Stones, his guitar work is all over the seminal classics Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street and Goats Head Soup that cemented The Stones as a superstar band for the ages. Eventually the more reserved Taylor and the pirate-infused Richards clashed with Keith going as far as to erase large parts of Taylor's guitar work on It's Only Rock ‘n Roll. Couple that with the fact the even though large portion of the bands track in his tenure where based on his riffs and guitar parts, he only received one song writing credit. This led Taylor to bow out of the band and ending the last great creative period for the Stones. While The Rolling Stone would have been legendary even if he was never in the band, Mick Taylor and his superior guitar playing talent elevated the game of everyone in the band.

Honorable Mention: Matt Sorum, Guns ‘N Roses; Ronnie James Dio, Black Sabbath; Ian Astbury, The Doors; George Michael, Queen; Jason Newsted, Metallica

5. Blues Saraceno (Poison)

People who know me understand that Poison is my favorite band of all-time, a child of the ‘80s whose musical tastes remain there. While I love CC Deville, I feel that one of the most underrated Poison albums of all time is "Crack a Smile," the album that saw Blues Saraceno replace the recently fired Richie Kotzen (advice: never sleep with a core-members finance). The release of the album was put off, and by the time it was released, Blues was no longer with the band and CC was back. However, the work with Blues remains some of Poison's best to date. In some fun trivia, AJ Styles new theme in TNA Wrestling is "Evil Ways" by Blues Saraceno.

4. John Corabi (Motley Crue)

Much like Blues Saraceno with Poison, John Corabi was just a one-album replacement for Motley Crue, taking over Vince Neil's spot in the band when he quit. While very little from that self-titled album is remembered today, I feel like "Motley Crue" was one of the band's best and proof that they could continue on, and honestly, his voice is much better than Vince Neil's was at that point. However, it didn't last, Vince Neil came back, and Motley Crue stumbled through almost a full decade before "Saints of Los Angeles" brought them roaring back with a vengeance. Since then, he has worked with former KISS drummer Eric Singer and Ratt and released a solo album in 2012.

3. Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)

It is really hard to think of Iron Maiden without Bruce Dickinson singing lead. However, there have been many years that Maiden lived without Dickinson singing lead. Paul Day sang lead vocals when the band started and was replaced by Dennis Wilcock after just two years. However, it wasn't until Dickinson joined in 1981 that Iron Maiden became truly epic. Dickinson left the band in 1993, but thankfully returned in 1999 and has been with them ever since. Iron Maiden without Bruce Dickinson is not the same as any iteration of the band with him.

2. Sammy Hager (Van Halen)

When David Lee Roth left Van Halen I was in high school. I remember pretty clearly that no one though the Red Rocker Sammy Hagar could ever fill David Lee's shoes. Van Halen was one of the biggest bands in the world, and seeing Roth leave the band made a lot of people feel like the band was going to die. After the success of 1984, the first "Van Hagar" album "5150" had a lot of live up to, and it was not quickly accepted by fans. However, after some steady radio play, that album proved to be completely different than anything Van Halen put out before, and is an amazing album. The follow-up, "OU812" was an amazing album too, and to be honest, I would stack up anything Sammy Hagar did against anything David Lee Roth did and call it a draw. David Lee Roth Van Halen was all about sex and partying while Hagar was more mature, a new sound that kept Van Halen relevant even after losing their lead singer.

1. Brian Johnson (AC/DC)

One of the most impressive replacement musicians in music history has to be when Bon Scott died and somehow AC/DC found Bruce Johnson to take his place. According to Angus Young, it was Bon Scott himself who discovered Brian Johnson, who the singer said had the style of Little Richard. When Bon Scott died, and AC/DC chose not to break up, they called Bruce Johnson in for a tryout and the rest is history. The most amazing thing about this replacement is that, his first album with the band was "Back in Black," arguably the best AC/DC album of all time.

The Final Word

As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We're merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here's what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week's topic on the comment section using the following format:

5. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
4. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
3. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
2. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
1. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it


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