The Hit Songs Deconstructed Wire

Penn's Picks: Frontmen & Their Successors: Vol. 1 – Metal



In all genres, but especially Hard Rock and Metal, the frontman plays a pivotal role in defining a band’s image and sound.

Vocalists such as David Lee Roth, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Dianno, Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillan were all such frontmen, each playing an integral role in the early success of their respective band. These singers were endeared by their audiences; the mere notion of one of these bands continuing without their principle figurehead seemed almost incomprehensible.

But that’s exactly what happened.  Each of these vocalists left at the height of their careers. (The sole exception was Osbourne, who departed in the midst of a downward spiral with Sabbath.)  The remaining band members knew the resulting voids would not be easily filled. Their sound would change, their appearance would change, and no one knew whether their fanbase would remain intact. Luckily, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Rainbow and Van Halen all made the right choice in successors.  The sound and image of these bands might have changed in the process, but their creative output and overall success was equaled and, in some cases, even surpassed.

The following are key tracks from the debut albums of both thefrontmen and their successors.

BLACK SABBATH:  Osbourne vs. Dio

  • Osbourne:  Black Sabbath (1970, Black Sabbath)
  • Dio:  Heaven And Hell (1980, Heaven And Hell)

DEEP PURPLE:  Gillan (Mk. II) vs. Coverdale (Mk. III)

  • Gillan:  Hard Lovin’ Man (1970, Deep Purple In Rock)
  • Coverdale:  Stormbringer (1974, Stormbringer)

IRON MAIDEN:  Dianno vs. Dickinson

  • Dianno:  Iron Maiden (1980, Iron Maiden)
  • Dickinson:  The Number Of The Beast (1982, The Number Of The Beast)

RAINBOW:  Dio vs. Bonnett

  • Dio:  Man On The Silver Mountain (1975, Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow)
  • Bonnett:  All Night Long (1979, Down To Earth)

VAN HALEN:  Roth vs. Hagar

  • Roth:  Atomic Punk (1977, Van Halen 1)
  • Hagar:  Get Up (1986, 5150)