The most unfortunate musician replacements in rock history

This may shock you, but most bands don't stay together in their original form forever. You see, rock musicians tend to have egos that are a touch inflated compared to us mortals, and the fact that they make their money looking cool and getting underwear thrown at them has a way of making many of them think the good times will keep rolling forever, with or without their bandmates.

You may also be surprised to learn that popular rock bands are kind of like great big money printing machines, usually backed up by stodgy corporate types in suits who have a vested interest (and also an interest in vests, but that's beside the point) in making sure the Rock Bus keeps chugging along even if one or more wheels comes flying off. Like a writer who mixes metaphors willy-nilly, these bands may find themselves obliged to play musical chairs with their lineups, bringing in relatively unknown entities to replace iconic favorites and just sort of hoping fans will be cool about it. This, of course, is ridiculous. Rock fans can be just as picky, opinionated and stubborn as anyone, and there are plenty of instances of lesser-known musicians landing the dream gig of playing in legendary bands only to find that said fans have suddenly put away their lighters and are now lofting pitchforks.

Failin' in Van Halen

Founding member David Lee Roth may not have been the greatest vocalist on Earth, but he was the consummate showman and a perfect fit for fun-loving Southern California rockers Van Halen. Fans of the band were split down the middle when Roth — only two years removed from the monster hit album 1984 — was replaced by veteran vocalist Sammy Hagar. While Hagar's vibe was certainly different from Roth's, the band would crank out some of their biggest hits with the Red Rocker behind the mic. Of course, Van Halen's infighting and crappy interpersonal dynamics are almost as legendary as the band itself, and after a decade, Hagar had also had enough. For his replacement, Eddie and the boys turned to former Extreme lead singer Gary Cherone. The move looked good on paper, but unfortunately, albums aren't recorded on paper.

Cherone made his debut on the band's 11th album, Van Halen III (hey, nobody said you had to be a math major to rock), and while he acquitted himself fairly admirably, fans found him a less-than-ideal choice. That is to say, they couldn't stand him. After three years and that lone album, Cherone departed, saying, "some of the fans will never want me or anyone else in the band." How right he was — in 2003, Hagar returned to the fold, until he remembered why he left in the first place and made way for Roth's return in 2007.

The Who's fans will never be over the Moon

With the possible exception of Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, Keith Moon of The Who was the most insanely gifted drummer of the album rock era. Emphasis on "insanely," because this musician's superhuman feats of drummery were matched only by his superhuman ability to vacuum up all the alcohol and drugs in any room at any given time. "Moon the Loon" was simply irreplaceable, but that didn't stop the band from trying; after his 1978 drug overdose death, they turned to former Faces drummer Kenney Jones, a well-regarded professional and drinking buddy of guitarist Pete Townshend — a move that went over, well, like a lead zeppelin.

Jones struggled to adapt to the band's changing, more commercial sound, manning the skins for only two albums — 1981's Face Dances and 1982's It's Hard. Roger Daltrey spoke about his tenure in a 1994 interview: "I just felt that Keith was such an extraordinary drummer, to try and replace him was just ridiculous. … I'm not saying he's a bad drummer. I'm not saying he's a bad guy. I didn't dislike the guy, but I just felt he wasn't the right drummer for the Who." Jones was officially let go in 1989, and perhaps it's that search for Moon's perfect replacement that has kept them going through about 16 farewell tours.

Blaze Bayley proves a sweet name isn't enough for Maiden

When iconic vocalist Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden in 1993 to focus on a solo career, the band auditioned a slew of potential replacements, including former Wolfsbane singer Blaze Bayley. Despite having a completely different vocal style from Dickinson, Bayley became the immediate favorite, and after being officially hired in 1994 he made his first appearance as Maiden's new lead singer on the following year's The X Factor. It was a dream come true for any guy named "Blaze," but even a vocalist that accomplished couldn't sway the band's fans, who literally would rather have had a Bruce Dickinson-shaped cardboard cutout on stage.

Bayley lasted three years and one more album (1998's Virtual XI) before Dickinson, whose solo career didn't exactly shake the Earth, gave the fans what they wanted and returned to the group. Speaking to rock journalist Mitch Lafon in 2014, Bayley remembered, "When I joined [the band], there were a lot of people who just resented me and actually hated me … because they blamed me for Bruce leaving, which is a classic girlfriend problem, where you blame your friend for your girlfriend leaving or whatever. But a lot of people didn't wanna listen to me." Bayley has gone on to a respectable indie solo career, and while he looks back on his time in Iron Maiden as being pretty excellent, he still thinks the fan treatment of him was bogus.

