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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

What do Vince Gill, Adam Lambert, Sammy Hagar and Brian Jones have in common? Are you asking who is Brian Jones? Sit back and I’ll tell you.  They all joined legendary bands after the ones they replaced either left the band or passed away. 

After Glenn Frey died in 2016, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt decided to continue as the Eagles, adding Frey’s son Deacon, and Vince Gill, to the band.  Not ready to let his love of music start slipping away, 22-time Grammy Award winner Vince Gill can’t believe his luck.  Vince says Don Henley wanted him to join The Eagles.  Henry said they chose Gill because he knows what it means to be in a band.  Back in the early to mid 1980’s, Vince was in a group called Pure Prairie League.  Interesting little tidbit about Deacon Frey, there was an NBC show in the 1980’s centered around a church that starred Sherman Hemsley.  The show was called Amen and the main character, played by Hemsley, was Deacon Earnest Frye.  I’m sure it’s just a coincidence but still funny, even if it’s spelled differently.

Adam Lambert started out finishing 2nd in the 2009 season of American Idol.  Turns out that wasn’t a bad thing.  The drummer of Queen confirmed that it was a performance when Lambert was a contestant on season 8 of Idol that spurred him to contact his bandmates saying he may have found a new lead singer for Queen.  They first performed together with Adam in 2009 when Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor appeared as guests on Idol.  This incarnation of Queen + Adam Lambert have been an active unit since 2011.

Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth in Van Halen in 1985 and recorded four studio albums with the band-“5150”, “OU812”, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” and “Balance”-all of which topped the U.S. chart.  In contrast, the highest-charting Roth-led Van Halen album was their album called “1984”, which peaked at #2. Why the replacement? Roth quit to start a solo career-enter Sammy Hagar. 

Brian Jones became the lead singer of Rock group AC/DC after the 1980 death of then-lead Bonn Scott.  Scott replaced Dave Evans as the lead singer of the group in 1974.  AC/DC’s popularity grew throughout the 1970’s, initially in Australia, and then internationally.  Their 1979 album Highway to Hell reached top 20 in the United States.  The band seemed to be on the verge of a commercial breakthrough.  However, on February 19, 1980, Scott died after a night out with former musician and alleged drug dealer Alistair Kinnear.  AC/DC briefly considered disbanding, but the group recruited vocalist Brian Johnson of the British glam rock band Geordie.  AC/DC’s subsequent album, Back In Black, released 5 months later as a tribute to Scott, went on to become the second-best selling album in history.

This last one is a little different.  Country band Lonestar hit the scene in 1994 with bass guitarist/vocalist John Rich, Michael Btitt, Dean Sams and Keach Rainwater.  Rich wanted to do stuff that didn’t coincide with the sound of the band.  Out went John and in came Richie McDonald as permanent lead.  To be fair, McDonald started to do more of the lead before John even left.  Leaving turned out being the best thing for John, even if it did take a few years to find his footing, being paired with a guy called Big Kenny.  Big & Rich was born! Ironically, McDonald would leave the band in 2007 for a solo career.  He returned in 2011 but left again in 2021.  Britt, McDonald, Rainwater and Sams are the members as of now.  The original line-up of Lonestar can be traced to two Texan bands: Texasee and Canyon. 

I got the idea for this column from watching a recent episode of Circle Network’s show Dinner Drive with Kyle Petty.  On this particular episode, Petty’s guest was John Rich.

If you’re in the podcast mood, check mine out called Blendertainment.  Click the links below.


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