>There was a time when a band lost its lead singer and it was pretty much assumed the band was finished. Sure, sometimes they were able to change directions or, in the case of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship, simply change names. Groups like The Temptations switched singers and entered a whole new era with their music, and Van Halen pretty much set the bar for success after losing a front man. Often times, however, the band simply ceased to exist and its members went on to other projects.
Then, sometime in the late 90s, bands started to realize they didn’t have to quit entirely when their singer left the group or (Gasp!) died, nor did they have to change directions with a new vocalist attempting a completely different sound. They could instead find a singer who sounded almost exactly like the last guy and continue on unscathed and, sometimes, be even more successful. Well, faster than you can say “Judas Priest”, there was some other dude onstage in the center spot. Below is a list of five bands who replaced their singers with guys who sounded pretty close to the original.
5, Yes. Yes was probably the most successful Progressive Rock Group of all time, with a career that spans over thirty years. The band has always been known for symphonic rock and amazing live shows. At the center of this ever-changing band has primarily been Jon Anderson. Anderson has left the band on more than one occasion, and Yes has changed its sound numerous times over the years. In 2008, due to respiratory illness apparently caused by owning a lonely heart for twenty years, Anderson left the group in need of a permanent replacement. Enter Benoit David, a Canadian singer from the Yes tribute band Close To The Edge. Found on youtube, David took over in 2008 for some tour dates and since has been chosen to record the vocals for the band’s next album.
4. Foreigner. As front man of the immensely popular band Foreigner, Lou Gramm has always been known for his amazing vocal range and onstage charisma. Able to croon to classic ballads such as “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and belt out rocking tunes like “Head Games”, Gramm had a voice that was instantly recognizable. In 2003. Gramm left the band permanently to pursue his solo career and work more with members of his family. Foreigner replaced him with Kelly Hansen, a singer from several other bands who was also a professional session singer. Hansen’s voice was similar enough to Gramm’s to work on all the classic hits, but also unique enough to represent the band on new tracks. The Hansen-fronted album Can’t Slow Down hit #29 on the Billboard Charts, proving Foreigner fans seemed okay with the change.
3. Boston. Where would touring rock bands be without The Internet? Not only do they find fans online, they sometimes find their singers that way. Yes found their new frontman from online clips with a tribute band, and Boston found one in similar fashion. Tragically, Boston’s lead singer, Brad Delp, committed suicide in 2007. The band has toured with several singers since then but, thank to Myspace.com, found the guy currently singing lead vocals. An employee of Home Depot in North Carolina, Tommy DeCarlo was a lifelong Boston fan who posted online recordings of himself singing some of the band’s hits. Asked to join the band onstage for a tribute concert for Delp, DeCarlo, having never fronted a professional band before, is currently on tour with Boston as lead singer.
2. INXS. When singer Michael Hutchence died tragically in 1997, INXS seemed finished. The band toured with random singers for a while, but seemed to be history by 2001. In 2005, however, the reality show Rock Star: INXS brought them back into the spotlight during their televised search for a new singer. A former Elvis impersonator, JD Fortune won the contest, thanks in no part to his ability to sound strikingly like Hutchence and recreate much of the singer’s inflections. Fortune toured with the band and recorded the Switch in 2005, the first hit album for the band in years. Since 2008, however, Fortune has only been in the band on occasion, most notably during performances at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and the band is “officially” without a frontman.
1. Journey. Youtube to the rescue! Journey is a multi-platinum-selling band with legions of fans, thirty years of hits, and even a video game based on them. At the front of this cash cow was Steve Perry who, not even the original lead singer himself, had the distinction of helping push the band to the top of the charts and making everyone hate him at the same time. After years of in-fighting, Perry left the group for good in 1998 in a split that was not remotely amicable. For a while, Journey was fronted by, oddly enough, a guy also named Steve. Then, in 2007, the band saw clips of Filipino singer Arnel Pineda on youtube.com. Pineda’s voice was amazingly similar to Steve Perry’s and he had the pipes to hit all of the famous high notes on hits such as “Don’t Stop Believin'”. How did fans take to the new front man? They apparently loved it, as the band’s 2008 tour was the top seller of the year, raking in over 35 million bucks. The album Revelation was certified platinum, and the band went right to work on a second album with Pineda on lead.
Right now, in some basement, a kid is practicing his vocals to karaoke tracks of Chad Kroeger, in the hopes of one day fronting Nickelback on their 25th Anniversary Tour. When bands like Styx and Kool and the Gang are touring with completely different frontmen than the guy who sang most of their biggest hits, anything is possible. Just the right youtube video can get it done these days, so you never know. Rumor has it that even INXS once almost used a comedian as their new singer…although I hear that was just a hoax.