Monday, May 1, 2017

Who Dat? The Replacement Singers

Who Dat?

As the legendary bands age, members come and go. Some die, some get fired, some quit. But just because an original member isn't in the band anymore, is it still the same band? Should the band call it quits because the original bass player quit? Hell, should the band hang it up if the singer or guitarist quits? Gets fired? Dies? I got into a discussion with a good friend of mine a couple days ago, and we disagreed on the subject. He was saying that if the original lineup wasn't there, it was nothing more than a cover band. I maintained that it depends on the situation. Bands like Molly Hatchet, who have a lineup that features not one single original member are cover bands. Or, Bobby Blotzer, formerly of Ratt suing the original lineup for the name, where  he would be the only original  member. However, a band like Queensryche is still the band. 3/5 of the original lineup are still there. We're going to talk about several bands in this piece, and explore the fan's reaction to the new members. Since I've already mentioned Queensryhe, we'll start with them.

Queensryche's original lineup released their first 6 albums together. The first member to depart was guitarist, Chris DeGarmo, who left the band to pursue a career as an airline pilot. Many people considered the band to be dead when he left. Since his departure, they had 2 replacement guitarists, neither of who captured the essence of DeGarmo's playing. However, the third time is the charm in this case. Current guitarist, Parker Lundgren does the best job out of the three of them at matching the style of DeGarmo. And, he's been on more Queensryche albums than the other two guitarists, including the 2 released with replacement singer, Todd LaTorre. (Both albums charted in the top 30, which had not happened in a long time) LaTorre who replaced singer, Geoff Tate after his firing as mostly accepted by the fans, although you'd never know it if you look at social media, where supporters of Geoff Tate rattle off the same tired dribble like "No Tate, no Queensryche!" over and over again. Although they never seem to dispute the counter arguments that say that Tate can't even sing the songs anymore for some reason. The song writing is back to the style that the fans wanted, which is the classic power metal that made the band famous in the first place.

Todd LaTorre of Queensryche

Next, we'll take a look at a replacement singer who was hated by the fans. Blaze Bayley of Iron Maiden. And, before you start sending me messages and comments, Yes, I know that Bruce Dickinson was also a replacement singer. We aren't talking about Bruce. Not to mention, he's back in the band, and has been for a long time, so its a non issue. Blaze had a rough time as Maiden's singer. All that really needs to be said is that the fans hated him, and they hated the 2 albums that he sang on. But, finally, Bruce came back on 2000's Brave New World, and the fans rejoiced.

Blaze Bayley with Iron Maiden

Next, we're going to talk about another group of metal gods, who are none other than the Metal Gods themselves. Judas Priest. When Rob Halford left the band to pursue a solo career, the fans were angry. But, a few years later, the band found Tim 'Ripper' Owens, who sounded just like Halford.  His first album with Priest, Jugulator was released with a mix of criticism and praise. Most fans liked the album, but there were some detractors who complained that it was too heavy. I've always maintained that if you read the album credits in Jugulator, you will see Halford's name listed in about half the songs. Jugulator was going to be the next Priest album with or without Halford. But, the next album, Demolition, a lot the praise for Ripper had gone away. Although it was a great metal album, it didn't sound like Priest, and many fans believed that it was time for Ripper to go. And, he did, and has had a pretty successful career. 

Tim 'Ripper' Owens with Judas Priest

And last, but not least, we're going to talk about the most successful replacement singer of all time...well, recent time, anyway, since Brian Johnson of AC/DC, who is the most successful replacement singer of all time is not with them anymore. Plus, he's a lot like Bruce Dickinson. He is a replacement singer, but the band got gi-normous once he came in. No, we're going to talk about Arnel Pineda of Journey. You all know his story. Guitarist, Neal Schon found him on YouTube, a singer in the Philippines, playing in cover bands, in crappy bars. They had tried to bring other singers, but were unsuccessful. But, once Pineda came in, Journey found themselves selling out arenas and stadiums once again. Having a singer who launches himself through the air like a young David Lee Roth certainly doesn't hurt. But, while there are detractors and purists for all of these singers, Pineda, I would say has had the most success. Sure, there are people who would rather have Steve Perry back in Journey, but I'm not one of them...And, neither is Steve Perry!

Perry and Pineda. Respect.

So, in conclusion, you simply aren't going to be able to please everyone. I don't think that just because an original singer goes away for whatever reason that the band simply becomes a cover band, or a 'Fake-Ryche' or 'Mock Up Priest,' or 'Iron Rip-Off' or whatever creative name that the detractors came up with. The band members want to continue to tour, and make albums, and the fans still want to see them. So, why should they quit? If you ask me, they shouldn't.
Arnel Pineda with journey

However, Bobby Blotzer needs to give it up! 

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