These Bands Made Lineup Changes That Completely Changed Music History

AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01: Photo of PANTERA (Photo by Bob King/Redferns)
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In a band, every member contributes to the dynamic in one way or another. That’s why when a change is made to the lineup, however seemingly minor, things are never quite the same. Maybe the new guitarist can play faster than the old one, offering new opportunities for epic solos than before. Maybe your new lead singer can’t hit those ridiculously high notes that the old guy could, and you have to adjust the arrangements accordingly. In any event, the sound will never be exactly what it was before. Sometimes, though, it goes beyond that, and the addition of a new member (or the subtraction of an old one) doesn’t just slightly alter the dynamic of the band, but transforms it entirely. These five bands had their sound drastically altered by lineup changes, and would never be the same.

Phil Anselmo (Pantera)

We’ve covered this in greater detail before, but before Anselmo joined Pantera, they were basically a glam/hair metal outfit. Anselmo was crucial to the change in the band’s sound that led to classic albums like Cowboys from Hell and Vulgar Display of Power. His hard-edged vocals, and passion for thrash-ier music permanently changed how the band approached things, and by pretty much every measure, they were better for it.

Scott Travis (Judas Priest)

To hear the impact that Travis had as Judas Priest’s drummer, all you really have to do is listen to opening of “Painkiller,” the first track on the first album he recorded with the band. The former Racer X drummer gave Priest’s sound a considerable upgrade with his frantic, phenomenal drum skills. After two albums that lacked Priest’s signature killer instinct (Turbo Lover and Ram It Down), bringing in Travis for the Painkiller album gave Priest their mojo back, and helped them create one of the best albums of their career.

Phil Collen (Def Leppard)

Def Leppard are generally viewed as being something in-between arena rock and hair metal, but on their first two albums (1980’s On Through the Night and 1981’s High and Dry), they were more of a straight-up hard rock band, writing some of the most aggressive material of their career. Their third album, Pyromania, was still heavy in parts, but had a greater pop sensibility. The addition of guitarist Phil Collen to the band seemed to contribute to that. Pyromania was his first album with Def Lep, and the band was permanently changed for it. They still had their hard rock edge, but they added a considerable knack for pop hooks. While Mutt Lange was responsible for a lot of that, Collen should get some credit for shaping the band’s sound, too.

Steve Hackett/Phil Collins (Genesis)

On Genesis’s first album (From Genesis to Revelation), they showed signs of their prog-rock future, but were more of a psych/folk outfit. On the follow-up, Trespass, their prog leanings were beginning to show up (the songs were getting longer, for one thing), but they still hadn’t reached the peak of their powers. Before releasing Nursery Cryme in 1971, they added guitarist Steve Hackett and drummer Phil Collins to the mix, and they were never the same. With their ideal lineup in place, the band became more sure-footed and released some of the best work of their career, like Foxtrot and Selling England by the Pound. Peter Gabriel would leave the band in 1974, but the four albums they made with Gabriel, Hackett, and Collins all on board represent their absolute peak.

Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)

For Iron Maiden’s first two albums — their self-titled debut and 1981’s Killers — they were fronted by Paul Di’Anno, who gave the band a considerable edge, particularly on classics like “Running Free” and “Wrathchild.” But after two albums, he left, and would be replaced by Bruce Dickinson, and with him, Maiden formed the sound that would eventually become their calling card. With Dickinson’s epic, operatic vocals, the band took on a more anthemic nature, as soaring tracks like “Run to the Hills” and “The Trooper” would go on to become their most enduring songs. Iron Maiden had a hard-nosed dynamic with Di’Anno, but the addition of Dickinson gave them a chance to explore new directions, and their newfound tendency towards epic metal anthems would become a permanent part of their identity.