Axl Rose Joins AC/DC: 15 Other Singer Swaps, Ranked From Best to Worst (Videos)
From Black Sabbath to INXS, here’s the good and the bad in flipping frontmen
Tim Kenneally | April 18, 2016 @ 3:11 PM
Last Updated: April 18, 2016 @ 7:22 PM
After weeks of speculation, Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose is stepping in to replace longtime AC/DC screamer Brian Johnson, who bowed out of the band's current Rock or Bust tour due to hearing-loss issues.
While the choice has sparked a robust dialogue among AC/DC fans, it's hardly the first time that a band has swapped out singers. Music history is rife with such examples.
As the debate over Axl/DC rages on, TheWrap ranks previous singer-swaps from best to worst -- starting, oddly enough, with ...
1) AC/DC (Brian Johnson)
With the 1980 death of singer Bon Scott, AC/DC faced a situation that would have broken most bands -- and they very seriously considered splitting up. Instead they hired Brian Johnson, and reemerged mere months later with "Back in Black," which remains one of the top-selling albums of all time.
2) Pink Floyd (David Gilmour)
Syd Barrett's tenure with Pink Floyd spawned a psychedelic classic, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" -- and a mass of headaches for the band, as drug casualty Barrett slipped further and further into decay. Enter David Gilmour, who stepped in on guitar and vocals and helped propel the band to legendary status.
3) Jefferson Airplane (Grace Slick)
"Jefferson Airplane Takes Off," with singer Signe Toly Anderson, was a perfectly serviceable debut album. But once Grace Slick came aboard to handle microphone duties, the rest was acid-drenched history.
4) Van Halen (Sammy Hagar)
Say what you want about the Van Hagar era -- the former Montrose member breathed new life into the group and drove them to even greater commercial success.
5) Genesis (Phil Collins)
Genesis with Peter Gabriel enchanted bong-clutching fans of prog-rock. When drummer Phil Collins assumed lead vocal duties, they became a pop phenomenon.
6) Black Sabbath (Ronnie James Dio)
Following the initial Ozzy Osbourne era, former Rainbow belter Dio kept the metal horns flying with albums "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules," two worthy additions to the Sabbath catalog.
7) Faith No More (Mike Patton)
This Bay Area combo was a modest radio presence before Mike Patton came aboard to replace singer Chuck Mosley. As it turns out, fans cared a lot ... about the new guy.
After Steve Perry went his separate ways with the band, they hired his Filipino equivalent in the form of Arnel Pineda, whose uncanny vocal similarity to Perry has kept fans on board with the new lineup.
9) Stone Temple Pilots (Chester Bennington)
Linkin Park singer Bennington might have seemed an odd choice to replace troubled STP frontman Scott Weiland, but he fit the bill strangely well, and was surely a more stable presence than Weiland. Earlier this year, the band announced online auditions for its next singer, so who knows -- you might be on this list next year.
10) Creedence Clearwater Revisited (John Tristao)
Yes, this CCR rehash featuring original members Stu Cook and Doug Clifford was never destined for much beyond the county fair circuit, but with hard-headed CCR frontman John Fogerty refusing to entertain the idea of a reunion, this configuration will do the job, if you squint hard enough, with a few beers in you.
11) Motley Crue (John Corabi)
Dr. Feelgood definitely wasn't in the house for Crue fans with this post-Vince Neil offering. After a poor-selling album and EP, Neil was placed back in the saddle for 1997's "Generation Swine."
12) Van Halen (Gary Cherone)
While Sammy Hagar helped boost sales even while dividing fans' loyalties, pretty much nobody was into this Van Halen iteration with former Extreme singer Cherone holding down vocal duties.
13) The New Cars (Todd Rundgren)
Hey, who wants to hear Cars classics without the vocals of Ric Ocasek or Ben Orr? Nobody, really, but Todd Rundgren gave it the old college try anyway.
14) Dead Kennedys (Brandon Cruz)
After a breakup and prolonged legal drama with original singer Jello Biafra, the group reformed with former child actor Brandon Cruz ("The Portrait of Eddie's Father") as singer, which seemed a tad gimmicky and not particularly punk rock.
15) INXS (J.D. Fortune)
This Aussie MTV staple's efforts to replace deceased singer Michael Hutchence eventually led them to find a replacement in that classiest of formats -- on a reality TV singing competition. The group chose J.D. Fortune via "Rock Star: INXS," but as it turns out, it wasn't what fans needed.