Feature photo by Heather Kaplan
Stone Temple Pilots have officially announced that their search for a singer to replace the late Chester Bennington has come to an end. The unnamed new singer will make his or her premiere with the band live at The Troubadour in West Hollywood on Tuesday, November 14th.
The announcement inspired us to revisit our top five best and worst replacement singers in music history. Now, mind you, we wanted to keep each choice to one name — otherwise we would have just listed every Dead Kennedys frontman that didn’t go by Jello Biafra — so hopefully that clears up some confusion.
And before you reply, “What? No women?” Here’s something that female singer-songwriters can celebrate everywhere: They’re irreplaceable. Really, we couldn’t think of one female singer that fit either side of the line, which, technically, is a major compliment. We think.
Anyways, debate, suggest, or sing.
Brian Johnson (of AC/DC)
Who’d He Replace? Bon Scott
Years Active: 1980-present
Why Do We Love Him? It takes more than mere skill to fill the shoes of a legend. But when Brian Johnson mustered the courage to join AC/DC after the tragic death of Bon Scott, he not only filled the void, but helped propel the band to previously unprecedented heights of success. What’s more, it took him virtually no time at all to lock into the band’s formula. Johnson’s voice, albeit gruffer than Scott’s, came in pretty close to the real thing, and the runaway success of Back In Black more or less cemented his place in the band.
Best Example: Back In Black might as well be the roadmap for how to successfully transition into life with a new singer
Greatest addition beyond vocal duties: More than 30 years later, there’s still nothing cooler than that Kangol hat, right?
You could do worse: Noddy Holder, singer for English glam rockers Slade, auditioned for Johnson’s gig. Let’s just be thankful that didn’t pan out.
Sammy Hagar (of Van Halen)
Who’d He Replace? David Lee Roth (twice)
Years Active: 1985-96, 2003-05
Why Do We Love Him? In the mid-80s, Hagar was basically regarded as the intellectual that would turn Van Halen into a Serious Rock Band after leader singer Roth sputtered out of control. Because of Hagar, time has told that Van Halen has stood the test of time. We also now have the song “Pleasure Dome”.
Best Example: Fast song: “Right Now”; slow song: “Love Walks In” (a song about aliens, which comes up later!)
America: 2008 Republican campaign chose a song from Van Hagar’s album F.U.C.K. to play over Governor Sarah Palin’s introduction at a rally in Ohio. No statement was issued by Hagar. Three years, later Hagar claimed he was abducted by aliens.
Don’t judge a book by its cover if the cover has Sammy Hagar on it: Hagar’s autobiography held the #1 spot as a New York Times bestseller. Hagar also jammed with National Book Award winner Patti Smith when they were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the same year.
-Sarah H. Grant