Who the hell are these guys?
When a musical group loses one (or more) of its key members, such as the lead singer or a similar Face of the Band
figure, it usually breaks up—but not always. Occasionally, a band tries to continue without its "face". Sometimes the group tries to replace the departed member, sometimes not. (If this happens, the new member is dismissed by fans as The Other Darrin
or a Replacement Scrappy
.) Either way, more often than not, the result is a Dethroning Moment of Suck
, and the band rarely lasts more than one or two more albums. It can also lead to both Canon Discontinuity
and Fanon Discontinuity
, as performers and fans all try to forget the inferior post-face recordings ever existed. However, on rare occasions, a band gets lucky and averts the trope by attracting a new, larger audience.
Many bands both avert this trope and play it straight; it isn't uncommon for a band to survive the departure of one key member only to later see their popularity fade after the loss of a different member.
In a related phenomenon, sometimes a famous singer's backing band takes a "vacation" from its leader, releasing its own original material while still under the singer's employ.
Compare and contrast the musical applications of Growing the Beard
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- Accept have had this twice. The first time, they replaced iconic lead singer Udo Dirkschneider with David Reece. The resulting album, Eat the Heat, was derided as being too commercial, and they quickly split up. The second time, Udo was replaced by Frank Tornillo. However, since Blood of the Nations has received fairly good reviews, this may count as an aversion.
- When Alice Cooper transitioned from being a band to being a solo act, the original members of the band other than Alice Cooper himself (along with an additional guitarist\vocalist and keyboardist) became Billion Dollar Babies. Their lone album, 1977's Battle Axe, didn't do well critically or commercially, and now it's mostly known as a footnote to Alice Cooper's career.
- Bad Religion lost their lead guitarist and co-songwriter, Brett Guerwitz, twice. The first was for a single EP that most fans have never even heard (the Old Shame that preceded it reluctantly included Guerwitz). The second was for several years on a major label, spanning three albums. While The New America is considered a reasonable album, the other two are a Dork Age, mostly from Greg Graffin not being able to come up with enough album-worthy material by himself in a just a year or two. Worth noting is that Guerwitz appears as a guest guitarist on The New America and returned to the band full-time for their next album.
- Another band that suffered following the departure of its lead singer was Big Brother and the Holding Company. After Janis Joplin left, the band recruited several new members (including two replacement vocalists) and released Be a Brother. Few accepted the invitation, which may be why Big Brother's next album (and their last for 15 years) was titled How Hard It Is.
- After Shannon Hoon's death, Blind Melon reformed with a vocalist who had a somewhat similar style and released one album under the name Unified Theory; years later they reformed again with a vocalist with a very similar singing style, this time touring and releasing an album under the Blind Melon name again. Both albums had relatively good reception from fans, but didn't attract much attention outside of the fan base.
- By 1985, The Clash had lost two of its classic lineup, Mick Jones and Topper Headon. The two left behind, Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon, recruited some new musicians and recorded Cut the Crap— an ironic title, considering that the album was rejected by most fans, most critics, and the band itself. With the exception of one well-regarded track, the single "This Is England", Cut the Crap has been purged from Clash history. Strummer himself said in a 1989 interview, "I often think of [the new members]. I hope it didn't mess up their lives too much".
- The Dead Kennedys' messy breakup resulted in the band continuing to tour without singer Jello Biafra, angering fans who felt that the new version of the DK's betrayed everything the original group stood for. (This may help explain why the new DK's have gone through no less than four singers.) Atypically for this trope, the post-Biafra Dead Kennedys haven't attempted any new material; all their releases since the split have been compilations or live albums dating from the Biafra era.
- The Russian band Diskoteka Avariya suffered from this twice. Up until 2002, while there was no official face for the band, rapper Oleg Zhukov was the most popular member, not only due to his stature and tendency to pop up for one verse in every song, but also to his charisma, comedic timing, very good rapping skills and recognizable voice. Not to mention, that the other members (mostly self-effacing composer/lyricist/keyboardist/occasional rapper Alexey Ryzhov and two virtually interchangeable vocalists Nikolay Timofeev and Alexey Serov) didn't particularly stand out. Zhukov died in 2002, and the band decided to go on, with Pretty Boy Timofeev as the band's official face, but the loss had clearly hit their popularity hard. In 2012, Timofeev either left the band or was fired from it (it depends on who you ask) , and was replaced by a female singer. This, combined with a mostly badly-received Genre Shift reportedly turned away most of their older fans.
- Most people agree that Don Caballero hasn't been the same since guitarist Ian Williams left. The bassist quit shortly after he did, leaving only drummer Damon Che left. Che tried to salvage the band, but the results were...disappointing, to say the least.
- After Jim Morrison died in 1971, the surviving members of The Doors recorded two albums without him, Other Voices (shown above) and Full Circle. The albums were eventually forgotten and are not included in reissues of the Doors' catalog.
- When Vancouver-based band Doug And The Slugs stopped recording studio albums, lead singer Doug Bennett toured for a good 12 years with a rotating group of backing musicians, still billing them as Doug And The Slugs. Following his death in 2004, the other original band members reunited with a new singer and are now touring as Doug And The Slugs despite not having Doug.
- Once Gary Numan temporarily retired as a live act in 1981, his backing band went on as Dramatis. Their lone album, For Future Reference, had keyboardist Chris Payne taking lead vocals, and mimicked Numan's science-fiction-themed Synth Pop to some extent. They did manage a top 40 hit in the UK with "Love Needs No Disguise", which featured Gary Numan himself on guest vocals. Otherwise, they're largely a footnote to Gary Numan's career, enough so that when their album finally saw release on CD in 2000, it was repackaged as an album called The Dramatis Project by Tubeway Army Featuring Gary Numan.