Crue fans feel Cor-robbed

Vince Neil's bleach-blond, pug-faced visage was the face of Motley Crue throughout the band's '80s heyday, and at the end of that decade they notched their greatest commercial success with 1989's Dr. Feelgood. The album went straight to #1, remained on the charts for a staggering 114 weeks, and cemented Crue as the premier rockers of the day — right before Nirvana came along to jerk the rug right out from under the Crue and any other purveyor of so-called "hair metal." Undeterred, the band regrouped to follow up their biggest record with another dose of glitzy L.A. rock — but then Neil, due to the ever-popular "internal disagreements," bolted.

In need of new pipes, the Crue recruited John Corabi, the former front man for little-known band The Scream. By the time Corabi made his first appearance on the band's self-titled 1994 release, however, a perfect storm of indifference was brewing. Label Elektra, in the middle of a major shakeup, couldn't be bothered to promote its product — and Neil's absence meant even fans who were aware of the record's release generally held it in open contempt. It was Corabi's lone outing with the band, as Neil returned for 1997's Generation Swine — but not everyone thinks Corabi's tenure should be consigned to the trash heap of metal history. "I'll probably get kicked in the nuts for this," guitarist Mick Mars said in an interview years after the fact, "but I thought it was a really great album."

A big fat No for Yes

When your lead singer has one of the most instantly recognizable (and difficult to imitate) voices in the world, replacing him isn't quite as simple as placing an ad on Craigslist. Just ask the venerable prog-rock outfit Yes, which has struggled during multiple periods to maintain its identity without singer Jon Anderson and his crazy alto vocal range. In a period of turmoil in the early '80s, during which Anderson and legendary keyboardist Rick Wakeman departed, the band attempted to fill the gap with Trevor Horn of the Buggles (that band that warned us about video killing the radio star). That endeavor lasted for one album before Horn's throat began to self-destruct under the demands of imitating Anderson.

Anderson rejoined the band in time for their smash 1983 record 90125 and remained until 2008, when health problems forced him out. The remaining members saddled up with Benoit David, formerly the lead singer in a Yes cover band, without even telling Anderson. Fans were unimpressed with the new karaoke version of their favorite band, and Anderson himself lobbed a few disses their way in a Rolling Stone interview: "The new singer is singing good, but it sounded a bit dated to me. Also, the production wasn't as good as I expected. They've got a great producer. … What the hell are you doing?" David couldn't have been that good — Yes eventually re-released the only album he appeared on, 2011's Fly From Here, with new vocals by Horn.

The court case of Kennedys' singer

Speaking of instantly recognizable voices, punk fans had every reason to be wary when — after a none-too-friendly breakup in 1986 — the Dead Kennedys announced in 2001 that they were moving forward without lead singer Jello Biafra, the Gilbert Gottfried of rock. Short of recruiting Gottfried himself, it didn't seem like the band had a lot of options for replacing Biafra's frantic, swaggering stage persona and his bleating vocal style, but the guy they ended up picking — the former lead singer of punk band Dr. Know, Brandon Cruz — seemed like a choice specifically engineered to make Kennedys fans flip their mohawks.

This is because Cruz wasn't just any old punker guy. He began his career in entertainment as a child actor and achieved considerable fame in the 1970s as the star of The Courtship of Eddie's Father, opposite future Hulk Bill Bixby. Cruz had somehow managed to parlay his squeaky-clean image into a post-television career in punk rock, but his tenure in the Kennedys became an immediate lightning rod for controversy, not to mention lawsuits. Biafra regarded Cruz as little more than a "scab singer," alleging that Cruz had modified his stage presence to more closely match Biafra's and that the reformed band was essentially pulling a bait-and-switch on fans. Biafra sued for damages over the "impersonator," a suit which went nowhere, likely because Cruz bailed after just a couple years to be replaced by a succession of no-name singers who were never child stars.

Sublime with Some Guy is not so sublime

For fans of ska-punk outfit Sublime, 1996 was the ultimate double-edged sword. The band finally managed to achieve commercial success with their self-titled third album, scoring a #1 hit single with "What I Got" — mere months after the death of lead singer Bradley Nowell. In accordance with Nowell's wishes, the band broke up rather than carry on without him — until 2009, when the remaining members apparently decided Nowell had been dead long enough that his wishes no longer mattered.

