It’s been big news on social media over the past couple of weeks, that vocalist, guitarist and original member of Blink 182, Tom Delonge has left the band. I have to admit, my initial reaction was “if this was fifteen years ago I might have given a shit” as it’s been a long, long time since these guys were at their peak, and probably a full 13 years since anybody was truly interested in the material they were releasing at the time. But I’d also be lying if I didn’t add that I was, fifteen/twelve years ago, a big fan, and I have great memories of listening to albums like ‘Enema of the state’ and ‘The Mark, Tom & Travis show’. This also got me to thinking that although bands come and go, and members leave and join all the time, but sometimes there’ll be that one or two members that just ARE the band, and with their transitions and endeavours into other pursuits, they take the whole brand, sound and personality of the band along with them, and here’s a few of our most poignant examples of that:
Blink 182: Tom Delonge 1992-2015
So the inspiration for this article can be covered first, and I believe that this is one of the most based examples of this. Tom Delonge, along with Mark Hoppus, kicked off Blink 182 in 1992, so we’re talking well over twenty years ago, and was instrumental in that pop-punk pioneering sound, was one of the innovators of comedic American teenage rock n roll music and also has one of the most distinctive voices of all time which became a stamp that the band would forever wear. In 1998, drummer Scott Raynor left the band but this really didn’t make an incredible impact on things,and in fact opened the door for one of the planets most impressive drummers, Travis Barker, to take his place. But with Delonge leaving in 2015, the odds of Blink 182 ever sounding anything even similar to what they have done over the past twenty plus years. So where next? Would it even be worth continuing? I mean, they split up for around four years, only to reform with a rather lacklustre album in 2011’s ‘Neighbourhoods’ and a string of festival appearances. Should that be it now? How long can guys knocking on to their forties write songs about dicks, shit and teenage angst? Maybe it’s time. Hey, it’s not like they don’t all have a million side projects to go back to now is it?
Turbonegro: Hank Von Helvete 1993-2010
If you’re not familiar with Norway’s biggest ‘Death punk’ outfits, then you’re missing out. With a back catalogue spanning back to 1992, loaded with tongue in cheek lyrics and sex appeal and a look that you can’t ignore, Turbonegro have become one of Norway’s hottest rock n roll exports. Not the biggest name in the UK, sure, but I’ve been to Norway at a magazine stand and seen vocalist Hank Von Helvete on the majority of covers at any one time. With a line up of sixteen past and present members, it was Von Helvete’s departure in 2010 that had the most impact. The guy was the voice, the style and without a doubt, the dark ring leader of the band. It was incredible to think you could ever see so much sex appeal in a guy that looks basically like Alice Cooper had grown a beard and put on about five stone, but for some reason, he oozed cool, had a great voice, wrote brilliant lyrics whether sometimes a bit silly or sometimes pretty dark, he had an intensity that brought their music to life and to boot, he was backed by an amazing band. But after years of addiction and living through hell, he’d become sober and evolved into a family man, therefore finding that his new role in life, didn’t quite fit his position in Turbonegro, and he left to join a different band called Doctor midnight & the mercy cult. Turbonegro has replaced the lead vocal position with a guy called The Duke of nothing, who carries the ball well enough, but imagine my displeasure, finding out only a week before seeing them at Leeds festival 2012, and my excitement just disappearing when I found out that it’d been at least a year and a half since the reason I loved them so much had gone. Gutted.
