Musicians Kicked Out Of Groups Just Before They Made It Big

So you've joined a band. With all the fuss and the drama of finding the right people to play with, of finding somewhere to play, of figuring out what to play — well, it probably all feels like a lot right now. But you persevere. You practice day in and day out, playing the tiny gigs, recording what you can when you can, and you think that maybe, just maybe, this might all be going somewhere.

And then you get kicked out of the band. Sorry. You just missed a few too many band practices. Or perhaps you don't mesh with some of the other musicians. Maybe they simply found someone better than you. Either way, you're done, so you pick up your instrument and walk off bitterly into the sunset. Naturally, six months later, they're the biggest band on the planet, selling out stadiums and headlining Coachella or Glastonbury or a Super Bowl, and they did it all without you. This may sound like a literal nightmare, but it actually happens. Just ask these poor souls.

Doug Sandom's career is ruined by a bad mood

You know The Who. They're one of those classic 20th-century rock bands who were so ubiquitous and well-known that the name of each and every member is basically etched into music history. Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon are all counted among the most iconic musicians of the century. Someone who isn't quite counted among the most iconic musicians of the century is a fellow called Doug Sandom.

Doug joined a band called the Detours in 1962, sticking with the band when a naming conflict — with another act called the Detours — led to the first group to rename themselves The Who. Despite that rocky start, things began to look up when the band scheduled an audition with Fontana Records, an opportunity they hoped would lead to their big break. Sadly, Sandom snuffed it: at the time, his marriage was under pressure and his age meant that he'd come to resent the time commitment the band required of its members. Because of this, he ended up in a bad mood at the wrong time. After the audition, Townshend reprimanded him for his mistakes to such an extent that Sandom was gone by the end of the day. To make matters worse, Sandom had defended Townshend's continued membership in The Who to the others only months before. Ouch.

LaTavia Roberson gets dropped so hard it hurts

Not only were Destiny's Child one of the most prolific girl groups of the '90s and early '00s, but their success has also led to titanic solo careers for some of its members, including Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and, of course, Beyoncé Knowles. The original line-up, however, looked a little different from the one you might recognize, with Williams off the roster and two other members — LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson — in her place.

Roberson was a member of Destiny's Child during the late '90s and enjoyed the band's early successes. It was only in 2000, when she and fellow band member LeToya Luckett saw the video for "Say My Name" on television, that they realized they had been unceremoniously kicked out of the group. They were replaced almost immediately by Williams and short-term member Farrah Franklin. While Roberson went on to suffer from severe bouts of depression as a result of her break-up with the band, Destiny's Child went on to become one of the most successful groups in pop history.

Jason Everman misses the boat twice, then takes one to Iraq

Jason Everman might be the only person in history to have the distinction — or the dishonor — of being kicked out of two of the world's biggest bands in his career. After a troublesome childhood developed into a love for punk rock, Everman joined a little band called Nirvana in the late '80s through a connection with a childhood friend.

He became an integral part of the band, but soon soured on the touring lifestyle and cut himself off socially from the members he shared a tour bus with. Kurt Cobain would later dismiss Everman as being nothing more than a moody metalhead, and he was kicked out of the band shortly after. Everman would then go on to join Soundgarden, an experience he appeared to enjoy far more. It was a shock to the system, then, when Chris Cornell and the rest of the band called a meeting and kicked Everman out at the end of one of their tours. According to Soundgarden's road manager, it came down to much the same reason as his dismissal from Nirvana: They felt he had a moody attitude.

Nirvana and Soundgarden soon became two of the biggest bands on the planet. Everman tried his hand with a couple different bands, before deciding to do "the most uncool thing you could possibly do" and join the U.S. Army. He ended up in the Special Forces and would go on to fight in Iraq. Heck of a story.

The Beatles' Best drummer

By far history's most notorious story of a band firing is that of Pete Best, the Fifth Beatle. Best joined the Beatles in 1960, taking on a role as the band's drummer, but his time with the band came to an end two years later after George Martin, an EMI executive, voiced his displeasure with Best's talent — or lack thereof.