They recruited new singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez — a Sublime super-fan with the advantage of knowing all the band's songs and the distinct disadvantage of being a really crappy singer — and reformed the band for about six seconds before they were dragged into court by Nowell's family over their use of the Sublime name. The court ruled against the band, so they tacked "with Rome" onto the end of the moniker and went about their business. About a decade and two poorly received albums later, the band (minus original drummer Bud Gaugh, who departed after the retooled outfit's first album) continues to tour and perform, but if you're really that hard-up to see Sublime songs performed live, most fans would recommend skipping the expensive concert ticket and simply heading to your neighborhood karaoke bar for a similar experience.

Red Hot Chili Peppers lose their heat

In a band full of Red Hot Chili Peppers, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer has always been a bit of a … banana. The Peppers' longtime backup tour guitarist officially stepped in for departing longtime axeman John Frusciante in 2009, replacing Frusciante's virtuoso funk craziness with a decidedly more minimalist style. To his credit, he obviously never intended to replicate what Frusciante brought to the band. But given his tendency to constantly second-guess whether he's sufficiently living up to his predecessor's legacy, it might very well be better if he had.

Of course, the strong contingent of fans still pining for Frusciante's return don't exactly help. Having been a member for years and recorded two albums with the band, Klinghoffer got a little testy when the subject of Frusciante was broached in an interview with Russian media outlet Metro News. "Of course it gets annoying. On one hand it's an honor for me to be part of this band, and be mentioned in the same breath as Frusciante. But all these comparisons are simply absurd. We are two totally different people. … Seriously, anyone trying to compare us is an idiot." Given the fact that RHCP fans literally can't help but compare Klinghoffer to the band's longest-tenured guitarist, and also considering his public criticism of the band's recording technique and their concert attendees for having the gall to take pictures during their performances, it seems like Klinghoffer is doing everything he can to talk himself out of a pretty sweet gig.

Fame, Fortune and homelessness

After the tragic suicide of lead singer Michael Hutchence in 1997, the venerable Australian rock band INXS carried on with a number of temporary singers before deciding to permanently replace Hutchence in 2005. They did this in the most rock 'n' roll, legacy-honoring way possible: with a freaking reality show. Rock Star: INXS pitted 15 contestants against each other for a chance to rock in the big leagues. Despite being the underdog to fan favorite Marty Casey, Canadian singer J.D. Fortune took home the big prize, joining the band on tour and for the recording of their 2005 album Switch. Before his big win, he had been broke, homeless, and living in his car. Unfortunately, his time fronting one of the Land Down Under's biggest bands only gave him a temporary reprieve from that.

While an adequate replacement, Fortune admitted that he abided by the terms of his Contract with the Devil (which, of course, all rock stars must sign in their own blood) by getting way, way too into cocaine. At the end of a 23-month tour, the band let him know that his services would no longer be required by offering him a firm handshake and ditching him at an airport in Hong Kong. The ironically unfortunate singer ended up in the exact same situation he had been in before his big win — homeless and broke — but now with a shiny new drug habit to keep him company.

Something off about Purple Sabbath

When Ozzy Osbourne departed Black Sabbath to embark on a solo career in 1979, the band found perhaps the only musician capable of replacing Ozzy's distinctive shriek in Ronnie James Dio, one of the most powerful metal vocalists to ever live. But even the legendary Dio's tenure in the band was divisive among fans, so when the singer left to start his own eponymous outfit in 1983, some might have expected Sabbath to seek out a singer who was a bit more Ozzy-like. Instead, they turned to former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, who was the exact opposite of Ozzy-like.

Gillan came on board for the band's 1983 release Born Again, an experiment in clashing styles that made headbangers bang their heads against their stereos. Not even Gillan's soaring voice could hide his corny lyrics (they even bled through in song titles like "Zero the Hero" and "Disturbing the Priest"), which rubbed up uneasily against Sabbath's dark, gloomy vibe. The collaboration only lasted for that one album, after which Gillan returned to Deep Purple and Sabbath fans were left wondering how anyone thought the pairing was a good idea. The answer should have been obvious: As guitarist Tony Iommi recounted in an interview years later, he invited Gillan to join the band after the two got drunk off their faces at an Oxford pub. So Black Sabbath can't even make a giant mistake without doing it in the most metal way possible.