Bands that did better after lead singer left?
May 1, 2010 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Are there any well-known bands that became more successful after their lead singer left?

Genesis (the band) has, as far as I can tell, the following characteristics:

1) They were fairly well-known and popular back when Peter Gabriel was the lead singer;

2) Peter Gabriel left to become a solo artist, and did fairly well for himself, but;

3) The remaining band did much better, in terms of record sales.

Of course, Phil Collins struck out on his own solo career, but is there any other case like this? In every other case that comes to mind (10,000 Maniacs, Wham, The Police, The Smiths, Destiny's Child, etc.) the rest of the band didn't do that well after the lead singer left, if it even managed to survive at all.
posted by UrineSoakedRube to Media & Arts (57 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Iron Maiden
Pantera
posted by fire&wings at 1:59 PM on May 1, 2010


AC/DC
posted by meerkatty at 2:00 PM on May 1, 2010


(AC/DC wouldn't fit if you really mean that lead singer left, instead of died, of course.)
posted by meerkatty at 2:02 PM on May 1, 2010


Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers (later known as The Beatles)
posted by grouse at 2:05 PM on May 1, 2010


Pink Floyd, if you count Syd Barrett as the original lead singer.
posted by googly at 2:06 PM on May 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Van Halen might qualify as well.
posted by waxboy at 2:07 PM on May 1, 2010


Also, after Ian Curtis died, the remaining members of Joy Division formed New Order, which was much more commercially successful.
posted by googly at 2:10 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers (later known as The Beatles)

Tony Sheridan doesn't quite work--though they produced a few tracks with him, it wasn't even enough to fill a whole album and, in most accounts I've read of the Beatles' sojourn in Hamburg, he wasn't considered a part of the band in any significant way and wasn't part off their usual line-up at the clubs they were playing at the time (the Kaiserkeller, et al.).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:17 PM on May 1, 2010


Yardbirds > Led Zeppelin?
posted by donpardo at 2:18 PM on May 1, 2010


Black Flag. Keith Morris left, and eventually Henry Rollins settled in.
posted by nitsuj at 2:20 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Black Flag had a few singers before Henry Rollins. They may or may not satisfy point #1, though--I wasn't around yet to know for sure, but from what I've read, I believe they had a national following already by the time Rollins joined.
posted by equalpants at 2:21 PM on May 1, 2010


Fleetwood Mac certainly became more famous once Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined..
posted by MuffinMan at 2:25 PM on May 1, 2010


Grateful Dead and Pigpen McKernan, (also died rather than left.)
posted by Some1 at 2:29 PM on May 1, 2010


Yeah, Iron Maiden were way more successful after Bruce Dickinson showed up.
posted by rodgerd at 2:30 PM on May 1, 2010


Minuit was a rock band, fired their singer and became a pop-ish breakbeat band and are now pretty successful and well known in NZ. They had a song on Grey's Anatomy recently, tour internationally and have released a few of their albums worldwide so are getting international exposure, which is rather good for a not-so-mainstream band from down here. Definitely way more successful than with the original singer.
posted by shelleycat at 2:36 PM on May 1, 2010


How about main song writer: Manic Street Preachers after lyricist & point person Richard James Edwards disappeared. The Elvis-like sightings since speak to his fan's commitment to him.
posted by zenon at 2:47 PM on May 1, 2010


Faith No More
posted by mannequito at 2:47 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pearl Jam (was Mookie Blaylock)
posted by vito90 at 3:04 PM on May 1, 2010


Ultravox.
posted by metagnathous at 3:07 PM on May 1, 2010


Pearl Jam (was Mookie Blaylock)

Eddie Vedder was the lead singer - this was simply a band name change.
posted by meerkatty at 3:08 PM on May 1, 2010


A second for Fleetwood Mac, but the previous mention did not address the OP's query: Peter Green, one of the founders of the band and an excellent blues musician, left before it made it big.
posted by megatherium at 3:08 PM on May 1, 2010


Okay, I should clarify a few things:

AC/DC
Joy Division
Grateful Dead

The lead singer dying doesn't count -- those bands wouldn't meet criterion 2 -- the lead singer who left the band doing fairly well for him- or herself.

Pantera

Were they really all that well-known before the original lead singer left (criterion 1)?

Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers

I think this fails criterion 1.

Van Halen

Were they more popular after David Lee Roth left? They did have a couple of hits ("Why Can't This Be Love?"), but I didn't think that they beat the DLR-era Van Halen in terms of record sales or overall popularity.