He didn't last long after that. On August 16, 1962, Pete Best was dropped off at the record store owned by Beatles manager Brian Epstein. After a few moments of awkward stalling, Epstein finally informed Best he was out of the band, to be replaced by Ringo Starr. Epstein explained it was simply because they didn't think he was good enough. Best, stung by what he believed to be a betrayal, refused to play at the gigs scheduled prior to Ringo's arrival. The band's fans took it sourly, with one even attacking George Harrison outside the Cavern Club in Liverpool for the act, and John Lennon later lamented the band's cowardice in sending Epstein to do their dirty work for them.

Tracii Guns picks a fight with a Rose

The clue is in the name with this one. The latter part of the name "Guns N' Roses" refers, as you might be able to guess, to vocalist and rock icon Axl Rose. What's less well-known, however, is that the "Guns" part refers to someone, too. Tracii Guns first met Axl Rose in the mid-'80s. Tracii was in a band called L.A. Guns and brought in Axl after spotting him at a show, during which time he was singing for Hollywood Rose. Shortly after, they changed the name of L.A. Guns to Guns N' Roses.

Tracii only lasted about eight months in the band, sadly, before he and Axl found themselves engaged in a cataclysmic and slightly bigger-than-necessary fight over the inclusion of Michelle Young, a childhood friend of Slash, on a show's guest list. Tracii left the band a few shows later, having decided it simply wasn't fun anymore. Whether there was something else at play with his departure is a mystery, but it's worth pointing out that Guns was replaced, a short time later, by Slash himself. Make of that what you will.

Chris Karloff misses out on an Empire

Kasabian may not be quite as blow-your-mind successful as, say, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or Nirvana, but they haven't done badly, either. In 20 or so years, they've released half a dozen studio albums, won several awards, and even headlined Glastonbury. Chris Karloff wasn't there for much of it.

Karloff was a founding member of Kasabian, a band he formed with schoolmates Tom Meighan, Serge Pizzorno, and Chris Edwards. By the time their second album, Empire, had been released, Karloff had left the band, citing "creative differences." According to Karloff himself, he was "basically asked to leave" and doesn't really keep in touch with the rest of the band anymore. He still stands by the reason for his forcing out being a difference in opinion over the direction of the band, though. Since Kasabian, Karloff has formed another band, Black Onassis. At time of writing, Black Onassis has yet to headline Glastonbury.

Paul Di'Anno throws a massive tantrum

Metalheads might recognize Paul Di'Anno as a member of a whole range of different bands, including Killers, Praying Mantis, and Gogmagog. His early days, however, were marked by his time as the vocalist for an altogether more recognizable act: Iron Maiden. Di'Anno's gruff style was more suited to Iron Maiden's early forays into the punk movement, and he joined the band three years after its formation in 1975. By 1981, after the recording of only two studio albums, he was kicked out of the group and replaced by Bruce Dickinson.

Allegedly, Di'Anno was removed because the band (that is, Steve Harris) was unhappy with his vocal style. According to Di'Anno himself, it's because Iron Maiden is "a money-making machine," insisting that he doesn't "give a f**k about it," either. Di'Anno then responded to claims that he was pushed out for drug abuse by stating that it's necessary to take drugs when with Iron Maiden because they're "so f*****g boring." A graceful exit, then.

Dave Mustaine gets put on a bus

Metallica has always had something of a reputation for excess, so it says a lot when someone is kicked out for, uh, their excesses. That's what happened to Dave Mustaine, the band's original guitarist, in 1983. His bandmates, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Cliff Burton, woke a sorely-hungover Mustaine and informed him he was out of the band. They had even already hired his replacement, Kirk Hammett. The band then added insult to injury by refusing to fly him back to California, instead buying him a ticket for a four-day bus ride scheduled to depart from the terminal an hour after they had woken him.

It was on that bus journey that a furious Mustaine decided on the name for his next band: Megadeth. According to the band, their relationship with Mustaine has improved over recent years, and Mustaine even joined them on stage for a series of 30th-anniversary shows.

Brian Jones' tragic end

The Rolling Stones might have a solid claim to being one of the biggest rock and roll acts of all time. Their 50-year career has spawned 25 studio albums, countless awards, and some mind-bogglingly big headline shows. They're basically synonymous with the musician's lifestyle, the band every band wants to be. Just imagine, then, the scale of the tragedy behind founding member Brian Jones' departure from the group.