- Guns N' Roses (seen in the averted examples) could also be seen as an inversion - all but Axl Rose left. The "new" GNR put out Chinese Democracy and many fans declared it a massive failure, pretending it was never made.
- Highway 101's fortunes faded fast after lead singer Paulette Carlson left and Nikki Nelson took her place. Carlson later rejoined the band, but after she left a second time, Chrislynn Lee replaced her. Then Lee left and Nelson rejoined.
- After lead singer Allan Clarke left The Hollies in 1971, the band hired an unknown Swedish singer named Mikael Rickfors to replace him. Rickfors was solid in the studio, but live shows were another matter. Rickfors completely lacked Clarke's charisma on stage, and his sound was so different from Clarke's that when the band tried to play their old hits, the results sounded strange and awkward. The albums recorded with Rickfors are highly regarded, but were commercial failures that sounded nothing like the trademark Hollies sound. The band eventually reunited with Clarke, and Rickfors was let go.
- When original singer Edwin left I Mother Earth, they managed to put out two more albums with Brian Byrne before imploding, though admittedly there were other factors. On the other hand, four studio albums is an impressive catalogue for an early 90s Canadian alt-rock band, since most were lucky to get to three.
- After Michael Hutchence, the singer for INXS, tragically died in 1997, the group continued on with a new lead singer named Jon Stevens, who joined the group in 2002. Stevens then quit the group a year later to focus on a solo career, and the band eventually became involved with the Rock Star television series, where they crowned Canadian unknown J.D. Fortune as the new lead singer. Fortune released an album with the group (which received moderately good reviews and spawned a surprise top 40 hit with "Pretty Vegas"), the band "fired" him via an informal handshake at a Hong Kong airport, and they are once again without a singer.
- When charismatic singer Peter Wolf left the J. Geils Band, the lead vocal duties were handed over to keyboardist Seth Justman. This arrangement lasted for all of one disappointing album before the band called it quits.
- The Kentucky Headhunters lost brothers Ricky Lee Phelps (lead vocals) and Doug Phelps (bass guitar) before their third album, Rave On!! They were replaced by lead singer Mark Orr and bassist Anthony Kenney. Orr left after only one album, and Doug came back, taking over his brother's former role as lead singer. After Kenney left, Doug also became bassist again.
- The KLF sampled from some Wanda Dee songs on their stadium house singles and their album The White Room—and owing to some weird copyright clause, this left Dee holding partial rights to the songs that sampled her. These songs wound up being much more popular than her original music. So when Jim Cauty and Bill Drummond (the only members of the KLF) retired from making music, she took advantage of their absence by using those tracks at her live shows and touring as "Wanda Dee featuring The KLF". No one was particularly amused.
- After Melanie Thornton left La Bouche, the rest of the group produced the single "All I Want" with Natacha Wright, which was a flop. Following Thornton's death in a plane crash, they posthumously used vocals from her unfinished solo material to produce "In Your Life".
- Little Texas also went through this a lot. Initially, they traded lead vocal duties between Brady Seals and Tim Rushlow (with backing vocals from two other members), but Tim became the lone lead vocalist after Brady left in 1995, with Jeff Huskins taking over Brady's role as keyboardist. The band broke up in the late 1990s and Tim went solo. After Little Texas re-established in 2004 without Brady or Tim, they chose Steven Troy as their new lead vocalist. He left after about a year, and lead vocal duties were given to guitarist Porter Howell (who, interestingly, had not even been a backing vocalist before then).
- Until 1998, Lonestar had two lead singers: Richie McDonald and bassist John Rich. John was fired from the band in 1998, eventually founding Big & Rich with Big Kenny. McDonald left in 2007 over Creative Differences, and was replaced by Cody Collins, who sounds nothing like McDonald. The band cut one middling album ("Party Heard Around The World") with Collins as lead, then he left in 2011. McDonald rejoined after his solo career went nowhere, but by this point the band's star had deeply faded.
- When Lord Worm was fired from Cryptopsy, they continued with new vocalist Matt McGachy. Their one album so far since then, The Unspoken King, has received... somewhat negative reviews.
- Lord Worm had actually left Cryptopsy once before, in 1997. They went through two lead singers, Mike DiSalvo and Martin Lacroix, before he returned in 2003.
- The Lovin' Spoonful released one more album after John Sebastian left (with drummer Joe Butler taking over lead vocals), then called it quits.
- After Meat Loaf attained popular success of Bat Out Of Hell, songwriter-producer Jim Steinman wrote a followup album for the singer. When he proved unable to perform due to illness, Steinman brought Meat Loaf's band into the studio and sang the songs himself, releasing the album, Bad For Good, under his own name. While critics generally deemed it mediocre and found Steinman's voice a poor substitute for Meat Loaf's, it achieved a Top 40 hit with "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through". Meat Loaf would eventually record most of the songs on the album himself for various projects.
- A while after The Misfits front man Glenn Danzig (a multi-instrumentalist responsible for writing 90% of the original band's music) left the band for Samhain and later his own solo work, some of the remaining members, led by Jerry Only, went on to revive the band in the 90s. New member Micheal Graves (who actually admitted to never having heard a Misfits song before he joined the group) performed vocals on two reasonably well received (though far more accessible and pop-punk influenced) albums, while Only himself took over for the remainder of their (far less popular) work. Many fans of the classic Misfits refuse to allow that any band lacking Glenn Danzig truly qualifies as "The Misfits". Averted in Australia, where "Far Side of Crazy" (which Graves sang lead on) outsold "Mexican Radio", and the new lineup is seen much more favorably.