Pink Floyd
Iron Maiden
Yardbirds

I am pretty sure Iron Maiden fails criterion 2, but I'm not sure which leaving lead singer you're referring to. Same with the Yardbirds -- the follow-up band was more successful, but Keith Relf didn't really have much of a solo career afterwards, as far as I can tell. Pink Floyd might work, but again, I'm not sure how popular Syd Barrett was after being kicked out of the band.

I'm looking for bands that meet all 3 criteria, not just 1 or 2. I realize that "fairly well-known" and "fairly well for him [or her] self" are a bit subjective, so let me set some conditions, if only for the sake of simplicity:

1) Before the lead singer left, the band had at least one gold record, or at least 2 songs that charted.

2) The lead singer who went solo had at least one gold record or at least 2 songs that charted on his/her own.

3) The band did better without that departing lead singer, either in terms of record sales, or in terms of songs charted. (Not necessarily better than the lead singer's solo act, but I think that Genesis post-Gabriel sold more albums than Peter Gabriel post-Genesis.)

Obviously, "charting" is somewhat obsolete, so if there's a recent example for which a decent case can be made without the statistics, I'd be interested.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 3:16 PM on May 1, 2010


And my apologies for any confusion -- I should have made it clear than criterion 2 was important.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 3:19 PM on May 1, 2010


There have been several scattered instances of bands garnering big success with new audiences after various break-ups, adverse events and re-issues. Some examples:

* The Beach Boys had their first No. 1 hit in 22 years with Kokomo; Brian Wilson was long gone by then, and while Mike Love was the band's primary singer, Carl Wilson did most of the vocal work.

* Because of a resurgence in popularity, Rolling Stone put Jim Morrison on the cover 10 years after his death, with the classic tagline, "He's hot, he's sexy, he's dead." The Doors have sold more albums after Morrison's death than before.

* The Beatles' 1 was the best-selling album in the U.S. from 2000 - 2009.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:28 PM on May 1, 2010


Beach Boys

Except that the Beach Boys weren't more popular or better-selling post-Wilson than they were before (right? I'm actually asking, because I don't know for sure).

The Doors, The Beatles

Don't really fit the criteria -- there wasn't any remaining band in those cases.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 3:34 PM on May 1, 2010


This is a stretch, but King Crimson technically qualifies. Their first album "In the Court of the Crimson King" featured Greg Lake as the lead singer and went gold. After singling on this album Greg Lake went on to form Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. The subsequent King Crimson albums never topped the sales of their first, but they charted, and there was more than one :)
posted by waxboy at 3:56 PM on May 1, 2010


This is a stretch, but King Crimson technically qualifies.

It's a tough question, I know -- I was thinking about Peter Gabriel, for some reason, and I was surprised to realize that Gabriel/Genesis might well be a unique case.

I'm impressed that anyone was able to come up with any other example, even though it's a "stretch". Thanks, waxboy!

Anyone else?
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:01 PM on May 1, 2010


Black Flag -- I doubt they ever "charted", but I've heard good things about the Greg Ginn era band. So maybe.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:04 PM on May 1, 2010


It would have been easier to understand the question if you had given general criteria instead of describing what happened with Genesis. I don't think many, if any, of the responses here are attempts to fit every single one of your requirements (band is commercially successful with lead singer A; A leaves and has a significant solo career; band gets singer B and is even more commercially successful than it was when it had A).
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:06 PM on May 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


fleetwood mac! they were a successful band with peter green, but became superstars after he left and lindsey buckingham & stevie nicks joined. green struggled on and off with serious mental issues but has put out many albums since leaving fleetwood mac (more than they've put out without him) and is considered one of the best guitar players of all time.
posted by lia at 4:08 PM on May 1, 2010


does justin timberlake and the backstreet boys count? what about bobby brown and new edition?

i think ricky martin and menudo also fits your qualifications.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 4:24 PM on May 1, 2010


It would have been easier to understand the question if you had given general criteria instead of describing what happened with Genesis.

I agree ...

I don't think many, if any, of the responses here are attempts to fit every single one of your requirements (band is commercially successful with lead singer A; A leaves and has a significant solo career; band gets singer B and is even more commercially successful than it was when it had A).

And yes, this is what I'm after. Singer B can be internal or be recruited from outside.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:48 PM on May 1, 2010


"Were they more popular after David Lee Roth left? They did have a couple of hits ("Why Can't This Be Love?"), but I didn't think that they beat the DLR-era Van Halen in terms of record sales or overall popularity."

if you're looking at charting albums, sammy hagar wins. if you're looking at sales, well, not as much, but they certainly didn't fall down on the job.

