The Best (and worst) Emergency Rock Singers

If you’re into your music you will have heard the news that Brian Johnson is no longer able to perform live with legends AC/DC. Basically, if you’ve missed it, he’s had too much fun and played his tunes too loud, and now he’s about completely deaf. Axl Rose is stepping in but will it work? Who knows, but Wow247 took a look back where bands have drafted in other front men in previous emergencies!

Joe Strummer and The Pogues

Joe Strummer


After the bubble burst for Joe Strummer on The Clash’s stadium rock status, the singer looked to a rag-tag band of Irish folk-punks for solace. The lead man initially helped out as a touring guitarist and produced the group’s 1990 album Hell’s Ditch, but when Shane MacGowan went characteristically AWOL not long after, Strummer stepped in as the group’s lead singer.

It was clear that this was just a case of a group of musicians who quite enjoyed each other’s company, more than Joe looking to steal the limelight away from the slurry MacGowan – but that didn’t stop fans chanting Shane’s name at gigs.

Verdict: Is it really The Pogues, if Shane isn’t there?

David Gilmour and Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd initially burst on to London’s psychedelia scene fronted by the wild-eyed Syd Barrett, a talented public schoolboy in the grip of an LSD craze. However, Syd’s behaviour eventually moved from ‘far out’ to genuinely troubling as the singer was left somewhat fried by the drug culture of the Swinging Sixties.

Gilmour was initially brought in as a fifth member, but eventually became the group’s lead singer on iconic albums such as Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.

Verdict: Gilmour became the definitive face of Pink Floyd for many fans across the world.

Brian Johnson and AC/DC



‘Whaaa?’ We hear you cry.

Yep, before Brian Johnson sent AC/DC into rock greatness with his gravel-voiced vocals, there was another. Months after releasing their breakthrough album Highway To Hell, Australian frontman Bon Scott tragically died following excessive alcohol consumption. The group were heartbroken and considered disbanding, but Scott’s parents encouraged them to continue and Johnson was brought on board as a replacement.

Verdict: Played until it nearly sent him deaf – so a pretty good run.

Gary Cherone and Van Halen

By the late ’90s, the strutting cock rock of Van Halen was looking as prehistoric as a day out at Jurassic Park. Following the second departure of the all-action David Lee Roth, the band enlisted Extreme front man Gary Cherone to take on the vocal duties over Eddie Van Halen’s shredding guitar solos.

The line-up released Van Halen III in 1998 but received a critical panning – and the band called it a day not long after. Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2012, Cherone was quite philosophical about the whole thing:

“Things started to get a little dysfunctional. I think that some in the camp sensed my frustration. I knew the end was near. Looking back, I don’t feel any regret.”

Verdict: No amount of technically impressive guitar solos could save this one.

Ray Manzarek and The Doors

Ray Manzarek The Doors

A mere three months after the death of Jim Morrison, The Doors released Other Voices – an album which saw songwriter and keyboard extroadinaire Ray Manzarek taking on the vocal duties. ‘Riders on the Storm’ was literally still in the charts.

While it would be cynical to say the band were looking to cash in on the success of the album L.A. Woman and even the attention created around Jim’s untimely death –Other Voices felt like taking The Doors’ sounds and removing the most vital component.

Verdict: You can’t replace the Lizard King. Unless you’re Val Kilmer.

Robbie Williams and Queen

Let’s all take a moment to think about how close this was to happening. After teaming up for a cover of ‘We Are The Champions’ for the soundtrack to 2001’s A Knight’s Tale, there did come a point where Brian May was in advanced talks with Williams to bring him on as a full-time replacement for Freddie Mercury.

Queen have since taken on both Paul Rogers and Adam Lambert as their touring lead singer, while Robbie decided to build bridges with former band Take That.

Verdict: A bullet dodged by all involved.

Or you could just start your own band and have the most fun you probably ever could do! Sounds alright doesn’t it? Making music, the travelling, the lifestyle. I’m up for it. Our Music courses can make it happen. Click here to see more about our Music courses.


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