- By 1970, after The Monkees' TV series had been canceled and both Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork (the only members of the band who were actual musicians) had left, the band's future looked bleak. However, Saturday morning reruns of the show did well enough that the two remaining members, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones, made one more album—Changes, a return to the bubblegum pop of the group's earliest hits, only not as good. Despite songs from Changes being inserted into the existing reruns, the LP didn't even make the Billboard Top 200 album chart on its initial release, and The Monkees were finished until their successful 20th anniversary reunion in 1986. When Changes (along with the rest of The Monkees' catalogue) was subsequently reissued, it finally made the charts, peaking at #152.
- While 'Fast Eddie' Clarke wasn't strictly The Face of Motörhead, his replacement with former Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson met with this reaction in 1983. Although the resulting album, Another Perfect Day, was strong, Robertson indulged in behavior that alienated Motorhead fans, including performing in tight disco shorts and insisting on playing long blues jams while refusing to play Clarke's songs.
- After Ian Hunter left Mott the Hoople, the band shortened its name to Mott and continued with two more albums, Drive On (which was at least a decent seller, peaking at #35) and Shouting and Pointing (which didn't chart at all).
- After Noel Gallagher left Oasis, Liam and the other three guys renamed themselves Beady Eye. Their debut album sold decently, but nowhere near as well as an Oasis album would have.
- When they were dumped by their record label, October Project's Mary Fahl then struck out on a solo career, taking her signature contralto with her. October Project, meanwhile, attempted several times to carry on without her, first as November Project, then as October Project again. While Mary has been able to get a CD out in stores since then, as well as appear on a couple of movie soundtracks, the larger part of the group has had only a few limited-run releases.
- Indie pop girl group The Pipettes has seen many lineup changes: the band's most successful lineup of Rebecca "RiotBecki" Stephens, Rose Elinor Dougall and Gwenno Saunders is the second lineup. Saunders replaced Julia Laird-Clowes, who left to become the singer and keyboardist for the indie band The Indelicates. After the release of their popular 2006 debut We Are the Pipettes, Stephens and Dougall left the band, with Dougall going onto a critically acclaimed solo career. Saunders and Monster Bobby (the group's co-creator and leader of their backing band) continued the group, recruiting replacements that also departed soon afterwards. The group's second album, Earth vs. Pipettes only features Saunders and her sister Ani in the lineup, and it tanked in both sales and critical reception.
- The Pogues continued for a few years after firing lead singer and songwriter Shane MacGowan, who was temporarily replaced by Joe Strummer of The Clash before the band settled on co-founder Spider Stacy as their new lead singer. Their first post-MacGowan album, 1993's Waiting for Herb produced one of their biggest hits, "Tuesday Morning", but the album itself was savaged by critics and suffered poor sales. The band called it quits after their next album 1996's Pogue Mahone fared worse critically and sales-wise, and did not reunite until the members patched things up with MacGowan in 2001.
- Sixteen years after the death of Freddie Mercury, Queen performed a reunion tour and recorded an album with Paul Rodgers of Bad Company and Free as vocalist. Sensing that perhaps their fanbase wouldn't accept Rodgers as a replacement for Mercury, the album was listed as being by "Paul Rodgers and Queen" as if to suggest Rodgers was a collaborative artist rather than a band member. Many fans reacted less warmly to this new team than to their solo work. Queen have since done a number of such performances and singles, credited as Queen + [artist].
- Brazilian band Raimundos "lost" their singer to the Evangelical church. The guitarist took over, and their first post-loss single had some impact. But everything after... nearly no one noticed, and no one cares that the band still exists.
- Sector 27 released at least one single after Tom Robinson left.
- The Sneaker Pimps' face in their early stages was singer Kelli Ali. Part of the reason why they dropped her was because she was the face - but she only sang the songs. Despite the warnings of their record label and the fans, Kelli was ignored and eventually kicked out of the band. Chris Corner, who did write the songs, became the singer (and the face) after that, and they released two more albums (the latter of which didn't chart at all) that failed to reach the success of Becoming X before disbanding completely in 2004.
- Stone Temple Pilots. After Scott Weiland left and the band broke up, the other members formed Army of Anyone with the singer from Filter. Most STP fans don't know Army of Anyone exists, and if they do, they tend to deny it exists.
- The Stranglers recorded ten albums, the last four being international hits. They went for an eleventh (called 10, just to confuse matters), which fell flat. Singer Hugh Cornwell left, considering them a spent force, but the band kept going. The band's 2004 album Norfolk Coast and single "Big Thing Coming" were mildly successful, but far less so than the albums made when Cornwell was in the band.
- After Brian Setzer left The Stray Cats, the other two members, Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker, teamed up with former David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick to form a new group, Phantom, Rocker, and Slick. They released one album, which bombed miserably, and then quickly dissolved.
- Styx lost Dennis de Young, their vocalist and keyboardist/pianist whose singing had made the band. They've hardly done as successfully as de Young himself, who continues with his own band....still singing Styx songs just as well as he did before.
- In 2009, Sublime started touring with new singer/guitarist Rome Ramirez replacing the late Brad Nowell. This didn't stick, as the Nowell family claims that Brad was the sole owner of the band name. The other two original members soon decided they didn't want to alienate Brad's widow, family and friends and changed the name of the project to Sublime with Rome, which was accepted by Brad's family. After the release of Sublime with Rome's first album, drummer Bud Gaugh quit as he also felt the new musical project was disrespectful to Nowell, making Eric Wilson the only original member of Sublime in Sublime with Rome.
