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So Who Can’t Be Replaced?

Yesterday’s discussion about Quiet Riot reforming with a new singer got me to thinking…is everyone replaceable? I always say everyone is replaceable at a “normal” job. Of course, lead singer or show-off guitarist is not the most normal job in the world.

I mean, AC/DC is more successful now than they were with their original singer. Def Leppard kept right on even after Steve Clark died and many argued he was the most talented member of the band. The Rev in Avenged Sevenfold was so much more than your run-of-the-mill drummer and yet the band soldiers on, with a number 1 record and sold out shows.

So maybe every musician can be replaced. Sure, there’s no replacement for John Lennon or Elvis but maybe there are people just as good. Maybe we just haven’t found them yet. Or maybe rock n’ roll is a casualty of globalization just like everything else: a worldwide labor pool means the next best singer or guitarist could be in Manhattan or Milan.

So I dare you. Tell me just who can’t be replaced.

Reader Comments (28)

Obviously Steven Tyler is by far the most irreplaceable person to ever front a band but other people include David Coverdale in Whitesnake and the Van Halen brothers in their band.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
The first person that came to mind was Eddie Van Halen, and John's point about Steven Tyler is excellent as well. I think it boils down to having a role in defining the sound of the band in a manner that is pretty much unique. When that is the case, replacement actually requires a reinvention of sorts in order for the band to sustain success. I think that's what Van Halen did when Roth left. I think that ACDC was a little bit different band with Bon Scott, and after his death they became more of a hard rock band than they were before and it worked for them.

If you can't successfully reinvent the band, then you are forced to soldier on as a pale comparison of what you once were. Bands like Journey have continued on and while they have created some new music since Steve Perry left, they are kind of that "tribute band to themselves" that Allyson refers to. It's just not the same. Same with some other classic rock acts, like Styx, Foreigner, Bad Company and REO Speedwagon.

I think there are a few guys that are so much the heart and soul of their band that there's really no going on without them: Dave Meniketti from Y&T, Tom Keiffer from Cindarella, Geoff Tate from Queensryche, Angus Young, Kip Winger, Don Dokken, Steve Harris (that's for you Metalboy!), Tony Iommi, any one of the three members of Rush, and I'm sure there are many more.....
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRich
Blackie Lawless, Dave Mustaine, James Hetfield, Jon Bon jovi and Richie Sambora
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNikkeSixx
Gene & Paul, regardless of what they say...
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSMK not SMF
Ozzy, Dio, & Blackie Lawless each of whom could never be replaced. (Even though Black Sabbath tried to motor on without Dio it was never very good.)
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterreptileblvd
You, Allyson, cannot be replaced :-)
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.
Jim Morrison, The Doors recorded two albums after Morrison died, they were not bad but they did not sound like The Doors, and there more recent attempts have not been successfu.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterManny
Yeah, blackie is the show there. I think even though he's the guitarist- tom sholz of boston. Hetfield yes, I'm thinking Dee snider of Twisted sister.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
I think there's a difference between whether the band wants to continue making new music, or to just perform.

If it's just about performance, the lead singer is the hardest guy to replace, obviously because vocals are a critical part of a band's sound and are the most difficult to accurately replace by someone else. For example, you could replace Richie Sambora with another guitarist and as long as JBJ was singing, it would sound like a Bon Jovi song.

But if the band is going to continue writing music, the irreplaceable guy(s) who do the songwriting & arranging. This will affect A7X. They found a great drummer to replace the Rev on tour and it still looks & sounds like Avenged Sevenfold on stage. But the Rev was their main songwriter and had his hands in everything production-wise, so it will be interesting to see what happens for their future albums.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
Generally, I think it's the leader of the band who cannot be replaced.

Imagine Cheap Trick without the inimitable Rick Nielsen.

Then again, The Allman Brothers kept rollin' after Duane died, though down a notch even with Betts' stunning guitar work and stellar songwriting. And Deep Purple kept going after Blackmore became a court jester on the Renaissance Fair Circuit.

