TWO big name acts - Guns N' Roses and Smashing Pumpkins - are heading to our shores soon and both acts have copped flak recently for continuing to use those band names. In both cases, only the frontman remains, but Axl Rose and Billy Corgan have defended their right to carry on under their respective banners, despite being the only original members left.
But that's nothing - what about bands with no original members left?
Little River Band
ONE of Australia's biggest successes in America, LRB formed in 1975 around the core trio of Glenn Shorrock, Graeham Goble and Beeb Birtles. By the time Shorrock departed in 1982, they had released six albums (five charted in the US), had 11 top 20 singles in America, and were onto their third lead guitarist and fourth bassist. That fourth bassist was Wayne Nelson, who would prove to be a key figure later in the LRB saga. Shorrock's replacement in '82 was John Farnham, but Shorrock returned in '87. By that time, Birtles had already left and when Goble departed in '92, Shorrock was the only founder who remained. Shorrock left again in 1996 but LRB continued, first with Steve Wade out front until Nelson took over vocals in 2000. Nelson, who had played bass with the band since 1980 (except for a three-year break in the '90s) managed to retain the name and continues to play as LRB, as well as blocking a re-united Birtles, Shorrock and Goble from referencing the band name in their concerts or on their albums.
IN perhaps the quickest complete line-up turn-around in music history, this UK prog-folk band started in early 1969 and by the end of 1970, no original members remained. Formed by The Yardbirds' founders Keith Relf and Jim McCarty as a five-piece in January '69, Renaissance all but dissolved by May '70, with only keyboardist John Hawken and singer Jane Relf remaining. Hawken brought in some players from his previous bands but by 1971, Hawken and Jane Relf had departed too. The band's career peaked in the latter half of the '70s, scoring five top 100 albums in the US from '74 to '78 and a top 10 single in the UK (Northern Lights) in 1978. Singer Annie Haslam has been the only constant in the line-up since Renaissance's rebirth in 1971, although guitarist Michael Dunford joined in 1970, quit a year later and rejoined in 1973, and remains in the band to this day.
GOTH shock-rockers Christian Death formed in 1979 and released the influential "deathrock" album Only Theatre Of Pain in 1982. They were led by Rozz Williams (the only constant member in those early years) until his departure in 1985, at which point Valor Kand - the fourth guitarist in the band's short history - and the remaining band members carried on under the Christian Death name. Kand and co. continued to play shows throughout the late '80s and were surprised to find Williams return in 1992 to release a series of albums and play concerts as Christian Death. For at least three years, two bands existed with the same name, with Williams eventually abandoning it and Kand's line-up continuing to this day. But the battle over the group's history still rages - Kand recently wrote a blog on his band's MySpace titled Wikipedia F*** Off, imploring fans to save the Christian Death entry on Wikipedia from the "very evil and corrupt and/or at least very misinformed people that are trying to re-write the history of Christian Death". Williams died more than a decade ago, which means some bitter fans are still annoyed by Kand's use of the Christian Death name more than 25 years after he took over the band.
MAYBE it's something to do with having 'Death' in your name. While the Big Four of thrash metal - Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer - were forging a new path in the US, Napalm Death were slowly finding their sound in the UK, combining noisy punk and metal and eventually becoming defined as death metal. Forming in 1981, it wasn't until 1987 that they released their debut album Scum, by which point none of the original members remained (they'd already been through six guitarists by this point). Four years later and only bassist Shane Embury remained from the line-up that recorded Scum, but he is still with the band. Their initial fame came during Lee Dorrian's stint as frontman, but his replacement Barney Greenway (who joined in 1989) is mostly associated by fans as being the vocalist for Napalm Death. Sadly, founder Nik Napalm (aka Nic Bullen) left the band after recording half of Scum and apparently inadvertantly creating the sub-genre grindcore in the process, but never got to enjoy the success Napalm Death would eventually reach. The line-up has been stable since 1991, except for a year where Greenway quit, and Napalm Death is now regarded as one of the biggest-selling death metal bands of all time.
AFTER their formation in early 1971, this British pub-rock band went through a slow fade-out, both of members and popularity. Influential first two albums Down By The Jetty and Malpractice - both released in 1975 - led them into the UK charts and were followed by their first and only number one record Stupidity, a live album featuring plenty of covers that attempted to capture their highly regarded live show. But the fade-away soon began, with guitarist Wilko Johnson leaving in 1977, just as their first single had charted. His replacement Gypie Mayo only lasted until 1981, during which period they managed their one and only top ten hit Milk & Alcohol. By 1983, lead singer Lee Brilleaux was the only original member left, but he pulled together a line-up that remained solid until the end of the '80s. Most of that line-up decided to keep going after Brilleaux's death in 1994, and are now up to the band's third lead singer (Robert Kane). Strangely, Dr Feelgood's line-up has been unchanged for the last 10 years - the longest consistent stretch of their career.