- Prior to this there was Long Beach Dub All-Stars, who were also Sublime without Nowell.
- The Supremes managed to last several years after Diana Ross left (and even had a few minor hits), but were tremendously overshadowed by Ross's solo career. Most Supremes best-of albums barely acknowledge the Ross-less years, if at all.
- 2 Unlimited was reformed as a girl group after the original two members, Ray and Anita, parted ways. It didn't last long, as they only produced one album before breaking up themselves.
- Talking Heads broke up because of tension between singer/guitarist David Byrne and the rest of the band. In 1996, the group (under the shortened name The Heads) recorded No Talking, Just Head, an album on which Byrne was replaced by a new guitarist and a variety of guest singers, including Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Michael Hutchence, Andy Partridge and Johnette Napolitano (who sang lead on the accompanying tour). The album was not well received, and that was the end for any version of Talking Heads (except for a one-shot 2002 reunion gig celebrating the band's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame).
- In a Stone Temple Pilots-related example, there was Talk Show, a band the members formed with vocalist Dave Coutts in 1997, while Scott Weiland was struggling with drug addiction and working on his first solo album. As with Army Of Anyone, the one album they released didn't do very well commercially and isn't too well-known even among fans.
- Ten Thousand Maniacs soldiered on after Natalie Merchant left. They gained a new lead singer, Mary Ramsey and their first album with Ramsay produced the biggest hit in the band's career, a cover of Roxy Music's "More Than This". Since then however, their album sales have stagnated and they never retained the overall popularity they had when Merchant was the singer.
- After Thin Lizzy broke up and Phil Lynott died, the band had a few reunion projects before reuniting on a permanent basis in 1996 with former guitarist John Sykes as the lead singer. They've only released a single live album since, so most people don't really care.
- Trick Pony tried to continue after the departure of Heidi Newfield, replacing her with Aubrey Collins. She only lasted eight months before leaving over Creative Differences. After guitarist Keith Burns left to form another group, the remaining member (bassist Ira Dean) tried in vain to re-form the band.
- When Lou Reed left The Velvet Underground in 1970, guitarist Doug Yule (whom Reed had brought in to replace John Cale) kept what was left of the band touring for two years, then recorded the album Squeeze with session musicians. According to the Wikipedia article, Squeeze "could justifiably be regarded as a Doug Yule solo album in all but name". While the album has its defenders, rock critic David Fricke sums up the general consensus when he describes it as "an embarrassment to the VU discography."
- When The Who lost drummer Keith Moon after 1978's Who Are You, the band replaced him with Kenney Jones. Everything went OK for a while, including a decently-received tour, until 11 fans were killed at a concert in Cincinnati a year later. The band then released two studio albums with Jones, Face Dances and It's Hard. While the former had a bonafide hit in "You Better You Bet" and a charter in "Another Tricky Day", the latter was panned by just about everyone (though Rolling Stone infamously awarded it 5/5 stars). Though they've reunited since then (recently without deceased bassist John Entwistle) many times for tours and even a studio album Endless Wire which was warmly received, they've never REALLY been The Who since Keith passed away.
- The all-girl trio Wild Orchid achieved a modest amount of success with three albums and singles like "Talk to Me" in the late 90s and early 00s. In 2001, Stacy Ferguson (the face of the group at the time) met will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, and left Wild Orchid to pursue her goals with the hip-hop group. Wild Orchid continued on as a duo, and their final album, Hypnotic, was only released on the band's website in 2003 and sold a pitiful 5,000 copies. By the end of the year, the group had disbanded.
- Zilch tried to go on as a performing band after the death of lead guitarist hide, but eventually finally ended their less-than-successful attempt at this with the death of bassist Paul Raven.
- AC/DC. Their orignal singer, Dave Evans, was fired before the band became famous. Their second singer Bon Scott joined and the band got signed and released albums throught the 70's. After Scott's death in 1980, the band came back with new singer Brian Johnson and Back In Black, their most successful album, and, indeed, the most successful album by any actual band, surpassed in sales only by Michael Jackson's Thriller. Several of the band's most iconic songs date from this period, which continued to tour and release material to the present day, and for an entire generation of fans Johnson was the face of the band, as much as Scott ever was (remembering, of course, that this the band includes Angus Young, he of the eternal school uniform).
- Alice in Chains reunited and began touring in 2005, three years after lead singer Layne Staley died and eventually selected William Duvall as his replacement. The band released an album, Black Gives Way to Blue which received good critical and fan reception, with most of the fandom that had been against Duvall changing their tune.
- Alter Bridge is Creed without Scott Stapp. While not as successful as its predecessor, Alter Bridge is significantly better-received, making Creed used by some as a textbook example of how a bad vocalist can drag down the work of good instrumentalists. Myles Kennedy, Alter Bridge's frontman, is now additionally lead vocalist for Slash's solo band, producing an interesting cross-pollination of minus-the-face groups.
