It’s quite uncommon for a band to retain its original lineup throughout their entire career. For every U2, there are twenty bands who play musical chairs with their ever changing band members. Infighting, creative differences and the trappings of success are just a few of the reasons bands become fractured. Sometimes the chemistry isn’t right. Sometimes, a band can’t function at its zenith it its current state and a change must be made.
Some bands make one switch, to one member of the band and go on like nothing ever happened. Others change members more frequently. Sometimes, replacement band members are viewed just as that; a replacement. Other times, the replacements find a way to ingrain themselves and become the “known” member of their instrument in the band’s history. But arguably, the best outcome is when a new member comes in and not only fits in, but eclipses their predecessor.
Whatever the reason for the change, they’re almost constantly happening. The sum of a band should be greater than iits individual members but having the right collection of people can make a world of difference. Here is a look at the Top Ten Best Replacement Band Members in Alternative.
- Matt Sorum- Gun’s N’ Roses
At the beginning of the recording sessions for 1991’s double masterpiece, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, drummer Steven Adler was abruptly dismissed for the band. Jumping into the biggest rock band in the world is no easy feat. Sorum made it look easy. Assimilating himself into the crux of the band, performing drums on all but one of the thirty tracks from the Illusion albums. Following the disillusion of the “classic” Gun’s era Sorum went on to form Velvet Revolver with former band members Slash and Duff McKagan.
- Scott Shriner- Weezer
By the time Weezer got set to tour their third album, the eponymous-Green-colored Weezer, they were also onto their third bass player. By 2001 original Weezer bassist Matt Sharp was long gone and his initial replacement Mikey Welsh was out as well. Scott Shriner was set to go in 2002 taking over bass duties on the band’s fourth album, Maladroit. Shriner has been with the band ever since, having recorded seven albums with the group; over two times more than both his predecessors combined.
- Ben Shepard- Soundgarden
Soundgarden released two albums with original bassist Hiro Yamamoto. By time the band released 1991’s Bad Motorfinger, the band had a new bassist in Ben Shepard. A strong bassist as well as unique song-writer, Shepard-penned tracks such as “Half” and Head Down” hold a special place in the hearts of many Soundgarden fans. When the band regrouped in 2010 after a thirteen year breakup, Shepard was back on board. Shepard and the rejuvenated grunge rockers released the fantastic King Animal in 2012.
- William DuVall- Alice in Chains
Replacing a lead singer is never easy. It’s considerably more difficult when it is a voice so synonymous with a style of music and as endearing as Layne Staley. The tragic death of the Alice in Chains front man in 2002 left a void in many. When Alice in Chains reunited in 2005 with William DuVall on lead vocals, the band not only honored Staley’s memory, but successfully built on the band’s storied legacy. Having recorded two albums with Alice, DuVall has been successful in forging his own identity within the band as well as proving a suitable replacement for his fallen predecessor.
- Matt Cameron- Pearl Jam
What does Seattle’s greatest band do when they need their revolving door of drummers to come to an end? How about recruit the drummer of another of Seattle’s greatest bands? That’s exactly what Pearl Jam did in 1998. To replace Jack Irons, the bands fourth drummer, they recruited Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron. Cameron has proven a natural fit with Pearl Jam. As a drummer and songwriter, Cameron has recorded five albums with the grunge anti-rock stars throughout his near two-decade run with the band.
- Dave Grohl- Nirvana
Nirvana released Bleach in 1989. Dave Grohl was not the drummer on that album. That honor goes to Chad Channing. Grohl was on board though for 1991’s genre-defining album, Nevermind. Without doubt, one of rock’s greatest albums, the band were shot into the stratosphere of rock and roll royalty. Nirvana only released one more studio album, In Utero, but Grohl’s, much like the band’s legacy was solidified. Grohl continue his drumming prowess on early Foo Fighters albums, but it is with Nirvana he no doubt make his ultimate mark as a drummer.
- Chad Smith- Red Hot Chili Peppers
Chad Smith. The man, the myth, the legend. Chad Smith has the distinct honor of being the second drummer on this list to replace Jack Irons. People who recommended him to Flea way back in 1988 told him that Smith, “Eats drums for breakfast.” An absolute monster on the drums, Smith has been with the Chili’s now for nearly thirty years. Despite being the third drummer of the band, Smith is no doubt not only one of the most recognized drummers in rock but the only drummer people associate with the Chili Peppers. His hilarious ongoings with dead-ringer Will Ferrell only add to the man’s legend.
- Matt Skiba- Blink 182
Blink 182 had made a career of keeping it light, laughing and having a good time. The good times were clearly a thing of the past when after a half-hearted reunion, tensions quickly boiled over again; this time leading to the exit of vocalist/guitarist Tom Delonge. Enter Alkaline Trio main man Matt Skiba. 2016’s California proved to be everything and then some for fans who were left disappointed after the ill-fated Neighborhoods. Skiba proved the perfect fit for Blink. His voice fits as well on old classics as it does singing in harmony with Mark Hoppus on California. Skiba not only makes you excited for Blink again, he also makes you forget about his predecessor. Not an easy task.
- Taylor Hawkins- Foo Fighters
Taylor Hawking made his entry to the Foo Fighters at the tail end of the recording of the bands 1997 sophomore album, The Colour and the Shape. Being a drummer in Dave Grohl’s band is no walk in the park. Just ask the man Hawkins replaced, William Goldsmith. However, starting with 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose, Hawkins asserted himself as not a powerhouse drummer, but as one of the leaders of one of alternative’s biggest bands. Between the Foo Fighters hilarious early music videos and Hawkins penchant for bringing down the house behind the drum kit, you couldn’t have asked for a better all-around drummer to come into this band.
- John Frusciante- Red Hot Chili Peppers
No one on this list had a bigger impact on the band they joined that John Frusciante. Not only does the monstrous commercial and critical success of the Red Hot Chili Peppers correlate with this tenures in the band, he also twice replaced guitar legends in their own right; Hillel Slovak and Dave Navarro. During his two tenures with the band (1988-1992 and 1988-2009) Frusciante played on classic albums such as Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Californication and Stadium Arcadium. Frusciante went on to become one of rocks greatest and most influential guitarists. His playing, song-writing and vocals were an essential part of the Peppers’ success. While they have rolled on without him, with his own replacement Josh Klinghoffer, Frusciante is still missed by fans of the band and guitar enthusiasts alike.