Top 10 Worst Personnel Changes In Rock History!

We've all been there: A beloved band suddenly makes a line-up change - someone quits, gets fired, or a combination of both - and the band itself is never the same again.  Being devoted fans, we stick it out, hoping for the best, but the band is never the same and every time we see or hear them from that point on, it's almost too painful to bear.  This list is the most comprehensive one I can muster, having winced myself into a stuttering, shivering stupor.  If I missed any big ones, notify my next of kin, please.



Cheap Trick hires Jon Brant as Tom Petersson's permanent replacement.


Quick, name a Cheap Trick song with a notable bass line.  Besides "Gonna Raise Hell".

You can't do it, can ya?  Sure, Tom Petersson invented the 12-string bass and was the perfect visual complement to Robin Zander, but as a player, he's not exactly someone who pops out at you.  In fact, I'll go on-record as saying that this teenage Cheap Trick fanatic was ecstatic when the band replaced Petersson with Pete Comita, who, though new to the 12-string bass, played it like a man possessed.

When my buddies and I raced to the store to get our hands on the band's new album, One On One, there was some other guy's face that we hadn't been told about where Comita's should have been.  I mean, when Comita joined, new pics of the band were in every teen magazine from here to Japan, but there hadn't been a whisper about Brant replacing Comita.

Once I saw Cheap Trick performing with Brant, I knew why:  The guy is a ghost.

I mean, if their goal was to reduce the role of bass player to the most rudimentary, unimaginative member of the band by far, Rick Nielsen and the boys succeeded.  Of course, just about every other decision the band made in the '80s served only to damage their reputation as "the band that made that riveting first album that nobody heard, but changed the lives of all who did".  Thankfully, Nielsen finally saw "the writing on the wall" and lured Petersson back into the band under the guise of "writing songs together" back in '86 and he's been with the band ever since.



Iron Maiden cans Paul DiAnno in favor of Bruce Dickinson

Okay, I knew this one would spark some "are you fucking kidding me"'s from the peanut gallery, but hear me out.  The day the band hired Bruce Dickinson, they stopped being Iron Maiden rock band and became Iron Maiden: The Musical.  Go back and listen to those first two Maiden albums (with Di'Anno) and tell me that isn't the sound of a hard-edged, pummeling five-piece juggernaut capable of conquering the world one sleepy burg at a time.

In that sense, a song like "Hallowed Be Thy Name" is the work of a completely different band, with a singer who was now singing over all the good guitar riffs and whose command of melody was otherwise non-existent.

What had once been a lean, mean rock & roll machine was now an operatic theatre troupe with a Broadway budget.  Of course, said troupe would release Number Of The Beast in 1982 and become the biggest metal act in the world, which, as we all know, is what truly counts in the great scheme of things.



Van Halen replaces David Lee Roth with...Sammy Hagar?!

At the time, I remember thinking that it was obvious Eddie Van Halen wanted to be in a band with a singer he could relate to, not some Liberace wanna-be in assless chaps.  It must really say something about Roth's overboard persona that EVH would see Sammy Hagar as a viable option, having risen to prominence as a solo star with blue collar work ethic inexplicably intact.  I mean, is there a more popular sentiment among the common man than not being able to adhere to the legal speed limit...in a Ferrari?

The Van Halen of 1984 was now the Van Halen of 5150OU812, and, sigh, F.U.C.K.

Sure, the band was as popular as ever, but at what cost?

Cherone, far right, "No, seriously, I'm in the band."
Van Halen fires Sammy Hagar and hires Gary Cherone

Yep, most of you probably saw this one coming.  I mean, what list of the worst personnel changes ever made would be complete without "Cherone joins VH" appearing on said list?  After dealing with Roth's showboating, Hagar was just what the mentally-fatigued EVH had needed to spend a decade on cruise control.  Eventually, Hagar's Jimmy Buffet act and canary yellow parachute pants wore Eddie down and the hard-drinking guitarist sought solace in the arms of another, so to speak.

How that came to be Gary Cherone one will never know, but something tells me Eddie was just looking for the first person he could stand to be in a room with for ten hours a day.  Of course, by then, he was drinking a lot, so it ended up being kinda like you or I picking up a chick in a Rancho Cucamonga karaoke bar at 2am, taking her back to our place, and making an album with her.

To this day, Van Halen III remains the laughingstock of the mighty VH discography, embarrassing enough that Eddie eventually crawled back to Sammy.  Of course, Sammy wanted back more than anything, but he wasn't gonna let Eddie know that.  "Do I get to wear the brightest fucking yellow parachute pants I can find for every photo session?"  Yes, sighed Eddie, head hitting the recording console in disgust.  Suddenly, the sight of Diamond Dave in a pair of assless chaps didn't seem so bad anymore and the rest, as they say, is history.  Oh but wait, there's more!

Sigh...
Van Halen fires Michael Anthony and replaces him with...Eddie's teenage son, Wolfie?!

To this day, I have yet to hear ANYONE say a bad thing about Michael Anthony.  Sure, his bass playing skills may not have been up to Eddie's standards, but his backing vocals have always been the band's secret weapon.  Plus, he was the band's "every man"; the guy with the "I know, right?" grin and the bass guitar shaped like a bottle of Jack Daniels.

For much of the recording of 2012's A Different Kind Of Truth, Eddie was reportedly very frustrated at being unable to capture that old "brown sound" of early VH.  He kept asking himself what was missing, going so far as to re-record songs like "Running With The Devil" and "Dance The Night Away" in hopes of finding out how they tick when all he really had to do was, you know, call Michael freakin' Anthony.



