Lead singers tend to get all the attention…and cause most of the problems. Result: the band fires their lead singer, gets a new one, and goes in a new direction.
Rage Against the Machine sold eight million albums in the 1990s despite a very anti-commercial message: their songs frequently espoused socialist and Marxist ideology. The band had a falling out in 2001: singer Zach de La Rocha wanted to keep making its brand of music, while the rest of the band wanted to do a covers album. The two camps parted ways, but Rick Rubin, producer of that covers album, suggested the band hire Chris Cornell of the popular grunge band Soundgarden. The new band called itself Audioslave (which Spin called “one of the dumbest band names in recent rock history”). The music was not the call to arms of Rage Against the Machine, but straightforward rock music. Audioslave ultimately released five albums and scored 11 hit singles.
The British band Oasis is as famous for the constant fighting of members (and brothers) Liam and Noel Gallagher as it is for hits like “Wonderwall.” After numerous public fights, including one backstage at a concern in France in 2009, Noel Gallagher left Oasis for good. Oasis, still a popular group in Europe, announced plans to continue on without Noel (the band’s chief songwriter) as Beady Eye. While all of Oasis’s albums had hit #1 in England, Beady Eye topped out at #3, and couldn’t manage a hit single in the U.K. either.
After a few minor hits in the late 1970s, Adam and the Ants frontman Adam Ant hired manager Malcolm McLaren to do for his band what he had done for the punk band the Sex Pistols: make them famous by making them controversial. Ant, however, had overlooked why McLaren had initially formed the Sex Pistols: to promote his London clothing store SEX. McLaren took on the Adam and the Ants job at the same time he was launching a clothing line based on the punk-meets-pirates look of “New Romantic” bands (such as Adam and the Ants). McLaren then convinced everyone except Adam Ant to quit the band. Then McLaren used them as backing musicians for 15-year-old pop singer Annabella Lwin. The new band, Bow Wow Wow recorded a hit remake of the garage rock classic “I Want Candy.” Controversy was indeed generated, as the video featured Lwin in revealing clothing.