- Thrash-metal band Annihilator. Guitarist Jeff Waters has always been the "real" face of the band, the band has gone through FIVE vocalists so far, first was Randy Rampage (though Jeff himself did sing on some of the demos from the debut album), who despite being well-loved among fans left after one album, then Coburn Pharr replcaed him and he was considered a competent replacement, he too left and was replaced by Aaron Randall, who most people thought sounded too commercial to fit in with Annihilator. Annihilator split after that, though Jeff Waters released several albums under the Annihilator name despite not featuring any members other then himself (he sang all the songs and performed all the instruments himself) Then the band reunited with Randy Rampage for one album before he quit yet again, he was replaced with Liege Lord singer/guitarist Joe Comeau, who was by a large majority considered to be Annihilator's best vocalist, then he left and was replaced with the band's now current singer Dave Padden, who most fans consider to be Annihilator's weakest vocalist by far as they felt his was too "modern" sounding (though most agree that Dave's singing has improved since he first joined the band).
- Anthrax went through four different lead singers: first there was Neil Turbin (1982-1984), then there was the very successful Joey Belladonna era (1985-1992). After that, John Bush (1992-2004) took over, and after a reunion tour with Belladonna in 2005, Dan Nelson became the current frontman. Nelson later left and Joey Belladonna reunited with Anthrax, just in time for the Big Four tour and a new album.
- The Band. In 1965, Bob Dylan recruited an unknown group called Levon and the Hawks as his backing band for his first electric tour. After his motorcycle accident the following year put him out of business for a time, the group changed its name to The Band and went into business for itself, with considerable success. They played this straight with some later reunions minus Robertson (depending on whether you view him or Levon Helm as The Face). In the 80s the four other members did some tours of tiny clubs and theatres, but halted after Richard Manuel committed suicide. In the early 90s the three remaining members reunited again with some success, but the death of Rick Danko (and later Helm) finally put a stop to The Band once and for all.
- Tyondai Braxton, the singer and guitarist for math rock group Battles, left the band after the tour for their successful 2007 debut album Mirrored. The band pressed on without replacing him and their sophomore effort, 2011's Gloss Drop was extremely well received. Instead of replacing him directly, the songs on Gloss Drop are either instrumental or feature guest vocalists.
- Bauhaus, a notable British goth band from the late 70s, disbanded in 1983. Singer Peter Murphy went on to a reasonably successful solo career while the three remaining musicians reformed as Love & Rockets. L&R achieved greater commercial success than Bauhaus over the course of several albums and tours until 1998. In 1998, Peter Murphy and Love & Rockets reformed Bauhaus. In 2008, Bauhaus recorded a new album, but imploded after recording it. The band is now back to being splintered between Love & Rockets and Peter Murphy.
- The Beach Boys carried on after Brian Wilson slid into mental illness and drug addiction in the late '60s, and continued to release charting singles and sell out concerts throughout the following decade, although they never reached the commercial or artistic heights of their mid-'60s heyday.
- It even happened to The Beatles: Pete Best may be a relative unknown in this day and age, but when the band replaced him with Ringo Starr, it led to a fan uprising in Liverpool. Of course, you know the rest of the story already...
- After Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath due to his increasingly uncontrollable behavior, he was replaced by Ronnie James Dio. Dio's tenure only lasted three years and two albums, but was accepted by fans as an adequate replacement for Osbourne during that time, sang on the group's only commercially significant live album, and toured with a reunited Sabbath under the name Heaven and Hell. While Osbourne remains the most popular and well known frontman, Sabbath saw enough success with Dio to form a bit of a Broken Base.
- Buffy Lawson, lead singer of the duo Bomshel, left in 2007 over Creative Differences between her and Kristy Osmonson. She has since been replaced by Kelley Shepard. Although the first two singles with Shepard both tanked, they finally managed to get two Top 40 hits and a full album with Kelley.
- Death metal pack leaders Cannibal Corpse ended up firing their original frontman, Chris Barnes, over attitude issues. What they didn't account for was that Chris Barnes was the most beloved death metal frontman outside of Chuck Schuldiner. Fortunately the guy they ended up getting, George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, was not only a vastly superior vocalist, he pretty much converted any skeptics with his first vocal section on his first album with the band.
- When Cazuza, singer and main songwriter of Brazilian band Barăo Vermelho, left, his usual partner, guitarist Roberto Frejat, took over singing. The band continues its success to date.
- Chicago averted this twice, going on both after Terry Kath's accidental death in 1978 and Peter Cetera's departure in '85. Cetera, however, is the only ex-member who most identify as the band's 'face.'
- The Russian band "Chorny Obelisk" (Black Obelisk) broke up after the untimely demise of their founder, lyricist, bass guitarist and main vocalist Anatoliy Krupnov in 1997. In 1999, three former members of the band started playing together again, and, after hearing people refer to them as "Black Obelisk", decided to revive the band. The first album they released (with guitarist Dmitriy Borisenkov providing lyrics and main vocals) , was dedicated to Krupnov's memory. While Borisenkov has become the new face of the band, and the band itself has regained a lot of its former popularity, they still cite Krupnov as their biggest influence, and hold annual concerts in his memory.
- The Commodores had one final big hit, "Nightshift", several years after Lionel Richie left.
- Da Yoopers have continued nearly 20 years beyond the departure of longtime vocalist/guitarist Joe Potila. Since they're a No Hit Wonder, it's not as if their success has waned much.
- Deep Purple went through a ridiculous number of lineup changes - in fact, the changes were so drastic that lineups are often referred to by number instead of by name. The only member to be involved in every incarnation is drummer Ian Paice, and nobody ever remembers the drummer - and while the second lineup remains the most popular, the others have done fairly well for themselves as well.
- The Dixie Chicks were complete unknowns until after Natalie Maines took over lead vocal duties from Laura Lynch. This trope then got averted again; see "Vacations" below.
