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Five Bands Who Broke Up But Still Rock

By Candice Wheeler @thediceler

Bands call it quits all the time. Bandmates grow apart, creative directions change and the logistics of the music business make it difficult for bands to stay true to their original foundation. Throughout music history, an uncountable number of bands have toured with their unoriginal band members.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, as I fully believe there’s an importance to an original performance that is often overlooked. Even if the substitute band member does a flawless rendition and is equally talented, it is still essentially a different experience. Then again, if some of the original members want to keep the music alive for the fans without the support of their counterparts, why shouldn’t they?

A live concert experience can be especially electrifying if it’s done with the band’s founding line-up. Even though these things happen and substituting has become a natural occurrence in the rock world, I am personally more likely to purchase a ticket if it’s with the original band. Fans tend to relate to at least one band member in particular, which makes it annoying if they’re missing from the show.

There is, however, a flip side to that thought. The fact that fans are still buying concert tickets to hear their favorite songs live, no matter the line-up, just goes to show the power of live music, and most importantly, the power of rock and roll. As a new generation of music fans begins to flock the scene, the power of originality is becoming less common, and it’s up to the artists themselves to put aside their differences and carry on through the “Rock of Ages.”

Here are five of those bands…

#5 Journey

When Steve Perry‘s first replacement, Steve Augeri, stepped in during the late nighties, fans agreed there was something missing. Especially on tour, Perry’s absence didn’t go unnoticed. Even with his current replacement, Arnel Pineda, many believe Journey is now a cover band. These days, it seems that a band is a brand, not a band. By using the brand name Journey to sell tickets, it’s an obvious marketing tactic that can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional ticket revenue. Even though Pineda rocks on vocals, the name Journey sells a lot more concert tickets at higher prices than it would if the other band members formed a new project with a replacement. Yet, if you love the music of Journey, you will still love to see the current band live, if only to air guitar along to Neal Schon. 


#4 Van Halen

David Lee Roth’s decision to reunite with Van Halen for their most recent tour in 2012 – which was his first tour with the group in 28 years – made the show a must see for fans. Ticket sales and publicity for the tour increased heavily, something that’s not uncommon today. Roth’s presence is undoubtedly important to fans; he has that special something that can’t easily be replaced. Sammy Hagar‘s run with the band was awesome, but I think overall fans seemed happy to see Roth rejoining the band on stage, despite the absence of original bassist Michael Anthony. Replacement bassist Wolfgang Van Halen, the son of guitarist Eddie Van Halen, molded well with the band’s chemistry, but it’s still a bummer Anthony isn’t involved anymore. I guess the reason a lot of these older artists are touring is so they can cater to their new generation of fans – those who have never seen them live in concert before. So the question embarks: When buying concert tickets, is it more about the artist or the music?

#3 Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath planned their 2012 reunion tour — which included their last performances ever — without founding drummer Bill Ward. It was controversial AF, as Ward said he would not participate in the tour until he was given a “signable” contract respectfully noting his original standing in the band. Many fans sided with Ward and the backlash affected ticket sales and public opinion of the band’s decisions. 

There’s no denying the fact that the band’s current drummer Tommy Clufetos is impeccably talented, but saying goodbye to Black Sabbath during this tour made me yearn for Bill Ward. I wish there could be some type of closure with the entire original band. Not just for the fans, but to at least honor the music; how everything started. If there’s one thing I’ve realized going to concerts, is that I’m definitely not alone in this thought process. Black Sabbath concerts have a real, communal feeling because they attract a very solid fan base: a super group of dedicated people who understand each other. It’s not about simply enjoying the same type of music. When it’s been deemed a finale tour, it’s much deeper than that.


Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have been the only two original members that have been actively apart of KISS since the beginning. There are been many different musicians who have stepped in to take the place of original guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss. Lately, they have both been spotted joining Gene Simmons at charity events and on the road promoting his “Vault” experience. I hope its been in preparation for an actual reunion, with the full original band. KISS was one of the funnest concerts I’ve ever been to, despite the absence of Frehley and Criss. In the middle of “Rock and Roll All Nite” I really didn’t read much into it; I was just having fun in the moment and maybe that’s all that matters. 

#1 Fleetwood Mac

This isn’t the first time guitarist Lindsay Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac. In 1987,  he backed out of a ten week tour at the last minute and was replaced with guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. Now, former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Neil Finn of Crowded House are set to replace Buckingham for their Evening with Fleetwood Mac tour starting this fall. Quintessentially the new line-up of Fleetwood Mac. Seems like a case of, dare I say it, the brand not the band. 

I am really hoping this tour doesn’t mean the end of Fleetwood Mac. To me, Lindsay Buckingham is so much of what made their music great, and I really hope they can put aside their differences and come together one last time before it’s too late. Buckingham said on stage last weekend that it was not his choice to leave, and that the band has “lost its perspective.” I hope this tour apart makes them all realize what they have, and if nothing else, they can come together in honor of the music and the fans for one last celebration.