The Essence of a band

The question here  is: When the “essence” of a band leaves, is it still THAT band.  Take Lynyrd Skynyrd for example.  They are still touring but when Ronnie Van Zant died back in the 70’s, that, for all intents and purposes, ended the band.  The group that is touring now is only Lynyrd Skynyrd by name.  The Marshall Tucker Band is another good example of this.

Van Halen is a puzzler.  When Roth left in 1985, did Van Halen end?  I would argue no.  Roth AND Eddie Van Halen were both the essence of VH.  I would even argue that Eddie more so than Roth was the true essence of the band with his signature guitar playing.  If it was Eddie that left, then IMHO Van Halen would have ended.  I think that VH with Sammy was just as much Van Halen as with Roth, just different.

Take Mick or Keith from the Stones and you no longer have The Rolling Stones.  Brian Jones, Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman make no difference.  These  days though, after over 40 yrs of rocking,  take Charlie out and I don’t think you have the Rolling Stones anymore.  Maybe 10 years ago you would have but not now.

J. Geils Band without Peter Wolf?  Nope.

10,000 Maniacs without Natalie Merchant? No dice

Fleetwood Mac without Christine McVie?  Sure. 

ACDC without Bon Scott?  Sure, esp when they got a guy who sounds exactly like him!

I do like how Queen did it.  Of course Queen without Freddie  Mercury is not really Queen but they wanted to get out and rock some more so they got Paul Rodgers from Bad Company and they called themselves Paul Rodgers + Queen.  Not just Queen. 

Anyway, how about a 30 year moratorium on bands that keep going without their essence?

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6 Responses to “The Essence of a band”

  1. Marty Says:

    You left out the “dark age” of Aerosmith without Joe Perry…

  2. Roland Says:

    Yeah. Aerosmith without with of the “Toxic Twins” is not Aerosmith.

    Also, Pink Floyd without Roger Waters was still Pink Floyd. Without David Gilmour, no way.

  3. newhoosier Says:

    Guns N Roses anyone? I think there’s a quote by Slash that goes, “In Axl’s mind Guns is a solo project.”

  4. newhoosier Says:

    Oh and 100% right about AC/DC. Brian Johnson was the perfect fit to the hole left by Bon Scott.

  5. Desktopjunk Says:

    Thanks, always good posts on your blog!

  6. Mike Says:

    Brian Johnson was great for the first couple albums, but his smoking and singing technique literally eroded his voice. Bon Scott was always the man, and although AC/DC was still a great band after his death, I believe that the essence definitely SHIFTED. With Bon Scott, they were cleaner and more blues-oriented. After his death, they played with a fatter, raunchier, muddier “essence.”

    Some wonderful observations here. I just saw Skynyrd at the Greek Theater in LA, and while it sucks that only 2.5 (I count Johnny Van Zant as half of an original person since he’s Ronnie’s brother :p) of the members are from the original band, they still sounded wonderful and brough me back.

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