- It happened very gradually, but The Dropkick Murphys are now better known with replacement vocalist Al Barr than they were with original frontman Mike McColgan. McColgan, who left The Dropkick Murphys after their first album to become a firefighter, later started Street Dogs, who have been successful in their own right, but aren't as well-known as his first band. Al Barr actually made a guest appearance on the first Street Dogs album Savin Hill, trading verses with Mike McColgan on "Stand Up".
- Duran Duran became considerably more successful after their original vocalist Stephen "Tintin" Duffy was (ultimately) replaced by Simon Le Bon.
- The English rock band Faces. The group (originally known as The Small Faces) lost their original lead singer, Steve Marriott, when he left to form Humble Pie. The group renamed itself and then picked up two new members - Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart. Their subsequent output included four successful studio albums and a series of major hits like "Stay With Me" and "Ooh La La". After the release of their fourth album, though, Wood's work (and popularity) with The Rolling Stones caused the band to disintegrate.
- In 1970, Fleetwood Mac lost its frontmen, guitarist/singers Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, to Creator Breakdown - Green quit due to stress and poor health, while Spencer stepped out to "buy a magazine", disappeared, and joined a cult. The group went through several frontmen in the next several years before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined, leading the band to the height of their popularity. The trope eventually caught up with them, though. Buckingham quit in 1987. The group's next release, Behind the Mask, flopped, after which Nicks left the group as well. The band assembled a new line-up which released one album, Time (which flopped even worse than Behind the Mask), and then dissolved until 1997 when Buckingham and Nicks rejoined.
- Genesis...for a while. When Peter Gabriel left, the band's unlikely replacement was Phil Collins, the group's drummer. It turned out that not only did Collins have a singing voice similar to Gabriel's, his sensibilities were far more mainstream. Under Collins' leadership, Genesis went from cult heroes to one of the biggest-selling bands of The Eighties. While this was happening, Collins maintained an equally, eventually more successful solo career...so successful that he eventually left as well. This time the replacement, a new member named Ray Wilson (former singer with UK One Hit Wonders Stiltskin), only lasted one album.
- The original musicians of Guns N' Roses (i.e., the entire band except for Axl Rose... and Izzy Stradlin) eventually regrouped under the name Velvet Revolver (with the vocalist of Stone Temple Pilots and another guitarist, old-time friend of Slash and who played with Duff in the band Loaded), and while they didn't reach the heights of the earlier band in their heyday, they released several well-regarded albums and hits.
- Iron Maiden was a decent metal band before Bruce Dickinson, and released two albums during his seven-year absence from the band. But they are definitely a more successful entity with Dickinson up front.
- Journey. Steve Perry had to step away from the band when he developed a degenerative bone disease and couldn't join a planned reunion tour, and they went through several lead singers to try and replace him. They eventually settled on Arnel Pineda, who did much for Journey financially. With Pineda at the helm, Journey had one of the most successful tours of 2008, and the first album with him as lead vocalist, Revelation, was certified platinum. Also, it seems that he has brought appeal to a generation two decades younger than Journey's initial fanbase. It probably helps that Pineda's voice is practically indistinguishable from Perry's.
- After Ian Curtis' suicide, the remaining members of Joy Division changed the group name to New Order and added the drummer's girlfriend on keyboards, and became more successful than ever.
- When Kamelot's founding vocalist Mark Vanderbilt quit in 1998, they hired the almost completely unknown (for anywhere that isn't Norway) opera style vocalist Roy Khan, but instead of being minus the face, this actually marked the origins of their beard growth in the early 2000s.
- Huey Lewis and the News got their start this way. Initially, they went by the name Clover, and their first recording was as the backing band on Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True. They changed their name after parting ways with Mr Costello, and went on to be one of the big hitmakers of the 80s.
- Malice Mizer. The loss of their first vocalist, Tetsu, not only didn't end the band, but his replacement by Gackt drastically increased the band's popularity. The loss of Gackt on the other hand...
- British neo-progressive rock band Marillion enjoyed success during the 1980s (including mainstream hit "Kayleigh") with original frontman Fish (Derek William Dick). When Fish left in 1988, he was replaced by Steve Hogarth. Though they've never enjoyed the same mainstream prominence as they did in the mid-80s, and lost their major record deal in the 1990s, they retain an extremely dedicated core following, many of whom place as much- if not more- importance on the Hogarth era, and even managed to hit the UK top 10 again in 2004.
- The Miracles are an interesting case. Smokey Robinson decided to leave in 1969, putting the group in limbo. The next year, without any new recordings to release, Motown's UK branch decided to take a 1967 album track called "Tears of a Clown" and issue it as a single. It became their all-time biggest hit, prompting Robinson to rejoin The Miracles for a couple more years before a final farewell album and tour. After that, they regrouped (again without Robinson) and managed to score some more hits, including a #1 ("Love Machine" in 1976).
- The Moody Blues were originally a well-respected but but only moderately successful white R&B band. After lead singer Denny Laine left (along with bassist Clint Warwick), the band brought in Justin Hayward and John Lodge, switched its focus to symphonic rock, and became massively popular.
- Mother Love Bone became popular after their singer's death. After Andrew Wood's heroin overdose, they found their unlikely replacement in a surfer from San Diego named Eddie Vedder and changed their sound from a glam punk-ish style of grunge to more of a more classic hard rock sound. They went on to become Pearl Jam, one of the most successful bands of the 90s.
- The New Cars was a touring group in the mid-2000s consisting of the original guitarist and keyboardist of the Cars, fronted by Todd Rundgren, accompanied by the bassist from Rundgren's solo band and the founding drummer of Journey. A few years later, original singer Ric Ocasek rejoined the band and they released a new album.
