Lead singers, from Michael Stipe to Joey Ramone to Eddie Vedder, are inextricably tied to a band’s identity. As the person out front, they are usually the mouthpiece, often the lyric writer and easily the most visible member of the group. Today, we’re looking at punk, indie and alternative bands that, in spite of all that, changed their lead singers.

When the subject of replacement frontmen (and women) comes up, most people think of classic rock bands that have done it. Black Sabbath replaced Ozzy Osbourne with Ronnie James Dio, the Doors tried to move on without Jim Morrison and a host of arena rock bands from Journey to Foreigner continue to tour without the singer that helped make the group famous.

But alt. rock bands are just as culpable when it comes to switching out the de facto leader of the group. Sometimes the change in singer is due to creative differences (Rage Against the Machine), other times it is a result of death (Alice in Chains) and occasionally the singer develops the condition known as “wanting to go solo” (10,000 Maniacs). Sometimes the band soldiers on – perhaps even changing its name, as when Joy Division became New Order, but the switch also can prove too much for fans to accept.

In this gallery we explore some of the most famous, and infamous, bands that replaced their lead singer, which should serve as a reminder to vocalists everywhere that you should never get too comfortable.

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