10 bands who continued after their lead singer died


A great musician cannot be replaced, no matter what they do. When someone is truly exceptional, whether as a bass player, drummer, or guitarist, they are irreplaceable. They possess a unique talent that can be replicated but not fully embodied. In the same way that a painting can be reproduced, the discerning eye will notice differences, and nothing will ever compare to the original. Arguably, the singer is the most difficult person to replace in a band.

A guitar solo can be learned and copied. The new member will not be able to play it as well or improvise as the original, but the fundamentals remain. A vocal tone is distinct. It is something completely unique to the individual. In that regard, a vocal cord could be compared to a fingerprint, as it is  what distinguishes all singers and gives them their distinct appeal.

As result, when band’s lead singer dies, void in the outfit remains unfilled. There are ways to paper over the cracks, just as circular block can fit through square hole, but the band will never be the same again.

Some bands disband after losing a singer, while others persevere, refusing to let tragedy hinder their passion. Most singers wouldn’t want the music they’ve worked so hard on to be forgotten simply because they’ve passed away. As a result, many bands have continued to perform and produce music even after the non-fungible fingerprint has been removed from everything.

Some are far more successful than others, but here are ten who gave a revival a fair shot.


AC/DC were the perfect storm of rock music. If you need proof that fate exists, consider how these four people came together. The heavy riffs and head-banging drum beats, combined with Angus Young’s face-melting solos and Bon Scott’s screaming vocals, were always destined for success. And it was. That is, until lead singer Bon Scott tragically died from acute alcohol poisoning.

The band knew they wanted to continue performing and making music, but they also knew Scott had a unique talent. So, when looking for a replacement, they decided to go with something completely different rather than a carbon copy. Brian Johnson’s gravelly vocal tone provided the band with a much rawer sound, allowing them to experiment with their sound more, resulting in the classic album Back In Black.

Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy is one of the most successful rock bands to have ever arose from Ireland, thanks in large part to the charisma and talent of their bassist and lead vocalist, Phil Lynott. Unfortunately, Lynott died of septicaemia in 1986 after years of substance abuse, leaving a huge hole in what made Thin Lizzy so unique and exciting to watch.

The band went on hiatus for a while before reuniting a decade later to perform tribute shows to Lynott’s life and career. The shows were well-attended, but the reviews varied, with many fans disagreeing with the band’s decision to perform without Lynott. Thin Lizzy reformed in 2012, with Ricky Warwick on vocals, before forming Black Star Riders, a new band featuring the same lineup.


Freddie Mercury’s death had a profound impact on the music industry. He is still regarded as one of the greatest frontman of all time, leaving a legacy that will be passed down through generations. When you’ve had such a huge influence, it’s nearly impossible for a band to replace you, but Queen has tried and continues to tour the world.

They began with Paul Rodgers of the bands Free and Bad Company, who joined in 2004 and remained with them for five years. They even recorded another album together, The Cosmos Rocks. When he left, reality TV star Adam Lambert took over as vocalist and continues to tour with the band to this day.


Michael Hutchence died in 1977, so INXS decided to either stop performing or look for a new singer. They chose the latter, but their search for Hutchence’s replacement drew criticism for being insensitive to the late singer.

They hosted the reality TV show Rock Star: INXS, in which singers auditioned and competed to become the band’s new singer. It’s a bad way to find a lead singer because chemistry with the band and the ability to collaborate are just as important as vocal talent. Unsurprisingly, they had a tumultuous relationship with the show’s winner, J.D. Fortune, who lasted five years with INXS before being replaced by Ciaran Gribbin.


When Bradley Knowle died of an overdose in 1996, Sublime fans were shocked and devastated because they would never be able to see one of their favourite bands perform again. The surviving members continued to make music under a new name, The Long Beach Dub All Stars, before attempting to resurrect the original band.

Roam Ramirez took on vocal duties for the new Sublime. He was decent and stuck to the original sound. But there were legal ramifications to reforming and producing music under the name Sublime. As a result, the band had to rebrand as Sublime with Roam. However, the newer lineup has struggled to connect with fans.

Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots were already breaking up with lead singer Scott Weiland before his death in 2015. But his death was still a huge blow to the music industry because he had done so much with the band since joining. At the time of his death, the band was on tour with Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington.

Unfortunately, Bennington died in 2017, two years after deciding to leave Stone Temple Pilots. Following that, the band began performing with Jeff Gutt, with whom they continue to collaborate on albums.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

In what is arguably one of the most famous and devastating rock tragedies of all time, a plane carrying the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed after running out of fuel. It killed lead singer Robert Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Allen Collins, and backing singer Cassie Gaines. “I remember most of it,” says the band’s guitarist Gary Rossington. “The rapid descent, the screaming, my friends in pain like something out of Vietnam”. “I woke up with the plane door on top of me.”

Naturally, such a tragic event set the band back for a while, and Lynyrd Skynyrd took a decade-long hiatus. It wasn’t until after this period that the band reunited, with Robert Van Zant’s brother, Johnny, taking over vocals.

Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead have arguably one of the world’s strongest fan bases. This means that when lead singer Jerry Garcia died, fans were devastated but also determined to support the band during this difficult time by continuing to attend shows. Garcia was obsessed with the music he and his band created. So it’s understandable that he wanted the Grateful Dead to continue performing.

The band has never found a consistent singer. However, due to the improvisational nature of their live show, several different singers have performed with them. They shaped their sound around whoever they are playing with. They’ve also gone by various names depending on who they’re playing with, including The Other Ones and The Dead Further.

Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains was in a slump in 2002, and they were also dealing with drug addiction. This was the same year that lead singer Layne Staley was discovered dead, in 2002. The band took a break before returning to the stage with several guest singers.

William DuVall took over full-time vocals in 2006. Since then, the band has managed to maintain a relatively successful career by releasing music and performing.

Joy Division

Joy Division’s career lasted only four years before lead singer Ian Curtis tragically committed suicide. However, they left an indelible mark on the music industry and continue to inspire new musicians today. When Curtis died, the band decided to continue making music, but under a new name and in different direction.

They reformed as New Order and went on to have an extremely successful career. Their music is far more dance-oriented than Joy Divisions’, but songwriting elements have been carried over. New Order is still considered influential today, as they continue to perform and create music.

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