Sometimes it seems like music history has seen as many replacement band members as there are bands, because precious few groups have been able to keep their original lineups intact for any significant length of time. Those that do not only are an anomaly, but can miss out on important collaborations and new musical trajectories that go unrealized without the occasional personnel change.
Yet replacements can be a tricky business, and fan loyalty as we all know can make or break a group. Hypersensitive to lineup changes and usually unforgiving if the new member is not well-received, fans are seldom shy about sharing their opinions. No matter how important the band is, some will always complain about the replacements. However, some replacements turned out to be so important to bands’ artistic strategy that they became permanent fixtures, lasting improvements to the previous lineup. These new faces breathed fresh and compelling creativity into some of heavy music's most important acts.
Here now, ten not-so-common replacements that actually worked out well throughout metal and rock history.
With: Black Flag, Danzig, D.O.A. Circle Jerks, Social Distortion, etc.
Biscuits seems to have collaborated with at least a dozen important punk and metal bands. His contributions to the genre can only be praised. One of the key figures in punk for decades and the man behind the kit for Danzig's 1993 hit "Mother," he’s covered everything from Run D.M.C. to FEAR and everything between.
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With: Death, Testament, Opeth, Strapping Young Lad, etc.
Another drummer whose talents and sensibilities got him invited to a myriad of bands, titles, recording sessions and new tracks. Hoglan’s story is the destiny-laden stuff rock-star dreams are made of. Self-taught and determined, he began his career as a roadie for Slayer and jumped to contributing musically with the band by singing back-up vocals on their album Show No Mercy.
Anyone can argue that Behemoth's drummer Inferno has been a mainstay for many years and doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere soon, but that wasn’t always the case; he's been an integral part of the lineup since replacing Baal Ravenlock. If you know Behemoth’s history, Inferno and the Polish black metal ensemble parted ways for a short time in 1999. That’s when things really fell apart, as lead singer Nergal couldn’t seem to find a suitable replacement. With Inferno rejoining the group, Behemoth signed to a new record label and secured a tour. Behemoth continues to gain traction and popularity, making it appear that Inferno may be the glue that holds this band together.
With: Ozzy Osbourne
While his contribution to Ozzy Osbourne’s music after the death of Randy Rhoads can’t be underestimated, Wylde's contributions as guitar virtuoso also can’t be exaggerated. In every respect, he met the assignment of filling in the gap after Rhoads in the best way possible — by blowing everyone away with his skill and creativity. He continues to impress in Black Label Society, adding piano and vocals to his repertoire.
With: Soulfly, Havok
Former bassist for Havok currently in Soulfly (along with ex-Misfit Marc Rizzo) Leon’s thrashy presence has been a natural addition to shaman Max Cavalera's band. Leon fits perfectly into the group, and his bass playing is superior. Not to mention, as a bassist, his stage presence is probably one of the best outside Mastodon's Troy Sanders and Flea himself. Dancing, swaying, Leon is a man entranced when onstage — a sight to behold and a gregarious soul, always smiling and interacting with fans.
PAUL BOSTAPH; GARY HOLT
When metal lost Jeff Henneman in 2013, it meant the end of Slayer for many fans, especially when drummer Dave Lombardo left (again). However, such a negative outlook is probably the most disrespectful thing any fan could show, especially when the band's founding lineup still lives and performs. The introduction of Gary Holt, formerly of Exodus, could not have been a better choice; he's an extremely versatile and experienced guitarist, and an outstanding replacement for someone who really can’t be replaced.
In addition, Bostaph on drums is a mechanized beast of a player. It's not his first round with Slayer, and bringing him back couldn’t have been better timing. Anyone who’s listened to the band lately knows Slayer has benefited greatly from the changes, despite the circumstances.
FLEA; DAVE NAVARRO
With: Jane's Addiction; Red Hot Chili Peppers
When Flea joined Jane’s Addiction, an entirely new artistic vision was created. Although the band certainly didn’t lose their unique footing in the art-metal alternative scene, they did take on a new flavor that wouldn’t have been possible without Flea. In an opposite move, Dave Navarro's leaving Jane’s to help support RHCP made for an interesting toss-up in the look and sound of the band. Bringing his sex-fueled image and raw guitar riffs, Navarro pumped life into a group that sorely needed it after lead singer Anthony Kiedis's much-publicized heroin battles.
With: Metallica, Voivod, Sepultura, Ozzy
Newsted gets a pretty bad rap from everyone. From his tumultuously underappreciated time in Metallica to the shoes-he-could-never-fill argument after original bassist Cliff Burton’s death in 1987, he just can't win. Many fans (and Metallica members) felt like Newsted was the problem. Perhaps he was, but who wouldn’t be furious when, after playing and writing bass tracks for an entire album, they’re virtually inaudible? …And Justice For All ironically didn’t provide any justice for Newsted; he was clearly the odd man out.
Newsted's troubles have followed him post-Metallica, too, with questionable early departures from bands like Voivod and Sepultura, plus one oddly short OzzFest stint with Ozzy Osbourne. Still, when you listen to songs Newsted is credited with writing, like “Blackened,” you can’t help but wonder if he really is as talentless as so many have claimed. Especially when the record Metallica made after his departure, St. Anger, was their worst album to date.
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When Axenrot joined Opeth in 2005, he became a key asset to the sonic arrangement of the band. An incredible player with impeccable timekeeping abilities and dynamic work on the skins, he helped Opeth flourish in the years since he joined and continues to impress.
MIKE SCACCIA (R.I.P.)
With: Ministry, Revolting Cocks
When the late Scaccia joined Ministry temporarily in 1989 as lead guitarist, no one could have imagined the incredible catalog of music that would develop from the union. Despite the breakups, addictions and recoveries that would plague front man Al Jourgensen and Scaccia — who tragically died onstage in Fort Worth in December 2012 — for years to come, the pairing of these two musicians brought industrial music to an entirely new level. An incredible duo, together they were a key component of the goth-club musical landscape of the Nineties.
While we’re at it, we’d like to take a moment and thank the remaining members of Nirvana for not replacing Kurt Cobain. The same goes for Type O Negative and the Beastie Boys. Now, if only Sublime would follow suit.