Hive Five: Bands’ Second Lives

Photo: Mick Rock

This week marks the release of the first album of new original material in more than a decade from goth-punk stalwarts the Misfits (above).It’s surprising that The Devil’s Rain will be the band’s fifth studio record since reforming in the late ’90s; founding member (and progenitor of their horror-punk look and feel) Glenn Danzig hasn’t played with or written songs for the group since he disbanded it back in 1983. But if even Danzig can be replaced in his own band — granted, only after a protracted legal battle — no one is safe. Hive dug up five other bands that wouldn’t let the untimely departures of their frontmen hamper their rock ‘n’ roll careers.

1. Pink Floyd

Though they are primarily thought of now as David Gilmour and Roger Water’s proggy band of perennial catalog best-sellers, they were originally intended to be Syd Barrett’s psychedelic outfit. (In fact, it was Barrett who christened the group with its now-iconic moniker.) But sadly, just as his band began to get famous, Barrett’s increasingly erratic behavior resulted in his being kicked out of Pink Floyd, making him one of rock history’s most notorious acid casualties — ironically, the band would go on to make acid-soundtrack albums such as The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon that now grace classic rock radio and inspire Waters and Gilmour to reap the benefits by playing their back catalog in solo performances.

2. Dead Kennedys

Like the Misfits, Dead Kennedys were formed in the first wave of late ’70s punk bands by a distinctive frontman (the highly political Jello Biafra); broke up in the ’80s; withstood an ugly legal battle and reformed without their famous singer. Unlike the Misfits, however, the Biafra-less Kennedys haven’t released any new music (save live records, compilations and re-releases), since Biafra was their primary songwriter. We guess he has proven difficult to replace: Dead Kennedys have gone through three singers in the last 10 years.

3. Van Halen

The magic of Van Halen’s early albums was the tension between David Lee Roth’s flamboyant stage presence and Eddie Van Halen’s technical prowess. But that led to offstage tension too. After the release of 1984, Van Halen were arguably the biggest band the world, but still the band wasn’t big enough for both Eddie and Dave (who already had a solo career in the works). So in 1985, Diamond Dave quit the band, and Van Halen replaced him with Sammy Hagar, later replacing him with Gary Cherone. It seems, though, that Van Halen are nostalgic for the good old days: they recorded a new album earlier this year, their first with Roth in 27 years.

4. Journey

Though their songs are inescapable — on Glee, in every karaoke bar in America, on the reunion-tour summer-concert circuit — the hits-era lineup of Journey (marked by the elastic pop vocals of spandex-jumpsuit-wearing, be-mulleted Steve Perry) has been broken up for decades (first in 1987, then again after the release of their 1996 reunion album, Trial By Fire). Though the band has lost more members than it has held on to, it is Perry, who left for hip surgery in lieu of touring the reunion album, who is most missed. But guitarist Neil Schon and his handful of remaining members never stopped believin’ in the band. They’ve continued on with replacement singers, most recently a Filipino Perry sound-alike from a Journey cover band.

5. Alice in Chains

In 2002 the future of Alice in Chains was already in jeopardy — the band had been dormant for six years — when frontman Layne Staley’s drug-related death seemed to put the final nail in the coffin of the band. But after playing with Comes With the Fall vocalist William Duvall at a Heart tribute concert in 2006, the reunited band forged ahead with Duvall as their new singer. A new album, Black Gives Way to Blue, was released in 2009, and the band is heading back into the studio for their second post-Staley effort at the end of this year, proving that, though no one can bring their frontman back, their band, at least, has returned from the dead.

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