11 Rock Bands That Have Persisted After The Departure Of Their Lead Singer

11 Rock Bands That Have Persisted After The Departure Of Their Lead Singer

quuen freddie mercury
Freddie Mercury and Brian May of Queen, 1977. Photo by Lex van Rossen/MAI/Redferns/Getty Images.

Regardless of the reason for the breakup between the singer and the other members, it is never easy for a band to continue the adventure and find a replacement of the same class or caliber as the original. Or, continue as a band without replacing them at all. 

Some groups in the history of rock have persisted in continuing to tour and record despite the absence of their iconic frontman.

For better or for worse. Here are a few cases. 


After the death of Michael Hutchence, the group stopped its activities for some time. For years, INXS performed sporadically with guest singers. They decided to take drastic measures in order to find a worthy successor to Hutchence and in 2005, engaged in the first season of the reality show American Rock Star, in which singers competed to be part of INXS. 

Canadian JD Fortune won the title. He stayed with INXS until 2010. Prominent guest singers for INXS have included Jon Stevens (Noiseoworks), and Suze DeMarchi (Baby Animals) though neither were permanent. 

The Doors

Hard to imagine the legendary group without its King Lizard. However, after the death of Jim Morrison in 1971, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robbie Krieger have tried to share the vocals on two albums. The group emerged, renamed The Doors of the 21st Century, with Ian Astbury, singer of The Cult, as a replacement.

Rumour has it the remaining members of the Doors had tried in vain to convince Iggy Pop to replace Morrison in 1971. Iggy Pop had declined the offer under the pretext that it would be “ghoulish and disrespectful” to Jim. 

The Cars

After their split in 1988, Ric Ocasek was adamant there would never be a reunion. That’s not a problem though because two other members of the Cars “founded” the New Cars in 2005, and have added Todd Rundgren on vocal duty for both recording and touring. 

It should be noted, though, that Ocasek wasn’t the only singer in the group. The bassist Orr lends his voice to several hits by the Cars.

Black Sabbath

After leaving the group briefly for the first time in 1978, Ozzy Osbourne was replaced by Dave Walker. But Ozzy returned to the charge in 1979… to be thanked by the group in the same year!

The most illustrious of the successors of Ozzy was Ronnie James Dio. Even though Sabbath had a hit again with Heaven and Hell released in 1980. But, Dio decided to strike out on his own in 1983. Sabbath began the search to find a new singer, of which several took up the honour including; Ian Gillan (ex-singer of Deep Purple), David Donato, Ray Gillen, Glen Hughes and Tony Martin.

Ozzy finally returned to the helm of the group in 1997. Black Sabbath officially announced they would no longer tour after 2017. 


Rarely a change of singer has been as successful in a group. Without taking anything away from the imposing presence and the voice of Bon Scott (who died in 1980), Brian Johnson has managed to preserve the reputation of AC/DC. His hearing problems, unfortunately, forced him to leave his place to Axl Rose for some services during the tour of 2016. 

Lynyrd Skynyrd

A plane crash caused the death of three members, including singer Ronnie Van Zant, in 1977. Ten years later, the latter’s brother, Johnny Van Zant, comes to lend a hand to the group by becoming their new singer.


This transition between the departure of Peter Gabriel and the arrival of Phil Collins as the lead singer of the group in 1977, will continue to feed the discussion among music lovers. The group’s sound was changed forever. If you want to pick a fight with a fan of progressive rock, tell him that you prefer "Invisible Touch" or "I Can’t Dance" to any opus of the Gabriel era.


Steve Perry, who left Journey in 1998, forced the band to search for a new singer. It is not easy to replace a voice like that of Perry.

Steve Augeri tried to meet the challenge until 2006. Jeff Scott Soto has also held the position briefly until 2007. Just prior to the triumphant arrival of Arnel Pineda, of the Philippines, spotted on Youtube. The hiring of Pineda in the group is the subject of a documentary, Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman's Journey.

Van Halen

How to replace a frontman so charismatic, even in spandex who wowed the crowd with his acrobatics? Ask Sammy Hagar, already an old hand of rock n roll when he joined Van Halen to replace David Lee Roth.

Even if his style is less flamboyant than the one dubbed “Diamond Dave”, Haggar recorded 3 albums with Van Halen between 1985 and 1993.


A few years after the death of Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have appeared sporadically in concert with guest vocalists, but never under the name of 'Queen'. 

It was not until 2004 that Paul Rodgers, formerly of Free and Bad Company, took to the front of the stage for Queen. The group's name changed to Queen + Paul Rodgers.

Since 2012, Adam Lambert has sung with Queen for a few world tours, dividing Queen fans, until they see him live of course and notice how respectfully he serves Freddie. 

Judas Priest

Tim “Ripper” Owens, a fan of Judas Priest, replaced his idol Rob Halford on vocals in 1996. Finally, fans of Judas Priest, claiming to long for the return of Halford, forced Owens, as a true gentleman, to leave it in its place in 2003.

The screenplay for the movie Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg is inspired by the epic story of Tim “Ripper” Owens and the quest to make his dreams come true. 


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