A recent article by Victor Ruiz on this site as well as the discussion of Motley Crue on Talking Metal episode 676 shifted my brain into overdrive. When it goes into overdrive, I obsess. For the last few days I’ve been asking myself “when does a singer change a band’s sound so much that the band should change the name? “
For example, why didn’t Creed keep the name after they got Myles Kennedy? I know that Mark Tremonti wanted to make a clean break from the albatross known as Scott Stapp but the sound of the first Alter Bridge album sounds like Creed. Now before you bash Creed, please realize that Tremoni is a great guitarist, they had some kick ass songs and sold millions of records. It can be argued that they were the vanguards of new hard arena rock in the early 2000s. I was at the show in Chicago where Stapp lost it and I get the resentment towards him and his hypocritical image. Yet, Alter Bridge continues to kick ass and it is Creed without Stapp. So the question is, what if they kept the Creed name?
Then there’s Motley Crue in 1994 with John Corabi. The band took their sound to a darker and heavier level and they really didn’t sound like Motley Crue. Yet it was the same band with a new voice, branded as Motley Crue. What if they called it something else?
I remember picking up 5150 and liking it yet thinking it really didn’t sound like Van Halen. Then I saw them on tour and every subsequent tour with Sammy Hagar and they ignored II through Diver Down. I resented Sammy for this. I loved F.U.C.K. and saw it as a perfect opportunity to re introduce the classic Roth material but they didn’t, which made for another tour of frustration. Instead of becoming the American Stones or Zeppelin, they became America’s Deep Purple. Despite the fact Van Halen is the last name of 2 band members, they should have called the band Van Hagar.
Which brings up Deep Purple. They’ve had 5 different singers (Evans, Gillan, Coverdale/Hughes & Turner) through the years but for some reason, the sound was always there. This is most likely due to the dominance of John Lord, Ian Paice and Richie Blackmore. Coverdale and Hughes brought a lot of the same vocal elements that Ian Gillan had. When Blackmore left, maybe Come Taste the Band should have been recorded under another name.
AC/DC got Brian Johnson because Bon Scott died. The singer was different but the sound remained the same. A name change would have been ridiculous.
Which brings us to Black Sabbath. This is not going to be a popular opinion but great Sabbath (Masters, Vol. 4) and not so great Sabbath (Ecstasy and Never Say Die) is defined by Ozzy’s voice. I love the Dio era albums but they should have always called the band Heaven and Hell. I know the name was chosen because of the fear of Sharon but it was a perfect moniker. Don’t even get me started on the Iommi solo projects that were called Black Sabbath.
If I forgot a band, please comment below. If you agree, disagree or think I’m completely full of shit the comment section is a little lower so fire away.
Written by Joe Becht. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBecht