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The Great Lead Singer Switch

Over the years several bands have switched up lead singers on us for one reason or another.  It has either worked out really well, or really, really bad.

Tim "Ripper" Owens got the dream gig when he took over for Rob Halford in Judas Priest. Photo by Scott Harrison/Getty Images

We have all seen it.  One of our favorite bands decides to change course and get a new singer.  Sometimes they have no choice but to get a new guy because of unfortunate circumstance and sometimes it’s just because things haven’t worked out.  Some very notable bands have done it time and time again.  Most of the time they end up going back to what worked originally after it’s rejected by fans.

Some lead singer changes are just temporary fixes for a bad situation.  In the late 1990’s when Judas Priest was going through some difficulties between Rob Halford and the rest of the band they decided to part ways.  That is when we all got familiar with “The Ripper”.  Tim “Ripper” Owens has an incredible voice and obviously that was recognized by the dudes in Priest and that’s why they brought him in.  They did two albums with him, but then decided to patch things up with Halford and he’s been back in the band ever since.  That wouldn’t be all for “Ripper” though.  He would go on to sing for heavy metal band Iced Earth for a stint while their original singer, Matt Barlow, joined the army after 9/11.

Judas Priest is a case where the fans still loved them, but never really got into the whole ‘Ripper” era.  It worked out much better for them to go back to Halford.  Another Metal band that switched up singers and never looked back was Iron Maiden.  Bruce Dickinson wasn’t always the lead man in Maiden.  Their first singer was Paul Di’Anno and it was a totally different sound.  The Dickinson change was huge for Maiden because it catapulted them into the stratosphere.  Maiden and Priest aren’t the only metal bands to play musical singers.  Black Sabbath parted ways with Ozzy Osbourne making way for Ronnie James Dio to join up.  Those two incarnations of Sabbath are the most popular of course, but Sabbath has a laundry list of former singers.  Anthrax has also switched singers several times.  The best fit for them was Joey Belladonna, who they are currently back with.

Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

AC/DC made the switch to Brian Johnson after the untimely death of Bon Scott in the late 70’s.  This change was great and transformed AC/DC into one of the biggest bands on the planet.  Their last tour was the highest grossing rock tour of 2010.  When Van Halen decided to ditch David Lee Roth for whatever reason and go with Sammy Hagar it wasn’t a bad change.  However when they decided Sammy was out and went with Gary Cherone is where they lost me.  What an awful choice.  That quickly dissolved after one album.

Motley Crue tried to switch things up in the 90’s when they brought in John Corabi to replace Vince Neil who was feuding with the band at the time.  Corabi lasted one album before the Crue patched thing sup with Neil.

A band that has had a large revolving door of singers since Steve Perry left in the 80’s is Journey.  They have used different touring vocalists and found their latest singer by watching him do karaoke on Youtube.  Pretty impressive way to get a gig.  People still flock to places to see Journey so whatever they are doing is working.

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