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Changing Line Ups: Good/Bad?

I find the question interesting in that many people say they love a band, but can’t name more than maybe the singer or the lead guitarist. I’m not even sure they would know members had left or were replaced in their favorite band. I hear it all the time, I love (insert band here), and they are so great. You ask them about who is in the band or favorite albums and they look at you with a blank face. They probably don’t know the line ups are changing in some of the bands they so call love. Maybe I take it too seriously, but I would think you would know something about your fave band as it were. There is also the so called die hards, and nothing is ever as good as the original or some other line up. It’s very rare to have a line up that stays together today. What I mean is the line up from their debut to the present. Here are some of them:

  1. ZZ Top

  2. U2

  3. Clutch

  4. Radiohead

  5. Mastodon

  6. Rammstein

Others who have reunited, but had member changes in the past but are originals now:

  1. Aerosmith

  2. Motley Crue

  3. Stryper

  4. Primus

I’m sure I left out a few, but overall a very short list. Many would say Rush, but John Rutsey was the original drummer. Now there are many bands that made changes, grew in popularity or were considered an improvement. There are many of these bands. AC/DC when they recruited Brian Johnson, Back In Black was huge. When Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth and sold more records than they did with the original line up. Any version of Steve Perry with Journey. The Mach 2 line up of Deep Purple is probably the most famous, with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover joining, maybe even Mach 3 with Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale. Dio replacing Ozzy in Black Sabbath, a band that is up there with line up changes, maybe even earned a record. Fleetwood Mac started out as a blues band and when the line up that made the Rumors album came out, it changed everything for them. In fact, it was the only line up that was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame. How crazy is that? Anyway, I think you get the point.

There are the passionate fans of bands like KISS, who swear by the original line up, yet the band had much success over the years with (reunion) and without them, especially in the Eighties. But at least they are half the original line up. But I’m not sure how many people realize there are bands that have one, that’s right, one original member in the band that are still making records and touring. The biggest probably is Guns And Roses with Axl Rose. Tour sells out, people wait for a new record, etc. Lynyrd Skynyrd, only has Gary Rossington, the guitarist. Foreigner, Smashing Pumpkins, Motorhead, Jethro Tull, REO Speedwagon,  Foghat, Boston, Yes, and the Dropkick Murphys just to name a few. Better yet, there are bands with no original members left, really there is, just look at Quiet Riot and the Misfits.

That being said, I think it comes down to, is it good music,  a good album, and will you see them live? I know people who pay good money to see tribute bands. Look at Dark Star Orchestra (Grateful Dead Tribute), Brit Floyd (Pink Floyd Tribute) and many of The Beatles ones. Tickets start at $25+ for these bands and they have nothing to do with the original or any other line up. I paid over $50 to see Jason Bonham’s Led Zep Experience (at least he had a blood line). Some people feel that these bands without all original members are a tribute or a cover band, but yet they sell records and shows. I guess to me as long as it’s good music and I enjoy it, I will be okay with it over the long haul. I know some will argue that I’m a purist at heart when it comes to KISS, but that’s not really true. I love the original line up and was very happy they did a reunion, but I’m fine with the current line up, they still make good music. I have a bigger issue with the make up, but that story is for another day. You tell me does it matter who’s in the band or not?

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