- Nightwish managed to stay in business after the female lead Tarja Turunen got fired. Their first album with their new singer Annette Olzon was their most successful to date. Annette later left the band, and she was replaced by Floor Jansen, though no new album has been released as of late.
- After the Gangsta Rap pioneering group N.W.A. released their influential debut album they lost Ice Cube, the group's third rapper and (most importantly) another member's ghostwriter. Despite this, they released a successful EP and a great LP after his departure even though they were one member short. Ice Cube's departure actually worked in everyone's favour because Ice Cube met huge success as a solo artist, N.W.A. had something else to be angry about and producer Dr. Dre was forced to become a rapper which is probably the reason that the Dr. was able to have a highly successful and influential solo career.
- In 1985, Christian Rock band Petra lost its lead singer Greg X. Volz and recruited John Schlitt (formerly of non-Christian band Head East) to take his place. The two sounded nothing alike: Volz has been compared to Kansas frontman Steve Walsh, while Schlitt sounds like... well, pretty much every Hair Metal vocalist ever. Perhaps noticing this, the band (under the guidance of new producers) shifted to a heavier sound that fit Schlitt's vocal range quite well, and released some of their most well-known songs during this period. Ironically, their new producers were... John Elefante of Kansas fame and his brother!
- Pink Floyd averted this trope twice. Roger Waters took over from Syd Barrett, and David Gilmour took over from Waters, but the band's records have just kept on selling. Waters attempted to invoke this trope. When he left the band, he infamously declared Pink Floyd disbanded, and then tried to sue them when they quite rightly said "No, we're not finished yet". He failed.
- Rage Against the Machine became Audioslave when Zack de la Rocha quit and was replaced by Chris Cornell. And then Chris wanted to go solo again so was replaced by... Zack. Both incarnations of the band have done quite well.
- The band Rainbow, which Ronnie James Dio was a founding member of, attained its greatest commercial success after he quit the group and it underwent numerous other personnel changes.
- After Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist, Hillel Slovak, died, the band went through a lot of effort to replace him. The eventual replacement, John Frusciante, helped turn the band into a mainstream success and is currently regarded as one of the 20 best guitarists of all time. Whether or not RHCP will continue this trend with new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, remains to be seen.
- Folk-classical fusion band Renaissance. This ancestry is often ignored because, after releasing two albums and touring, the band stalled and then underwent a complete change of lineup. The new band started afresh, abandoned the old songs and folk influences, and became a straight classical fusion band, often using orchestral backing. And suffice to say, while original lead vocalist Jane Relf had a fine voice, her replacement, Annie Haslam, was even better, and the new group went from strength to strength.
- Restless Heart. Lead singer Verlon Thompson left before the first single and was instantly replaced by Larry Stewart. It would later catch up to them when Stewart left in 1991, and the next album featured drummer John Dittrich, keyboardist Dave Innis and bassist Paul Gregg alternating as lead singers; Innis left after that, leaving Dittrich, Gregg, and guitarist Greg Jennings to carry one album on their own with several studio musicians. Finally, the band broke up in 1993. Everyone but Innis reunited in 1998 to cut two tracks for a Greatest Hits album, then broke up again. Finally, in 2002, everyone reunited for good.
- Sepultura was and still is an icon for the South American extreme metal scene. The band began as essentially just the Cavalera brothers, Max and Igor, with some other musicians. Even though presently both brothers have left the band (in 1996 and 2006 respectively), Sepultura is still touring and making music and are led by the band's lone remaining original member, bassist Paulo Junior. The Cavalera brothers later reunited to form the Sepultura-esque Cavalera Conspiracy, essentially The Face(s) Minus The Band.
- The Shadows were Cliff Richard's backing band, but also wrote and performed instrumental numbers without him, and were extremely successful. They carried on doing this after he no longer required their services, and eventually followed Richard into the British record books: Cliff has scored a total of 16 UK No.1 singles, the 2nd highest total after Elvis Presley, while The Shadows, had 12 UK No.1 singles, the sixth highest total.
- After the release of Elysion, Sound Horizon's lead vocalist Aramary left the band for unspecified personal reasons. However, while this resulted in a significant change in musical style (longer songs; more Song Style Shifts; the use of more and varied vocalists; Revo making his presence more apparent in the songs and on stage; etc.), the band actually became more successful than in their "first era".
- British three piece girl group Sugababes have had members replaced THREE times - in fact none of the original members are even left in the group now. But they've continued on with success - their most successful lineup was their second with Heidi Range, Keisha Buchanan and Mutya Buena. Heidi replaced Siobhan Donaghy. In 2005, Mutya left the group and was replaced with Amelle Berrabah. In 2009, the only original founding member of the band, Keisha, was kicked out by the record label and replaced with Jade Ewen. This is the fourth lineup of the Sugababes, and their most recent album Sweet 7 is their second poorest selling. But the second and third lineups were hugely successful. And it gets even more complicated now that the original Sugababes reformed as Mutya Keisha Siobhan...
- Supertramp was formed in 1969 by keyboardist/vocalist Rick Davies (the bluesy, lower-pitched singer) and guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist (and at the time, bassist) Roger Hodgson (high tenor vocals), with a revolving-door lineup. The "classic" lineup (Hodgson, Davies, woodwind player John Halliwell, Scottish bassist Dougie Thomson and American drummer Bob Siebenberg) formed in 1973. Hodgson and Davies rotated or shared roles as lead singers, and (for the most part) wrote Supertramp's material individually, though in Lennon/McCartney style credited the songs as Hodgson/Davies; Hodgson wrote and sang the majority of the band's hits. By 1983, Hodgson left, and Davies became the band's sole leader and main writer since, to lesser success.
