Nothing stops rock’n’roll, not even death. Over the years, countless bands have reunited despite the demise of one or more key members – some with more success than others. These are 10 of the most high profile bands to reunite despite being a man or two down – not bands who have replaced a terminally departed member right away, but ones who have left it years or even decades before they picked up where they left off.
It was the reunion that everyone wanted to see… until it was actually announced. It turns out that a bunch of people think that maybe it’s not such a great idea for surviving members Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown to reunite under the Pantera name without late guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul. Still, Anselmo and Brown have roped in a pair of solid replacements in Zakk Wylde and Anthrax’s Charlie Benante for 2023’s (sort-of) reunion tour. Will it work? We’ll get back to you next year.
Alice In Chains
A textbook example of how to rise from the ashes of tragedy. The grunge heavyweights had been inactive for years before the death of reclusive singer Layne Staley in 2002. So any reservations that his surviving bandmates had decided to relaunch the band in 2006 with replacement singer William DuVall were outweighed by the fact it was just so damn good to have Alice In Chains back in circulation. Far from tarnishing their stellar legacy, the three albums they’ve released since have instead added to it, with Duvall proving to be his own man.
Weird one, this. Four years after singer and guitarist Wayne Static’s death in 2014, original Static-X bassist Tony Campos, drummer Ken Jay and guitarist Koichi Fukuda announced they were planning to record an album of unreleased songs with a bunch of guest vocalists including Burton C Bell and David Draiman. Cool. But fans were blindsided by the fact that the trio decided to head out on the road as Static-X, featuring a mysterious vocalist calling himself Xero (rumoured to be Dope’s Edsel Dope) whose shtick was that he wore a mask that made him look like… Wayne Static. The tour was a success, but it was still creepy as hell.
Stone Temple Pilots
Scott Weiland was one of the most charismatic singers of the last 30 years, but that didn’t stop the rest of the Stone Temple Pilots replacing him twice – first with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington after Weiland bailed on the band in 2011, and then with former The X Factor contestant Jeff Gutt two years after Weiland’s drug-related death in December 2015. The latter reunion has held, even if the multi-platinum record sales haven’t.
Santa Barbara’s Snot were on a career upswing when singer Lynn Strait and his dog Dobbs were fatally t-boned on the southbound lane of Highway 101 in December 1998, leaving a sole, self-titled album behind him. Two reunions followed, the first in the late 200s with future Bad Wolves frontman Tommy Vext, the second half a decade later with one Carl Bensley, neither of which set the world on fire. Wikipedia says they’re still a going concern with four out of five members of the classic line-up involved, but it’s hella quiet out there.
The black metal pioneers weathered the death of singer Per ‘Dead’ Ohlin in 1991, only to be derailed when session bassist/Burzum mainman/goose-stepping wankpuffin Varg ‘Count Grishnackh’ Vikernes murdered guitarist Oystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth in 1993. Original bassist Necrobutcher’s decision to reactive the band two years later was surprising given the bodycount, but he’s steered Mayhem through the last quarter century without incurring any more fatalities.
Germs singer Darby Crash’s death in 1980 at the age of 22 from a heroin overdose put paid to the LA punk trailblazers’ short career. That live-fast-die-young approach was preserved for 25 years, until actor Shane West went from playing Crash in 2005 Germs biopic What We Do Is Secret to fronting the reunited band on a series of US tours. Given the inverse relationship between their lack of success first time around and their subsequent influence on generation of punk rockers, it’s hard to begrudge them the belated victory lap.
Who knows whether Death mastermind Chuck Schuldiner would have reactivated the groundbreaking death metal icons had he not succumbed to cancer in 2001. More than a decade later, a bunch of his old bandmates made the decision for him, reuniting to tour as Death For All. It could have been an icky cash-in, except former members Gene Hoglan, Sean Reinert, Paul Masdival and Steve DiGiorgio were doing it to keep the memory of their fallen bandmate alive rather than to rake in the dough.
They could have been the British Mercyful Fate, but cult 80s metallers Hell were done in when the label they signed to went under two weeks before they were due to record their debut album. The band reconvened in in the late 2000s with Hell fanboy/production wizard Andy Sneap on guitar, but sadly without original singer/guitarist Dave Halliday, who died by suicide in 1987. New singer Dave Bower – brother of longtime guitarist/keyboard player Kev Bower – did the band’s legacy proud, fronting two terrific albums in 2011’s Human Remains and 2013’s Curse And Chapter.
After the death of the seemingly irreplaceable Freddie Mercury in 1991, even guitarist Brian May and Roger Taylor figured Queen was history. Fast-forward 20 years and one ill-fated union with ex-Free singer Paul Rodgers, and the pair hooked up with ex-American Idol contestant Adam Lambert for a retooled version of the band. Even the most entrenched sceptic was won over by the new boy’s Mercury-level star wattage, as well as his refusal to be a tribute act version of his predecessor. Queen are as big now as they were first time around, so yeah, it turned out pretty well.