They were actually quite bad*ss the first time he quit when Tommy Bolan and Coverdale stepped in for Blackmore and Gillan, though Blackmore stuck around for awhile 'til he got tired of Coverdale's "funkiness", as he so audaciously claimed. To see exactly how BADA*S Deep Purple Mark IV, as it's the fourth line up, was, YouTube this:

"Tommy Bolin with Deep Purple (Highway Star) Very Rare Version"

There are other clips of this same footage, but this one is the best visually and sound wise as it's from VH1 Classic's archives.

Okay, so Bolin is really half-a*sing it on this particular clip, but apparently he was a monster when we wasn't too wasted or cared when he was playing. And Coverdale does't even stick to the script when it comes to the words (quite hysterically, though somewhat chauvinistically) and even has Glenn Hughes cover off some of the singing of the higher parts, yet this is somehow the beauty of the clip. It's pure Rock'n'Roll! It's jammin'! You'll see what I mean, when you look at it."

They're exhausted yet still so BADA*SS how they pull it off. And what's Coverdale sucking on from the "streamer" thrown from the audience? Apparently drugs were often thrown up or, in this case, "sent up" to the stage from generous fans. The footage is Platform heeled, Bell Bottomed, Microphone tricked BADAS*SEDNESS from '75 Tokyo. YouTube it. You won't be disappointed. Sorry, I didn't put the link up. I'm such a relic.

The kid who helps me with the dang computer crap (and a major Iron Maiden fan with 2 different pairs of Iron Maiden Vans and "2 Minutes To Midnight" as his cellphone intro salutation when you call it, Rich!) is going to show me how to do that. I know, copy and paste! I need to copy and paste my brain, first.

Ugh! Ignore my ignorance and do yourselves a favor, all of you. If you haven't seen this clip, check it out! It will be the best thing you look at all day, trust me.

I know this is a touchy subject, but Kix is definitely not the same without Purnell, no matter how great they are still. He was the genius behind it all and that's why there's no real new material of any note since he split.

Very often is the case, when a key, principle member is replaced, the band generally transforms from "Band" to "Tribute Band of Themselves", as is the case with Quiet Riot. And though, that's a pretty good move by Banali to get the other original line-up back, it doesn't have Cavuso, who was the replacement who happened to be in their incarnation that had the biggest, most memorable hits.

So, that's kinda twisted. The original guitarist is playing Rhodes and Cavaso's stuff as that is the real trademark Quiet Riot stuff, but it came after he was their first guitarist. Do I have that straight? Whatever is the case, it certainly makes the subject of this post quite an interesting debate. Cool, Al, as usual.

This new guy Huff is a pretty good Dubrow Impressionist but lacks that certain something extra Dubrow had. I think maybe that little "sumthin' sumthin'" Dubrow had was, to be blunt, an extra set of b*lls. Huff's voice really has a touch of disingenuousness that money can do to a person. Dubrow really LIVED it. He was certifiably nuts and it came through on stage.

I was lucky enough to see the original line up in a small club in Maryland called Network (long gone) and he was a wild man! This guy Huff is just going through the motions. That's not to say he's enjoying himself, but no matter how much he's "into it", he's just not on the level Dubrow was. Of course, that could also be out of an innate reverence for the guy.

Brian Johnson, who I've met twice, has always said, "It's all in Bon's Honor." What a class act. Though, he'll never hold a candle to Scott and admits it, he is the real deal just as Rich has described.

The notion Rich points out -- that of band reformation as reinvention -- just as AC/DC achieved, is the goal. Just cashing in with a clone singer, not so much.

p.s. Rich: I pretty much agree with you on everything here and pretty much all of your comments in Al's previous post on Quiet Riot's return. I even agree that Harris is irreplacable! That's why I pray he'll quit, hahaha!!! Just kiddin', Bro. Look, just tell me, what is the one Maiden album ('93 or earlier) that you want me to get? I will get it and listen to it 10 times -- maybe more, if it converts me -- and give you my review. I mean, look, Iron Maiden has it's duds but they must have one record that's killer. I've got one on vinyl, but it's in storage -- I think it's the one with "Run To The Hills" on it. And I have some iTunes with that other singer (too lazy to Google right now), too, as well as Dickinson, and I almost like some of the other dude's stuff better, to be honest.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Easy...Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart!
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
Doiy!! Thanks Steve, I can't believe i couldn't think of that one. Man i feel dumb now.

