“A classic rock band loses a lead singer due to death, disagreements or a dissipating voice. It happens all the time. Styx, Journey, Queen, Lynyrd Skynyrd … the list goes on. Of course, the fans clamor for these bands to keep touring and pumping out albums – with one stipulation: that they sound the same.””
A classic rock band loses a lead singer due to death, disagreements or a dissipating voice.
It happens all the time.
Styx, Journey, Queen, Lynyrd Skynyrd … the list goes on.
Of course, the fans clamor for these bands to keep touring and pumping out albums – with one stipulation: that they sound the same.
With the lead singer being the signature element of most bands, that is almost impossible. Consequently, a band’s return with a new front man almost always disappoints the public.
Fans need to open their minds, however. You won’t be able to find Freddie Mercury’s stunt double at a flea market. Here are a few classic rock bands who have taken a step forward with their replacement. But before you buy a new album, keep an open mind that it’s impossible to sound the same as the old guy.
Journey – Old guy: Steve Perry. New guys: Steve Augeri, then Jeff Scott Soto. The band from the city by the bay became in quite a bind when Perry split. His unique high-pitched voice created a problem. So the band went to the mall to shop for a new one (literally). Augeri was holding down a job at The Gap when Journey asked him to come aboard.
A prerequisite for Augeri’s new job, of course, is the ability to hit the high notes in Don’t Stop Believin’, Faithfully, etc. Augeri nails it, but adds a wave of soul that Perry’s poppy voice lacked. The band’s most recent albums, Arrival and Generations, include more ballads than the band’s work in the ’70s. Still, they should have received a lot more publicity. They got little attention because people assumed Journey isn’t Journey without Steve Perry.
Anyhow, Augeri caught laryngitis during a tour last summer and Soto filled in. The band decided to stick with Soto, and Augeri plans to work on a solo album. As the band toured the past few years, critics have adored both.
Queen – Old guy: Freddie Mercury. New guy: Paul Rodgers. Mercury’s death was a tragedy for the entire rock world and crippled the band. He has another one of those irreplaceable sounds. The only thing that could strike up a reunion tour was finding the best rock singer on the planet. They did.
Guitarist Brian May asked his buddy Paul Rodgers to fill in. Rodgers, the author of All Right Now and countless Bad Company hits, had been going solo the past few years. His bluesy yet British style fits perfectly with Great Britain’s biggest ’70s band. Of course, you have to put all prejudices aside of how you think Queen’s hits should sound.
Rodgers is back touring solo again, but you can pick up a DVD or CD of his music with Queen just about anywhere.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Old guy: Ronnie Van Zant. New guy: Johnny Van Zant. As good as Ronnie was, vocals weren’t quite what made Skynyrd so popular. Years after a 1977 plane crash killed Ronnie, his brother Johnny took over. Johnny’s voice has a touch of biker-gang gruffiness. For Skynyrd, that’s no problem.
Although almost the entire band is new, many songs on the newest album Vicious Cycle come to a powerful crescendo and speak deeper messages about faith and traversing through life, compared to many of the ’70s songs that focused on drugs and women.
A lot of music fans wish they lived a few decades ago, when rock peaked. The glory days have been over for awhile, but under new vocals, many are still listenable shadows of their former selves.