Foreigner replaces Lou Gramm with former Montrose/King Kobra singer Johnny Edwards

Knowing then what most of us realize as fact now, Mick Jones is not a good judge of replacements for Lou Gramm.  In both cases, he has chosen guys so generic that, with their every utterance, all they do is confirm how fortunate Mick Jones had been to happen upon Lou Gramm in the first place.

Without Gramm, point blank, there'd have been no Foreigner.

No one album proves this point more than 1991's Unusual Heat, where Johnny and the remaining members of Foreigner seem to be trying their darndest to sound like Richard Marx.  Mick Jones heard the same album we did and immediately reunited with Gramm, but, by then, the damage to the brand had been done.  Key members Rick Wills and Dennis Elliot would then split, thereby putting a fork in the band's further commercial hopes.



ABC hires two non-musicians to replace founding members David Palmer and Stephen Singleton

For this fully-formed British pop act, the overwhelming worldwide commercial success of their debut, The Lexicon Of Love, must have been a helluva thing to top, which quickly led to Palmer's exit.  Singleton would follow after the commercial disappointment of the harder rocking Beauty Stab and Martin Fry would respond in kind by hiring two non-musical members based solely on their visual appearance, one of which was a, ahem, "little person" by the name of David Yarritu whose sole contribution to How To Be A ... Zillionaire was "spoken word".  I seem to recall him also being featured prominently in one or two videos from that album, but any proof of them seems to have been successfully scrubbed from YouTube.

Of course, Martin Fry's whole point in hiring two non-musicians was to prove just how visual music had become by 1985.  And, yes, Zillionaire was loaded with top-shelf pop fodder ("Be Near Me" anyone?) that led to ABC's return to chart prominence, but...what was the question again?

Thankfully, Fry would get tired of fighting for his share of the spotlight and kick both non-performing members to the curb in time to release Alphabet City and top charts around the world with their biggest hit, "When Smokey Sings" in '87.



Tom Petty fires Stan Lynch and hires Steve Ferrone in his place

Let's face it, by the time of Pack Up The Plantation, the live album that saw Petty & co. scoot dangerously close to cheeseball territory with their cover of Otis Day And The Nights' "Shout!", even Tom Petty was sick of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.  Don't believe me, just take a gander at those faces on the cover of 1986's aptly-titled Let Me Up (I've Had Enough).  Those are not the faces of happy campers.  

Petty, of course, decided to put the band on-hold to make Full Moon Fever with Jeff Lynne, which the label initially rejected (!) but would turn into the career-defining album of his career.  Instead of getting back together with his band and trying to recapture the magic of Torpedoes, Petty sought to recapture the magic of Full Moon Fever, of which Tench, Epstein and Lynch had not been part.  The resulting album, Into The Great Wide Open, was the sound of a round band being jammed into a square hole and saw Lynch's role in reduced to that of "Jeff Lynne's drum machine", which, of course, he hated being and only served to make him that much more of a thorn in Petty's side.

With Petty flailing to maintain the success (and lifestyle) to which he'd become accustomed, Lynch's continual wailing that what he was coming up with was not up to snuff would eventually lead Petty to not only consider, but follow through on canning the fucking heart of the band in favor of ... British session drummer Steve Ferrone, who Petty has continually raved about in interviews for his power, but whose personality as a player is non-existent.

Anyone yet unconvinced need only listen to Petty's latest single, "American Dream, Plan B", with yet another metronomic turn from Ferrone.  I hate to think that the poor guy flew all the way in from England to cut that track when simply cutting and pasting four bars from any of the other time's he's played the same exact "snare-kick-snare-kick snare kick" part would have done the trick.  The end result, may be powerful, but it's boring, Tom.  You know what you have to do.




The Clash fire Mick Jones

It's still hard to believe all these years later that Joe Strummer would a) fire Mick Jones from the Clash, and b) tour with a band of complete impostors as "The Clash", and c) record the dreadful Cut The Crap with the same line-up.

Of course, it had been Strummer's strict adherence to certain unwritten rules that had made The Clash the widely-respected post-punk legends that they are, and it was Jones who had taken to certain "rock star" trappings that Strummer found so distasteful that he was left with no other choice but to sack the guy who had talked him into leaving the 101'ers and throwing his lot in with an unproven punk band just nine years prior.

Strummer was smart enough to know that no further good could come from carrying on with a Clash that didn't include Jones, or, for that matter, Topper Headon.  Jones and Strummer eventually patched things up and Strummer was integral to the success of B.A.D.'s No. 10 Upping St. album in '86.




Guns n' Roses hires Matt Sorum to replace Steven Adler

It's a little known fact that some of Hollywood's hottest session guys, including Toto's Steve Lukather, were brought in to play on the band's debut album, Appetite For Destruction, but the one guy who played on every track was drummer Steven Adler, whose uncanny swing and tasteful arrangements quickly set the band apart from the dearth of hairspray-and-lip-gloss metal bands littering the Sunset Strip.  Much like Aerosmith's Joey Kramer, Adler approached the gig like a jazz drummer and the result was an album that Axl's current rag-tag team of hired guns couldn't come close to recreating if their lives depended on it.

Upon his unceremonious departure, the band chose Matt Sorum, who was fresh from killing The Cult, to replace the drug-addled Adler.  The impact of Sorum's playing upon the rest of the band was monumental, but due to the fact that Axl was now writing songs like "November Rain", nobody noticed until Axl was the only original member left.

It's not that Sorum is a bad guy, or a bad drummer, but that he has absolutely no feel at all, which is pivotal in keeping hard rock songs from plodding.  Point blank, this guy couldn't swing his way out of a wet paper bag.

Guns guitarist Izzy Stradlin later said in a Musician magazine interview that Adler's "sense of swing was the push and pull that give the songs their feel. When that was gone, it was just... unbelievable, weird. Nothing worked. I would have preferred to continue with Steve, but we'd had two years off and we couldn't wait any longer."

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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