Anywhooooo, just listened to the Huff-tracks via the link and they sound intersting. Wish the rerecords coul have been proccessed and mixed better but thats just mixer in me talking. I fell that he is being restrained here, like KickAxe's singer on their second album welcome to the club. Let loose dude!! On that note I really would like to see some new material out of this group since anything new from one of my favorite groups would be a good thing in my opinion.

Metalboy check out Allmusic dot com and look Iron Maiden, then go to their discography and look for Somewhere in Time, not Somewhere BACK in time, The album I'm talking about (the first one minus the word BACK) came out after powerslave (1984) its not life after death as that was a live album. There is a link to the album's review page on the "bands that beat the sophmore slump Thread" a few days back.

Hope it works, BANG YOUR HEAD!!
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
correction the live album was LIVE after death, sorry! :)
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
The "irreplacables"
Paul Stanley - KISS
Steve Whiteman - KIX
Blackie Lawless - W.A.S.P.
Eddie Van Halen - Van Halen
Steve Harris - Iron Maiden
Ann Wilson - Heart
Rick Neilsen - Cheap Trick
David Coverdale - Whitesnake
Alice Cooper
Joan Jett & Cherie Currie - the Runaways
Dee Snider - Twisted Sister
Steven Tyler - Aerosmith (are you listening,Mr. Perry?)
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
wow! I can't believe I'm agreeing with Metalboy again. (JK. Love ya man) Mark Huff definitely sounds disingenuous, and doesn't have the cajones of the late DuBrow. also, while I like Brian Jonson era ACDC, Bon was the friggin' man and always will be!

Metalboy, tommy bolin was an absolute genius. His problem was that he destroyed himself with drugs. If you don't own it, go out and buy the billy cobham album called Spectrum. Bolin plays guitar on that record, and he will blow your friggin' mind. I will say this with no hesitation -- when Bolin was on, he was every bit as good as Jeff Beck.

and, for the commenters who mentioned Dee snider as irreplaceable, I completely agree, not only because of his tremendous pipes, but also because of his between-song rants which, although he doesn't do as much anymore, were legendary back in the late 70s and early 80s.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Has anyone seen Mark Huff ? Or are we just making observations off of a karoke link on QR's website ?
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGNR
The ones that are irreplacebale are the ones that can stand on their own. Plain and simple...

Would you go see Lemmy or go see some dude fronting Motorhead ?

Would you go see Jon Bon Jovi or some dude singing duets with Richie and the rest of the gang ?

Would you go see Eddie Van Halenand his mastery or Van Halen with some dude playing a funny looking guitar ?

Some of the list on what bands (not artists bands - Ozzy, Alice, Petty, Seger, etc...) that wouldn't make it

No Mustane, No Megadeth
No Hetfield, No Metallica
No Snider, No Twisted Sister
No Lemmy, No Motorhead
No Bon Jovi, well no Bon Jovi
No Eddie, no Van Halen
No Angus, no AC/DC
No Bret, no Poison
No Blackie, no WASP
No Paul, no KISS
No Gene, no KISS
No Ann, no Heart
No Nancy, no Heart
No Tyler, no Aerosmith
No Don, no Dokken (for name only...similar to..)
No Kip, no Winger
No Kiefer, no Cinderella

and some newer ones,

No Aaron Lewis, no Staind
No Chad Kroeger, no Nickelback
No Cobain, No Nirvana (see what I mean?)
No Grohl, No Foo Fighters
No Eddie, No Pearl Jam
No Shaun Morgan, No Seether

the list can go on

Some that I think could survive:

Iron Maiden
Def Leppard
Ratt...oh wait, they already did :)

I'll stop now. Peace...
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGNR
Eddie Van halen popped into my head before I was done reading. I see he made a lot of other lists as well.Actually, I pretty much agree with GNR's entire list...
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGary
Pantera had better NEVER reunite without Dimebag. Not to mention Phil Anselmo is the biggest douche ever.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Ozz
thats because rev wrote 75% of that album. idk how well they will do without him on the next album if they plan to continue. no one will ever be as good as him. but Avenged are and will always be the greatest band ever. They are all irreplaceable and incredibly talented.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMotleyCrue666

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