The Rolling Stones: Brian Jones 1960-1969
I’m going to just assume you all know who the Rolling stones are, and of course, if you know who the Rolling stones are you’ll have heard of founding member, creator and the initial idea behind the band. This man could play the majority of instruments you’ve ever heard of, was a master of the blues, from his knowledge of it to his in-depth talent in playing the blues, he was truly an incredible musician and an original 60’s rock n roll genius. Unfortunately Jones was very much a pioneer and an advocate for the psychedelic, indulging heavily in drugs and eventually alienating himself from the band. He appeared to be a paranoid and reclusive person, and allegedly the trouble really began when Andrew Oldman took over as manager and saw more possibilities in the original material that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were bringing to the table, rather than the old blues standards that Jones was more focused on sticking to. This grew to become more of an issue with arrests for drug possession and an even more manipulative, difficult, paranoid and jealous Jones, alienating himself further, even losing his then girlfriend Anita Pallenberg to band mate Keith Richards while on holiday in Morocco as Jones was in hospital recovering at the time adding more and more tension to an already tense band line up. His efforts to contribute to the band as far as original music went was obscure, sporadic and rarely featured the guitar as he sought new sounds from much more exotic instruments, which sometimes paid off, but more often than not, didn’t. Brian Jones was a pioneer of rock n roll, will always be the architect of the Rolling stones but at the same time will always be the one that was asked to leave the band due to his issues with drugs and his own mental stability, and shortly he would be found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool. He was one of the first to enter the now infamous 27 club, as Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison would die at the young age within two years of Brian. The Rolling Stones however, are definitely one example of a band that continued, and grew to full potential. Now one of the biggest bands of all time and even now still a relevant name in music, the Rolling stones original three are some of the biggest names in music, and even the man who would end up in Jones’ position in the twilight years of the band, Ronnie Wood, is considered more of a ‘Rolling Stone original’ than the guy that kicked it all off.
CKY: Deron Miller/Chad Ginsburg/Jess Margera 1998-various
One of my favourite bands growing up was CKY and especially considering their affiliations with the stars of Jackass and also the Bam Margera directed CKY movies, but the music alone was brilliant and became a soundtrack to my youth with their unique, heavy, industrial sound and continued to be a favourite of mine right up until now. Evey time an album was released I’d make sure I didn’t miss my opportunity to check it out and add it to my collection. As mentioned before, they had associations with Bam Margera and this was of course because, original drummer, Jess Margera is his older brother. Using the same name for the prank/stunt based cult videos, a brand grew and embodied the two entities, exposing it all to teenagers all over the world. In addition to Jess Margera, the other two original members were long time friends, on the vocals and lead guitar, Deron Miller and on the bass and guitar, Chad Ginsburg. The best thing about this band was this bond and friendship between not only the members of the band but the aforementioned family and friends that surrounded them. So it came as one hell of a surprise when I began to hear of internal troubles around 2011, and one by one, members just seemed to leave and come back, and not be involved but still be an accredited member. It all got very confusing, and was a sure sign that the close bond these guys had; was now a lot more fragile than previously. It started with Deron Miller, who was the lead singer, founder and possibly the heart of CKY, left in late 2011 only to then return in 2013. Meanwhile Ginsburg and Margera attempt to continue on as normal, and even with a new vocalist but not really calling it all a work of CKY. It’s being said even now that Jess Margera, the other founding member and the connection in the band that makes the difference between being just another Pennsylvania rock band, but making them an iconic cult throwback to late 90’s pop culture, hasn’t had anything to do with the band since 2012, but remains in technical terms a member of the band. So we can talk about one key member leaving a band and the effect it has, but what about when there’s dissention between each and every member, and at one point or another they just about all leave. To be honest if any band in the world can survive and remain strong, despite having absolutely no musicians involved… it’d probably be CKY.
Queens of the Stone Age: Nick Oliveri 1998-2004
Now here’s an odd example, but also another eventuality or possibility if the dreaded happens and a key member of the band decides to leave. Nick Oliveri was a found ing contributor, and got Queens of the Stone Age off the ground in 1998 with Josh Homme. He was a co-writer, and worked heavily with Homme to create the first two, and possibly their two biggest albums. Also Oliveri’s look was infamous and was something you always identified with QOTSA. Looking like a modern-day GG Allin and barely wearing any clothes, he was not only the bass player, but as integral and as much of a front man as Homme. But almost in the peak of their success, in early 2004 he’d be fired from the band for his aggressive behaviour whether towards the fans or his band mates. He left with immediate effect, and QOTSA have continued to record albums and gain success ever since with Josh Homme continuing on as the bands ring leader. But the band has always felt different since Oliveri’s departure and sometimes it’d be more fitting to call them Josh Homme and the Queens of the stone age. Nick Oliveri gave them more of a collaborate feel, and despite his short tenure with them in the grand scheme of things, whenever I think of Queens of the Stone Age, I think of that bald head, long beard, and whatever he was hiding behind that bass guitar.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)