Top 10 Bands That Continued After The Lead Singer Died
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Top 10 Bands That Continued After The Lead Singer Died

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
Not even death could stop these bands from rocking! For this list, we'll be ranking the groups who lost their vocalists, yet continued to carry on their careers. Our countdown includes Joy Division, AC/DC, Queen, and more!
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Top 10 Bands to Survive the Death of their Lead Singer


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Bands to Survive the Death of their Lead Singer.

For this list, we'll be ranking the groups who lost their vocalists, yet continued to carry on their careers. This could've been achieved through a name change or a member replacement, so long as the band in question kept on rockin in the face of tragedy.

What’s your favorite band here? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy are one of Ireland's most iconic rock exports, thanks largely in part to the charisma and passion of their bassist, lead singer and songwriter, Phil Lynott. Lynott died in 1986 from septicemia brought on by years of substance abuse, but the music lived on a decade later when the band reformed and began to tour, in tribute to Phil's life and career. These tours were largely successful, although not all of the band's fans approved of a Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott. Undeterred, the band later toured with Ricky Warwick on vocals, before forming a new group, Black Star Riders, with him in 2012.

#9: Queen

Freddie Mercury is one of the music world's all time greatest frontmen, so naturally his death from AIDS-related complications in 1991 left a huge void in the lineup of rock legends Queen. The band would soldier on with another classic rock singer in the form of Paul Rodgers, from the bands Free and Bad Company, who joined them from 2004 to 2009. This collaboration would tour and record the album "The Cosmos Rocks," , albeit without bassist John Deacon, who retired from music in 1997. The same year that Rodgers and the band parted ways, they would join forces with "American Idol" contestant Adam Lambert, and hit the road again.

#8: Stone Temple Pilots

With STP, things are a little different, in that they had already split with their founding lead singer, Scott Weiland, prior to the latter's death in 2015. STP had officially fired Weiland in February of 2013, and were already playing shows with Linkin Park's Chester Bennington as their new vocalist. In a note of tragic irony, Bennington would himself die in July 2017, although he had amicably parted ways with the band two years prior. But as for the Pilots? As of writing, they're again active with new singer Jeff Gutt, with whom they’ve released two studio albums.

#7: Sublime

Sublime's fans were understandably shaken when the band's affable and charismatic vocalist Brad Nowell died from an overdose in 1996. The feeling was shared by Nowell's close family, band mates and friends. The surviving members formed a new band, The Long Beach Dub Allstars, before finally deciding in 2009 to try and resurrect the Sublime name with new frontman Rome Ramirez. This, however, hit legal issues and the band was renamed Sublime with Rome. This new Sublime hasn't quite resonated in the same way with their old fans though, many of which just can't see a Sublime without Nowell on the mic.

#6: INXS

It's one thing to try and replace a departed lead singer, but it's another entirely to broadcast that search to a worldwide television audience. That's exactly what INXS did... eventually. The band had already been experimenting with different vocalists following the death of Michael Hutchence in 1997. But the program "Rock Star: INXS" – a reality show where the band picked from fifteen hopefuls – brought something new. The winner? J.D. Fortune, who in addition to writing the lyrics for “Pretty Vegas” spent a bumpy, five year on and off relationship with the band, until himself being replaced by Ciaran Gribbin in 2011.

#5: Lynyrd Skynyrd

It's possibly one of the most well known and high profile rock tragedies of all time: the 1977 plane crash which took the lives of Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines. Musically, Ronnie left the biggest shoes to fill. But, family roots run deep within the Lynyrd Skynyrd organization, and the band returned a decade later with Van Zant's younger brother Johnny taking over vocal duties. Although their membership has seen additional changes, Johnny has been a stage and studio mainstay with Skynyrd ever since.

#4: Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains were in a career lull and struggling with chemical dependency when their singer Layne Staley was found dead in his home during the Spring of 2002. Three years later the remaining band members would slowly begin the process of performing live again, utilizing a number of guest singers at benefit and awards shows. Finally, in 2006 one of those singers, William DuVall, officially took over vocal duties from Staley as the new frontman for Alice in Chains, a position which he holds to this day.

#3: Grateful Dead

Dead Heads are on another level of dedication to their favorite band. Perhaps this could explain why the band's continued attempts at touring after the death of their singer Jerry Garcia have been embraced remarkably well by their ultra loyal following. The group's surviving members have gone under a number of names, including Fare Thee Well, Dead & Company, and simply The Dead. They’ve mixed in new material and new members along the way, but still they keep on truckin' and their long, strange trip continues...

#2: Joy Division

Joy Division may have only lasted four years before vocalist Ian Curtis took his own life, but their influence has affected younger bands from the worlds of punk, goth, and new wave. A new band, New Order, was formed in the aftermath of Curtis' passing, with Joy Division guitarist Bernard Sumner taking over vocal duties, and leading the band in a more commercial and dance oriented sound. New Order would see themselves as influential as Joy Division was to a whole new generation, proving that the seeds sown by Curtis' time with the group continued to grow.

#1: AC/DC

Bon Scott was an inimitable rock 'n roll presence: a firebrand frontman for the Aussie legends AC/DC whose life was tragically cut short in 1980. Acute alcohol poisoning and pulmonary aspiration were the official causes of Scott's death, and it was up to AC/DC to try and find a replacement for the unique and powerful lead singer. They found one in the form of Brian Johnson, from the band Geordie. Johnson wasn't a Bon Scott clone, however, and his paint-peeling screech gained AC/DC a new lease on life - clearing the path for worldwide domination with the album "Back in Black."
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AC/DC does need #1, because they were very succesful in both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson years.
ACDC deserves the number 1 spot. The Doors put out two decent recordings after Morrison passed on. However The Doors would be a #7 at best.