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A&E >  Music

If only the replacement singers could have been replaced

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 10, 2020

Not all replacement singers have helped the cause. The following 10 vocalists made some fans pine for the original lead singers.

Sammy Hagar replaces David Lee Roth in Van Halen: Yes, Hagar is a much better vocalist than Roth. However, the original Van Halen vocalist brought wit and showmanship to the table. Hagar crafted some of the most insipid lyrics ever. Who signed off on “Only time will tell if we stand the test of time” from “Why Can’t This Be Love?”

“Summer Nights” features some fine guitar work by Eddie Van Halen but is virtually unlistenable thanks to Hagar’s drivel. The words are just too dumb to be printed in a family newspaper.

No wonder Eddie Van Halen asked Patty Smyth, of Scandal fame, to replace Roth. Who knows what list that version of Van Halen would have made? Only if Smyth said yes.

Gary Cherone replaces Sammy Hagar in Van Halen: Cherone seems like a nice enough guy. His band Extreme was an overly earnest one-hit wonder (“More Than Words,” anyone?), and his three-year stint with the band was so bland and forgettable. All that I remember from that period was an interview I did with Eddie Van Halen in 1996. I asked him how he would handle Van Halen’s eventual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

“Gary will sing lead, and Dave and Sammy will sing backup,” he said. Actually, that would have been amusing. Anything would have been better than what transpired, with only Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony showing up.

Mike Campbell and Neil Finn replace Lindsey Buckingham in Fleetwood Mac: Who didn’t feel bad for guitarist Mike Campbell after his creative partner, Tom Petty, died unexpectedly in 2017? It’s nice Fleetwood Mac pulled Campbell out on the road after the devastation, but he and Crowded House vocalist-guitarist Neil Finn can’t stop fans from recalling Buckingham.

Buckingham was the architect behind much of the Fleetwood Mac sound, and he is such an underrated vocalist and guitarist.

Ian Astbury replaces Jim Morrison in the Doors: Morrison is impossible to follow. However, Astbury joined a version of the Doors nearly 30 years after the death of the Lizard King. The tour was for surviving members, guitarist Robbie Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who clearly enjoyed playing the Doors’ classics live with Astbury, who is a more than capable vocalist.

Manzarek delivered a number of anecdotes during the show. During an interview around the time of the 2005 tour, Manzarek was obviously over the moon, but what Morrison provided – volatility, unpredictability and one of the greatest screams in rock history – wasn’t there in the 21st century version.

Ian Gillan replaces Ronnie James Dio in Black Sabbath: Gillan is a great singer, but he just didn’t fit with Sabbath. I experienced his Sabbath tour, dubbed “Born Again,” and I’m still trying to forget it.

Johnny Sollinger replaces Sebastian Bach in Skid Row: Bach as a bandmate, by a number of accounts, is a headcase. The charismatic former member of the “Gilmore Girls” cast, however, is a great interview, and he has a tremendous set of pipes. Bach has such presence and a voice that he has starred in “Jekyll & Hyde” and “The Rocky Horror Show” on Broadway for good reason.

There was no other singer for Skid Row. Such hits as “18 and Life,” “Youth Gone Wild” and “I Remember You” crackle with life because of Bach. The wacky Canadian killed it when Skid Row opened for Guns ‘N Roses during the 1990s. Bach is irreplaceable as far as Skid Row goes.

J.D. Fortune replaces Michael Hutchence in INXS: Casting Fortune, a reality-TV music competition winner, as the replacement for the complex and captivating Hutchence was a disaster. When INXS opened for the Go-Gos during the mid-1980s, the band had so much potential, and Hutchence could have passed for an Australian Mick Jagger.

RIP, Michael, and the same goes for INXS, which is thankfully defunct.

John Corabi replaces Vince Neil in Motley Crue: Corabi is a very good singer, arguably better than Neil. However, Motley Crue was about larger than life characters. All four were essential to the band’s success. One of the most polarizing bands in the history of rock wasn’t the same without Neil.

Ripper Owens replaces Rob Halford in Judas Priest: Owens could sing. He graduated from a Priest cover band to land the coveted position with the metal icons. However, Halford is a metal God who can’t be touched.

Blaze Bayley replaces Bruce Dickinson in Iron Maiden: It’s the same story for Bayley. Dickinson is tough to replace.

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