16 Classic Rock Bands That Reunited Without Their Lead Singer
photo credit: teamrock.com
Reconnecting after disbandment doesn’t always go smoothly. One of the most common reasons why there are bands who failed to reunite is because of the lead singer. Of course, it is undeniable that the lead singer, oftentimes, becomes the face of the band. In short, the lead singer plays a vital role in giving the band its identity.
Other instances can be chalked up to bad blood, musical differences, illness, or plain-old bad timing. In the meantime, here’s a look at the 16 groups that tried to and have successfully reunited without their original lead singer.
Lynyrd Skynyrd continued to tour and record, while the group’s lineup evolved starting from when the original frontman was involved in a plane crash. The band reunited and replaced the late Ronnie with his brother.
After the disbandment, the reunion took place, but couldn’t include original singer Keith Relf, who died in a horrific electrocution accident in 1976.
The Cars / The New Cars
The original Cars broke up in 1988 and bassist/singer Benjamin Orr had died in 2000. After the change of lineup, they reunited and revamped into the “New Cars.” In 2010, a few years after the New Cars crashed, all four surviving members of the old Cars reunited for a new album and tour.
The band members did a one-off tribute to their late comrade in 1987, after the death of Phil Lynott. The boys were back for the long haul starting in 1996, with former Lizzy guitarist John Sykes stepping into the frontman role, leading reunited members Scott Gorham, Brian Downey and Darren Wharton. While Ricky Warwick took over as Thin Lizzy’s lead singer in 2010.
The Grateful Dead
They disbanded after the death of Jerry Garcia, even though he wasn’t the only lead singer in the band. However, fellow original members formed the Other Ones in 1998, later adding fellow original member Bill Kreutzmann before switching their moniker in 2003 to the Dead. More than a decade later, it was followed by another incarnation of the band, calling it as the Dead & Company.
The Guess Who
Various versions of the Guess Who continued to perform after the breakup, including reunions of the most famous lineups and bands containing zero original members. The frontman position rotated to no less than nine singers following their 1977 reunion, including Derek Sharp.
Talking Heads / The Heads
Frustrated that singer and songwriter David Byrne disbanded Talking Heads in 1991, drummer Chris Frantz, bassist Tina Weymouth and multi-instrumentalist Jerry Harrison regrouped in 1996. They called themselves the Heads, after Byrne prevented them from using the group’s original name. Although the original foursome reunited for one three-song performance when Talking Heads were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
The band decided to continue despite Jon Anderson’s (front man and lead singer) being diagnosed with respiratory failure.
The 1994 death of Kurt Cobain officially ended Nirvana, but the band’s surviving members have reunited under special circumstances. The Nirvana guys also worked with a batch of female vocalists for the group’s 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction performance.
Two members of the California band’s classic lineup decided to reform Iron Butterfly in 1974. The guitarist, who had contributed some lead vocals during the band’s first run, took over as frontman. Iron Butterfly then moved through countless lineup changes, including repeat visits by Ingle and Brann, who died in 2003.
Creedence Clearwater Revival / Creedence Clearwater Revisited
The bad blood between frontman John Fogerty and Stu Cook and Doug Clifford only intensified a couple of decades later when the rhythm section formed Creedence Clearwater “Revisited” without John. He attempted to stop his former bandmates from using the name – even with a switch to “Revisited” – but he lost the battle in court. The group kept on chooglin’ with frontman John Tristao and later Dan McGuinness.
Alice Cooper / Billion Dollar Babies
Original Cooper bandmates Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith regrouped and formed Billion Dollar Babies (named after their former group’s hit album). With guitarist Bruce handling lead vocals after Alive Cooper decided to go solo.
Foghat finished their first run in 1984 when singer-guitarist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett headed back to England. The other members decided to reform Foghat in 1986 by tapping frontman Eric “E.J.” Burgeson. He continued to lead the band for a few years, before being replaced by Phil Nudelman and then Billy Davis. Peverett returned for most of the ’90s, until his 2000 death. Charlie Huhn subsequently took over.
The Small Faces / Faces
Lead singer Steve Marriott became frustrated with the Small Faces’ perceived limitations, and left the band on the last day of 1968. The other surviving Faces reunited in 2009.
Guitarist Robby Krieger, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and drummer John Densmore attempted to keep the Doors rolling after singer Jim Morrison’s death in 1971. They end up reuniting multiple times, but the band ended with Manzarek’s death in 2013.
T. Rex / Mickey Finn’s T-Rex
Mickey Finn’s T-Rex was founded by the band’s namesake bongo player, along with guitarist Jack Green and drummer Paul Fenton. Green initially took on lead vocals, before being replaced by Rob Benson and then Jay Spargo. The band continued despite Finn’s 2003 death. Drummer Bill Legend, who became the last surviving member of T. Rex’s early ’70s lineup, also put together a group called X-T.Rex.