- Dave Bickler was the lead singer on Survivor's biggest hit, "Eye of the Tiger", but that was the only top ten hit for the band during Bickler's tenure. They had four top ten singles with Bickler's replacement, Jimi Jamison, none of which are nearly as famous as "Eye of the Tiger."
- After parting ways with lead singer David Ruffin in 1968, The Temptations kept on racking up hits well into the 70s while Ruffin's solo career floundered. That said, The Temptations were established R&B stars before he joined the group, and remained so afterwards.
- 10 Years didn't start out with Jesse Kasek. They started out with a different singer, Mike Underdown, for their first album, Into The Half Moon. Jesse came on the demo album Killing All That Holds You. When the band released their first album on a label with Jesse, most people who became fans on that album aren't aware that he existed. Not to mention that the band has a different sound compared to the hard punk metal sound they were going for.
- Fans were skeptical after Theater Of Tragedy decided to continue on after Liv Kristine left, but replacement vocalist Nell Sigland is considered by most people to be a worthy successor.
- The Irish group Them is best remembered for Van Morrison's 1964-66 stint as lead singer. However, after Morrison left for a successful solo career, various versions of Them continued recording and touring until 1971, with a reunion in 1979. While Them never regained their Morrison-era level of popularity, fans hold their work without him in high regard.
- Tristania lost both their lead and death vocalist Morten Veland and their backing female operatic vocalist Vibeke Stene and they still survived, even if many fans consider their original two albums better.
- Van Halen achieved its greatest commercial success after David Lee Roth quit the band and was replaced by Sammy Hagar, though the change has always caused great division among fans, with many Roth purists disdainfully referring to the later group as "Van Hagar". After Hagar quit, they tried it again with Gary Cherone (which didn't take at all). In their two reunion tours since then, they've toured once with Hagar and once with Roth.
- The Yardbirds wound down in 1968, with falling sales and band members jumping ship to pursue new projects, leaving relative newcomer Jimmy Page as sole member. He recruited a new band of unknowns, and carried on under the Yardbirds name (reusing the old songs when needed). Following questions over ownership of the name, they switched to calling themselves "The New Yardbirds". Then Keith Moon made his historic remark about them going down "like a lead balloon" and... you know the rest. Another new version of the Yardbirds have also been active since The Nineties. As with the original band, Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty have been the group's only consistent members.
- Alabama has pretty much been in semi-retirement since their last major single in 2002. Lead singer Randy Owen recorded one solo album in 2008, but not to distance himself from the band.
- In 1980, the Attractions (Elvis Costello's then-band) released Mad About the Wrong Boy, an LP on which they wrote and sang their own songs. Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve has also done several albums on his own.
- Big & Rich went on hiatus after their third album. Both members (Big Kenny and John Rich) recorded solo albums with each other's blessings, but have since officially started touring again as Big & Rich.
- Crazy Horse recorded several "solo" albums both during and after its tenure with Neil Young.
- Sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks recorded one album as the Court Yard Hounds because lead singer Natalie Maines didn't feel like recording another Dixie Chicks album.
- Dune singer Verena von Strenge took a vacation from the group between 1997 and 1999, during which time they used a vocalist named Vanessa.
- Morbid Angel vocalist/bassist David Vincent left in 1996 and returned in 2004. The band recorded three albums with replacement Steve Tucker which had mixed-to-positive reviews. After 7 years, finally an album was recorded with Vincent. It was not received well at all.
- Pantera's Dimebag, Rex Brown and Vinnie Paul collaborated with country singer David Allan Coe on an album called Rebel Meets Rebel. Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo was supposed to appear on the duet song "Rebel Meets Rebel", but the secondary vocalist was switched to Dimebag.
- Graham Parker's band, The Rumour, released three albums without Parker.
- Secret Chiefs 3 gradually turned from this variety of band minus the face project to I Am the Band: Their first two albums were Mr. Bungle being led by guitarist Trey Spruance rather than Mike Patton, but once Mr. Bungle broke up, they were largely Spruance and a rotating cast of collaborators (albeit with former Mr. Bungle members sometimes among them).
- Difficult as it is to imagine the Strawbs without Dave Cousins fronting them, he did take a break at the end of the '70s. Roy Hill took over as frontman, deploying his unique variety of mind screwiness in the role, until Dave felt ready to return.
- Keyboardist Rick Wakeman took a vacation from Yes for the second time in 1979, and lead singer Jon Anderson followed suit. Their replacements were the new wave pop duo The Buggles: Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn. The resulting album, 1980's Drama, was met with mixed reviews.
- On April Fools' Day 2008, Brave Saint Saturn announced that lead singer and guitarist Reese Roper was leaving the band, and that bassist Keith Hoerig would take his place. It was, of course, a joke—made funnier by the fact that Reese had started the band in the first place so he could record some songs that wouldn't fit the style of that other band he was in.
- Project 86's music video for "The Spy Hunter" ends with the rest of the band knocking singer Andrew Schwab unconscious, tying him up, and leaving him to get shot by a cannon. This is continued in the video for "My Will Be a Dead Man", where Schwab tracks down the rest of the band and finds that they've replaced him (with the lead singer from He Is Legend, no less).
- Parodied in the Rammstein Music Video for "Haifisch", which has the other band members discussing a replacement to the lead singer Till Lindemann....at the poor guy's (fictional) funeral. Metallica's James Hetfield seemed a popular choice.