Described by Rolling Stone as the "soul" of the Stones, Jones was a crucial member of the band, appearing most often before the media to defend their style and even standing out at the front of most publicity shots in the band's early days. He remained with the band as they took their first steps on the long road to success, but it came at a price: He was convicted of possession of cannabis in 1967 and suffered from severe mental health issues as a result of the pressure placed on his everyday life. In 1969, after a second bust for possession had put even more pressure on both his physical health and the band, he announced his departure from the Rolling Stones, citing a difference in music policy as the reason. Jones was found dead in his own swimming pool only a month later. He was 27 years old.

Glen Matlock is fired by the Pistols

Glen Matlock was working in a clothes shop in 1974 when he met Steve Jones and Paul Cook. In 1975, they decided to form a band along with John Lydon. They began to record music, but Matlock left the band in 1977. Officially he left by "mutual consent," although their manager Malcolm McLaren later said it was because he "liked the Beatles." He was replaced by Sid Vicious, and the band, called The Sex Pistols, went on to become punk icons.

Ever since, Steve Jones has derided Matlock as a "mommy's boy," claimed he was "a bit of a wanker," and insisted that his impact on the band's music was less than Matlock would later claim. Matlock would go on to form the Rich Kids, a band that managed a few decent hits before disappearing into obscurity. He would also guest on various records by other musicians, tour with Iggy Pop, and join a supergroup (Dead Men Walking) in 2001 with members of The Cult, The Alarm, and Stray Cats.

Doug Hopkins' career ends in tragedy

Doug Hopkins was a musician from Arizona who formed a band called Gin Blossoms in 1987. The group took off, eventually signing a recording contract with A&M, a career decision that didn't really sit right with Hopkins. They carried on, however, recording the music that would eventually come together to become the band's first full album with A&M. Before it was released, however, Hopkins was fired from the band at A&M's request after his drinking became too much of a problem for the group. What began as disaster soon turned into a waking nightmare: New Miserable Experience, an album Hopkins had taken the lead in writing, went on to become a chart success. 

Over the course of his life, Hopkins had struggled with alcoholism and depression. Perhaps these demons, combined with his own personal feelings of betrayal, and the distress he felt at his music making his ex-bandmates rich and famous all proved too much. In 1993, he shot himself in the head in his own apartment.

Danny Kirwan succumbs to the Fleetwood Curse

Fleetwood Mac is a band that — to put it mildly — is not unfamiliar with the occasional tumultuous lineup change. In fact, the only two members who have remained in the band since its inception in the late '60s are Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. Aside from them, it's pretty much a free-for-all. Among the many casualties of Fleetwood Mac is Danny Kirwan.

Kirwan joined the band in 1968 at the age of 18. The other band members at the time were McVie, Fleetwood, Peter Green, and Jeremy Spencer — and they were more of a blues outfit than the anthemic rock outfit they would later become. Kirwan stuck with the band even as Green and Spencer departed for pastures new, but he still wouldn't quite make it to the big time. His issues with alcoholism and mental health made him too difficult to work with. He was forced out of the group in 1972.

Al Bryant's demons get the better of him

Elbridge Bryant, known to his friends as "Al," was a member of The Distants from their formation right through to their rebranding, first as The Elgins and then, after being signed to Motown, as The Temptations. The group first appeared in the R&B charts in 1962 with a handful of successful songs (and a brief, unfortunate third rebranding which led them to become The Pirates), but failed to really take off until 1964, when they released "The Way You Do the Things You Do," their first Top 20 hit.

Bryant was the oldest of the group, but he had become a heavy drinker earlier in life. In 1963, about a year before that first hit, he had been kicked out of the group. His alcoholism caused erratic behavior and had begun to threaten the fabric of the team. By 1975, he was dead after a long fight with cirrhosis of the liver.

Pete Willis is forced into a drastic career change

Pete Willis was a founding member of Def Leppard, having met fellow bandmates Rick Savage and Tony Kenning at school during the '70s. Willis was with the band during the recording and release of their first two albums, On Through the Night and High 'n' Dry, both of which helped to put Def Leppard's name on the map. During the recording of Pyromania, however, things turned sour. Willis had a serious drinking problem to the point that he had become unable to play in the studio. The album's producer, Mutt Lange, refused to work with him again, and the rest of the band decided he had to go.

