What members can a band survive losing?

I thought of this when I heard The Who were touring soon. I then realized that with John Entwhistle and Keith Moon gone from the original line-up, they only have Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey left. Yet, I still view them as The Who. If you brought back the 2 dead ones and took away either of the live ones, I couldn’t really view them as The Who anymore.

And that’s the point of this thread. Which members could a particular band lose to death but you’d still view them as the same caliber of band?

If the Beatles had lost Ringo, they could have easily gone on. I think any of the other 3 would have ended the band as people knew it.

If Hootie & The Blowfish lost Darius Rucker, they would cease to be even a mediocre band. I am guessing lead singers are the toughest loss to take, although as AC/DC showed, if you replace with someone that can get it done, you’ll survive.

The Stones could easily survive the loss of Ron Wood.

Off to our forum for entertainment and the arts.

Moved from IMHO to CS.

I disagree with you entirely about The Who. They were not the same after Moon died. Still an OK band, but not at all what they were.

When I think of The Who, I think of Daltry, Townsend, Entwhistle and Moon. No substitutes need apply.

ELO without Jeff Lynne wouldn’t work.

ABBA has to have all four members.

Alison Krauss & Union Station has gone through quite a few personnel changes over the years and remained consistantly excellent. Although, I think the loss of Jerry Douglas would hurt them a bit.

Maybe the same “caliber of band” but not the same band.

The Moody Blues are an interesting case, as they existed, and even had hits, before Justin Hayward and John Lodge joined the group, yet it’s hard to think of them as The Moody Blues without Hayward and Lodge. (Now I wonder if there are other examples of bands that existed before the member(s) came along who really gave them their identity. I guess some people might think of Fleetwood Mac that way.) I’m undecided whether they retained their identity as a band when they lost Ray Thomas, or even when they lost Mike Pinder.

The Kinks must include both Ray and Dave Davies; anyone else is optional.

For me, Fleetwood Mac ain’t Fleetwood Mac without Christine McVie.

Often the weakest or simply least essential member. The Who without Entwistle wasn’t really missing anything sonically; it’s not like they were a funk band where the bass was prominent or central to the songs.

I have to admit that I like it when bands lose memberrs that are essential to their sound but slog on, because it often pushes them in an interesing, or at the very least different direction. When Damon Albarn left Blur, taking his distinctive guitar style with him, their sound changed slightly but it was enough to give them a fresh new angle. Ditto for Smashing Pumpkins; when drummer Jimmy Chamberlain was fired, it forced the band into an electronic direction.

Blood, Sweat and Tears existed (and had a successful album out) before David Clayton-Thomas joined them, but people don’t imagine the group without him. Most of the rest of the group could probably leave (most of them did) and it would still be BS&T to most people.

Traffic could lose members with impugnity as long as Steve Winwood was part of the act.

Same for the Mothers of Invention – as long as Frank Zappa was there, they maintained their identity.

Agreed. Losing Moon wasn’t as bad as, say, losing Neil Peart would be to Rush, but it was definitely equivalent to Led Zeppelin losing John Bonham. Moon was essential to the Who.

Shit, Fleetwood Mac ain’t Fleetwood Mac without Peter Green. Yet they are an example of a band that lost an absolutely essential member, yet continued on, radically changing their sound and becoming in essence a whole new band. Pink Floyd, with the loss of Syd Barrett, is another example. IMO, though, they didn’t survive losing Roger Waters – David Gilmour is a godlike guitarist, but he’s just not creatively talented enough to hack it on his own.

There are any number of bands that consist of one person who’s the main creative force and whoever else they can get to play instruments (e.g, Megadeth is Dave Mustaine and some other guys). They can lose anyone but that one person and be OK.

At the other extreme, there are bands who have lost all of their original members and are still going strong. The best example I can think of is Napalm Death, who’ve been through a couple lineups without anyone from the band’s first LP.

Like so many other things, the answer is that it depends.

And for those in doubt about this, try attending an ELO Pt II concert.

Actually, don’t do that. I did it and it was fucking terrible. So now you don’t have to.

There was an ELO Part II. Interesting. Me, being a big ELO fan, you’d think I’d have heard about it. Hmmmm. Learn something new everyday.


I disagree. Traffic was only ever Winwood, Capaldi and Wood. (Yeah, I know all about Dave Mason.) Losing Wood was almost too much. Listen to “Far From Home” or watch “Last Traffic Jam”. Great music (especially the video), but barely Traffic. Now, with the death of Capaldi, Traffic can never be again. I love what Winwood has been doing the last few years, but it ain’t Traffic.

Rush would not survive the loss of any member. This is probably the case with just about any 3-piece band, but moreso with Rush because each of them provides such an integral and distinctive component to the music.

Iron Maiden would not be Iron Maiden without Steve Harris and Dave Murray. Indeed, they have survived with a variety of guys in the other three slots (I thing 3 singers, 3 drummers, and 3 or 4 other guitarists) without a great deal of sonic variation. But without Steve and Dave, they would sound completely different. Still, the “classic” lineup of Harris, Murray, Smith, Dickinson and McBrain, first assembled on their fourth album, seems to be what most people think of as “Iron Maiden”.

Judas Priest survived a parade of drummers, but when Rob Halford went solo, they tanked, despite retaining the original core of Tipton, Downing and Hill on guitars and bass. Halford’s vocals were just too definitive to replace.

At the very least, you’d have to say they’re imPerfect without her.

I don’t think Townshend and Daltry view it as The Who.

I’m not sure about the Beatles and Ringo, and I don’t think any power trio can lose any member without drastic changes.

I went to an ELO Part II concert. They were … meh. Not horrible. Not great.

On the other hand … ELO with Jeff Lynne and without everyone else (ie, the album Zoom) was pretty sucky, too.

Genesis without Phil Collins. True, Collins wasn’t part of the first two albums. But, a Genesis with Ray Wilson as vocalist and Phil on drums might have worked. Genesis survived the loss of Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett as well as the early years loss of Ant Phillips and John Mayhew. The loss of Collins was devastating.

The album was not so good. The concert DVD, OTOH, was pretty good.