At the beginning of the year, Boston metalcore giants Killswitch Engage announced that they had parted ways with vocalist Howard Jones, and two weeks ago they announced they were bringing their first vocalist, Jesse Leach, back into the fold. At the very least, it seems a way to ensure they won't show up on our list of the least successful replacement singers in rock and metal. Yes, Virginia, Gary Cherone (above) is involved.
10. Every Dead Kennedys vocalist not named Jello Biafra
Dead Kennedys (2001-present)
Disputes over royalty payments and licensing have left Jello Biafra on the sidelines while the rest of the Dead Kennedys continue to play punk rock festivals as a sad nostalgia act. Vocalists since 2001 have included non-luminaries such as Dr. Know frontman Brandon Cruz, Jeff Penalty, and current vocalist Skip Greer. No singer yet has matched the energy and power that Biafra's vocals gave to these songs.
9. Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek
The Doors (1971-1973)
Even on the most pedestrian Doors songs, Jim Morrison still provided a charismatic presence that lifted the material. When he passed away in 1971, the band should have hung it up. But considering their previous album L.A. Woman was a huge critical and commercial success, one can't really fault them for chugging along. Kreiger and Manzarek shared vocal duties on 1971's Other Voices and 1972's Full Circle, but neither one did the trick.
8. Israel Joseph I
Bad Brains (1993-1994)
Original vocalist H.R. has always had a volatile relationship with the rest of Bad Brains. A disagreement in the early '90s led to them replacing him with Israel Joseph I. The subsequent 1993 album Rise saw one of the most influential punk-rock acts of the 80's failing to adapt well to the changing music landscape. The effort was a jumbled mess of major-label funk-rock, grunge, and proto-rap metal that didn't excel at any of those things. Joseph didn't cut it, and H.R. was back in the fold within two years.
7. Matt McGachy
This French-Canadian group made their name with technical death-metal classics like Blasphemy Made Flesh and None So Vile. They made a colossal error with 2007's The Unspoken King. After firing original vocalist Lord Worm, the band made an attempt at jumping on the metalcore bandwagon. They brought in a vocalist that could do the good cop (clean)-bad cop (death) vocals of the genre. Unfortunately, this both pissed off their fans, and metalcore had already peaked in popularity by the time the album came out. Cryptopsy has yet to release a follow-up.
6. Ripper Owens
Judas Priest (1996-2002) / Iced Earth (2004-2007)
Ripper Owens is not a bad singer. In fact, he is quite good. And the story behind him getting the Judas Priest gig makes you feel good. However, Owens did not bring the amount of soul and gravitas to his efforts that original Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford and previous Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow brought. Fans of both bands were happy when Halford and Barlow re-joined their respective bands.
5. Johnny Solinger
Skid Row (1999-present)
Sure, it's irritating whenever we see original frontman Sebastian Bach doing another interview about how Axl Rose is his BFF, or popping up as a participant of another shitty VH1 series. But he is still nowhere near as pathetic as Skid Row has been without him. 2003's Thickskin and 2006's Revolutions Per Minute were full of lackluster radio rock, with Solinger bringing the appropriate level of nothing to his vocals.
4. Blaze Bayley
Iron Maiden (1994-1999)
When vocalist Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden in the early '90s, the band should have found a vocalist that could be just as powerful as the man nicknamed “The Air Raid Siren.” Unfortunately, they picked Blaze Bayley. The group's popularity was hurt immensely by the flat, emotionless performances given by Bayley on 1995's The X Factor and 1998's Virtual XI. The disparity in vocal presence was made even more obvious when Dickinson rejoined the band in 1999, and started singing Bayley-era songs on tour.
3. Gary Cherone
Van Halen (1996-1999)
Fans will always argue over the merits of Van Halen's Sammy Hagar era. Just about everyone though can find common ground in how disastrous it was to replace him with former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone. Lacking both the charismatic presence of David Lee Roth and the every-man likability of Hagar, Cherone provided zero memorable moments during his brief stint with the band. 1998's Van Halen III would be the band's least commercially successful record, and they didn't have the luxury of blaming illegal downloading then. The album just plain stunk.
2. Whitfield Crane
Life Of Agony (1998)
Throughout the 1990s, Life Of Agony evolved from the tough New York groove-metal of their 1993 debut River Runs Red to the expertly well-done alternative-rock of 1997's Soul Searching Sun. The one constant throughout the evolution was the deeply emotional vocal delivery of Keith Caputo. When Caputo left before the band's run on Ozzfest 1998, they recruited Ugly Kid Joe frontman Whitfield Crane. The goofball persona Crane had presented with his previous band already turned LOA fans against him. He failed to turn the tide with his failed attempts at replicating Cavuto's vocals live, and the band broke up after Ozzfest. We at least give the band credit for breaking up before they went into the studio, unlike…
1. Dan Nelson
After alienating vocalist John Bush in 2005 by reuniting with previous singer Joey Belladonna for an Among The Living-era reunion tour, and then failing to get along with Belladonna well enough to do a new album with him, Anthrax found themselves at a crossroad. They grabbed unknown vocalist Dan Nelson out of the Chicago metal scene, took him on tour, and even recorded a new album with him. What happened then remains a mystery, as Anthrax released a statement indicating that Nelson left the band due to illness. Nelson then released his own statement expressing that he was shocked to hear that he had resigned from the band, and the statements of illness were false. We will likely never know what really happened, but whatever it was, Nelson has been pissed off ever since.
Anthrax eventually patched things up with Belladonna, and he laid down new vocals for what ended up being 2011's Worship Music. So far the original tracks containing Nelson's vocals have not leaked, so all we know about his stint with the band is from live YouTube clips. Still, the sheer amount of time and effort he's put in with the band qualifies him as number one on our list.