His replacement, Phil Collen, was brought in almost immediately. The band finished recording Pyromania, which sold over 10 million copies and went on to become one of the best-selling albums in history. Willis went on to run a property management company in Sheffield.

TLC drops the 'C'

In 1990, Crystal Jones devised a girl group that would skirt the line between hip-hop and R&B. Working with a local record producer, she recruited two bandmates to join her in this endeavor: Lisa Lopes and Tionne Watkins. The group (originally known as 2nd Nature) scored an audition in front of Perri "Pebbles" Reid, who suggested they rename to TLC-Skee. They were then brought to the attention of LaFace Records and Antonio Reid.

Here's when things fell apart for Jones. A documentary film called CrazyS*xyCool: The TLC Story suggested she was kicked out around this time because she couldn't sing. However, according to Jones, when she was presented with a lengthy contract, she asked Pebbles whether she could take it home for her mother to look over. Pebbles refused, demanding she sign it immediately, and Jones said no. Either way, Crystal was soon replaced with another "C" — Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas — and the group went on to achieve a torrent of success during the '90s.

Henry Padovani is chased out by The Police

Who are The Police? Ask anyone and they'll give you Sting. Ask anyone who knows music and they'll probably give you Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland. Only a few die-hard fans, however, are likely to offer up the name Henry Padovani. Padovani was a Corsican guitarist who was recruited to the band before Summers. He played a number of small venues with them and helped record some of their earliest work, during the late '70s.

Padovani's biggest problem was Summers' arrival into the band. Sting and Copeland had already convinced Summers to join the band and ever so briefly, The Police existed as a four-piece. Summers, however, insisted on being the band's only guitarist. By August 1977 — only months after the group had formed — Padovani was gone, and the new lineup eventually took the world by storm. Padovani went on to play with a whole host of other bands before becoming an executive at IRS Records.

The Rolling Stones lose a member but gain a roadie

Brian Jones wasn't the only victim of the success of The Rolling Stones — but, as his tragic end proves, it could have been far worse for this one. Ian Stewart was one of the band's original six members. During the band's earliest days, he would play the piano and the keyboards for the band and helped guide the group more toward blues and jazz. What's more, he basically ran the show logistically, driving the van, carrying gear, running sound checks, and making sure everybody got to stage on time.

Soon, however, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger began to take the band in a rockier direction, which proved unsatisfactory for Stewart, who insisted they keep to their R&B roots. The influence of their new manager Andrew Oldham (who wasn't exactly a fan of Stewart's look) led to Stewart being fired from the band. Stewart took his firing on the chin and agreed to stay on as a road manager. He would continue in this job for decades to come.

Michelle Stephenson misses the Spice Bus

In 1994, an advertisement was placed in a British magazine asking for singers to audition for a new all-girl pop group. Five women were chosen: Victoria Adams, Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown, Geri Halliwell and Michelle Stephenson. Stephenson, the first to be picked for the group, was a life-long performer who had studied theatre and English at university and performed at the Young Vic and the National Youth Theatre.

Shortly after her successful audition, she moved into a house with the other girls and began, they hoped, to prepare for fame and fortune. It didn't take long, however, for tensions to grow between Stephenson and the others. She kept a job on the side (rather than relying on the pocket money given to the other girls by their producers), kept open the option of returning to university, and according to the rest of the band, "lacked the intensity or enthusiasm to learn." Stephenson was asked to leave the band and left to travel Europe before returning to her studies. Her old bandmates replaced her with Emma Bunton, became known as the Spice Girls, and found their fame and fortune within a matter of years.

Chad Channing finds a new direction

Chad Channing was a musician from California who joined a band called Nirvana in 1988. Together, they recorded the songs that would become their first album, Bleach, which was a moderate success for the band. In no time at all, however, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic had become frustrated with Channing's input, while Channing himself began to recognize certain creative differences in his view of where the band should go. In 1990, he departed the band and was replaced by Dave Grohl. Despite all this, he remained on good terms with the rest of the group.

Decades after the split, Channing recalled, "the reality is I didn't really give them much of a choice but to kick me out of the band. It was a situation that I should have quit ... before I was kicked out." Nirvana's second album, Nevermind, was released a year later. You've probably heard of it.