David Lee Roth albums (US charts/sales for simplicity):
Van Halen, chart position - 19, Diamond
Van Halen II, chart position - 6, 5x Platinum
Women and Children First, chart position - 6, 3x Platinum
Fair Warning, chart position - 5, 2x Platinum
Diver Down, chart position - 3, 4x Platinum
1984, chart position 2, Diamond


Sammy Hagar albums:

5150, chart postion 1, 6x Platinum
OU812, chart postion 1, 4x Platinum
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, chart postion 1, 3x Platinum
Balance, chart postion 1, 3x Platinum
posted by nadawi at 4:50 PM on May 1, 2010


Justin Timberlake and The Backstreet Boys
Bobby Brown and New Edition

No and no -- BB and NE were significantly less popular after Justin and Bobby left.

Ricky Martin and Menudo

A special case, but I'm not even sure it works -- I thought Menudo crested in popularity before Ricky was a member.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:51 PM on May 1, 2010


Marillion may qualify, unless you are sticking to US only charting.

Marillion with Fish: 4 top 10 albums; 12 charted singles
Marillion with Steve Hogarth: 3 top 10 albums, 6 more charted albums; 19 charted singles
Fish solo: at least 10 charted singles and 8 charted albums
posted by otters walk among us at 4:52 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


All right, so we have:

Fleetwood Mac (I honestly hadn't heard of Peter Green, but the band was big when I was still very young.)

Van Halen (I had discounted them, mostly because of my emotional response to Sammy Hagar ruining the band after David Lee Roth left, but nadawi makes a strong case that they were at least as popular.)

Ultravox (John Foxx being a success, albeit a minor one.)

King Crimson (This is somewhat skewed by the fact that there was only one album with Greg Lake, and therefore the sales of all post-Lake albums might be more than the first, but it does narrowly fit the criteria.)

Marillion (One of those bands I've never heard, but I keep getting told I should listen to.)

I guess Peter Gabriel and Genesis aren't as unique as I thought. Thanks to all who answered.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 5:03 PM on May 1, 2010


doobie brothers also appear to fit. their only number one album was with their second singer. they're also fairly rare in that their original singer came back after their prime and didn't do as well.
posted by nadawi at 5:12 PM on May 1, 2010


Dixie Chicks.
posted by Yorrick at 5:26 PM on May 1, 2010


Greg Lake is on 2 King Crimson albums, Court of the Crimson King and In the Wake of Poseidon.

however, KC is a difficult case under any circumstances because they were never formed as a band per se, and Greg Lake wasn't much more than a guest vocalist in a sense. the band was never intended to be a coherent thing, more of a working title under which a group of interested artists might come together to make an album or two....

for those interested in geeking out about prog rock, wikipedia has a pretty well fleshed-out series of articles detailing the incestuous cross-overs, partner-swappings and general creative impulses of those awesome guys :)
posted by supermedusa at 5:29 PM on May 1, 2010


Barely makes it - the Jayhawks. Don't know the chart numbers, but were definitely on a big upswing with Mark Olson, then he left and they did better under Greg Louris. Olson did well in his followup band with then-wife Victoria Williams.

Not as big as the other examples, but interesting nonetheless.
posted by mikel at 5:31 PM on May 1, 2010


dixie chicks don't count as they hadn't charted an album before the singer switch, laura lynch doesn't have a solo career - and robin lynn macy doesn't have a successful post dixie chicks career under the guidelines of the question.
posted by nadawi at 5:36 PM on May 1, 2010


Oh, I didn't realise you wanted bands that fit those exact criteria.

Split Enz went from modest success (the records sold and were seen on the charts) with Phil Judd as singer/guitarist/songwriter to hit records and international exposure when Phil left and Neil Finn joined as the new singer/songwriter/guitarist. Both Phil and Neil shared singing and songwriting with Tim Finn during their respective eras. Phil did come back for a while so was in the band with Neil during that short time, but the hit singles can be pinned pretty clearly on Neil and Tim. Phil Judd went on to be in a couple of other bands that did OK (The Swingers, Schnell Fenster) and Counting the Beat is a kiwi classic, so he was successful afterwards by our standards.

