Why Are So Many Hard-Rock Singers Replaceable?

Apr. 1, 2008
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After weeks of rumors, Velvet Revolver announced yesterday that it was parting with singer Scott Weiland. Slash’s group will carry on with another singer.

I’ve resisted asking this question for years for fear of sounding naive, but what is it about hard-rock culture that makes singers so replaceable? I made a quick, off-the-top of my head list of bands that have switched singers, and while it includes plenty of ’60s/’70s hard-rock acts like Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and ’80s commercial powerhouses like Journey, Boston and Van Halen, and the occasional band whose singer died, like Alice in Chains and Queen, the list contained exactly zero college-rock and indie-rock bands. (Am I overlooking some obvious ones?)

So how come Van Halen and Velvet Revolver can swap superstar singers like they’re touring keyboardists, but The Smiths never attempted a post-Morrissey reunion? Or The Feelies didn’t carry on without Bill Million? Or Damon and Naomi didn’t just replace Dean Wareham and keep Galaxie 500 alive?
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