I don't know about gold records or what you consider "charting". Kiwi bands of that era just didn't sell the kind of volumes you're expecting based on bands from the USA, plus even local radio play was very hard to get for a local band. They had a NZ #7 with Phil Judd then at least one NZ+Australian #1 after Neil joined as well as a lot more record sales plus sales and chart success in Canada and Britain and, to a lesser extent, USA. But yeah, by our standards of the time they definitely fit your three criteria.
posted by shelleycat at 6:13 PM on May 1, 2010


Journey kinda qualifies. Greg Rolie (who was previously in Santana) was the lead singer. Then Steve Perry joined, and Rolie became basically a backup singer. Rolie left and formed The Storm, which had an album go to #3. Meanwhile, Journey added Jonathan Cain on keyboards, with Steve Perry still on lead vocals, and they went on to greater success than they had with Greg Rolie.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:45 PM on May 1, 2010


Anthrax is close. Joey Belladonna scored critical, if not commercial success after leaving the band and Anthrax had their biggest commercial success with their first John Bush album, The Sound of White Noise.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 7:58 PM on May 1, 2010


Wall of Voodoo? They count if you allow "charted in Australia". They charted with "Mexican Radio"(#58 US) (#64 UK) (#33 AU). Then Stan Ridgeway left for a solo career, had some singles chart. Meanwhile, Wall of Voodoo recruited Andy Prieboy, and had a bigger hit (in Australia) with Far Side of Crazy (#23 AU)
posted by fings at 8:22 PM on May 1, 2010


How about The Band? They started off backing Ronnie Hawkins (who charted multiple times) before backing Bob Dylan. After that they went completely on their own and had quite a bit of success... at least two gold and one platinum albums and charted on almost every album they released.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 8:29 PM on May 1, 2010


Would you consider the Faces? Steve Marriott did well with Humble Pie and the Small Faces were quite successful after his departure (but with an augmented lineup).

Also to the person who mentioned the Jayhawks above, it's Gary, not Greg Louris.
posted by look busy at 8:30 PM on May 1, 2010


How about Black Sabbath? They were pretty successful after Ozzy Osbourne "left" (was fired, that is), and Osbourne was quite successful on his own.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:34 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most of what Deep Purple is remembered for happened after Ian Gillan replaced Rod Evans.
posted by usonian at 8:34 PM on May 1, 2010


Also: Television. Though technically Richard Hell may have been co-lead singer with Tom Verlaine. He took his best songs and achieved cult status with the Heartbreakers and Voidoids, and Television are remembered for their output after Hell's departure.
posted by look busy at 8:42 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Black Flag -- I doubt they ever "charted", but I've heard good things about the Greg Ginn era band. So maybe.

Greg Ginn was always in Black Flag; they broke up because he didn't want to do it anymore. Their lead singer progression goes something like Keith Morris -> Ron Reyes (spitefully credited as "Chavo Pederast" on First Four Years, though if you watch Decline of Western Civilization, that's shortly before he quit) -> Henry Rollins.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:21 PM on May 1, 2010


You forgot Dez Cadena who was before Henry and after Ron.
posted by cazoo at 9:29 PM on May 1, 2010


UrineSoakedRube: "Pink Floyd might work, but again, I'm not sure how popular Syd Barrett was after being kicked out of the band."

Pink Floyd definitely count - Syd certainly did well for himself later on although it could be argued that this was mostly due to his association with the band.
posted by turkeyphant at 10:30 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sugababes? Former member Mutya Buena had several songs and one album on the UK charts, but Sugababes without her were more successful.

Regarding Sugababes' first album without Buena, Change (2007): "With the release of the Dr. Luke produced single "About You Now", the Sugababes became the first female group to top the UK Singles Chart on digital downloads alone. The song also broke the record for the biggest jump to number one from inside the Top 40 (entering at no.35, though this has since been surpassed by Pink's 2008 hit "So What" which entered at no.38), and remained at number 1 for four weeks. "About You Now" was nominated for a 2008 BRIT Award for Best British Single and is to date their highest-selling single, with sales standing at almost 500,000 copies."
posted by iviken at 5:28 AM on May 2, 2010


Duran Duran seemed to do okay despite the 1979 departure of Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:24 AM on May 2, 2010


Mercury Rev
posted by Chenko at 9:37 AM on May 2, 2010


I guess John Popper was in the Spin Doctors for awhile before leaving to concentrate on Blues Traveler. This was before Spin Doctors were big though, and Popper may not have been the lead singer, but I just heard this and felt compelled to share.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:09 PM on May 2, 2010


« Older Creating editable forms in Microsoft Word/Adobe...   |   What's the famous painting of a woman lying down... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.