The ownership of band names is a tricky subject, which has filled the wallets of many lawyers thanks to the dozens of lawsuits filed over the years. As the groups of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s start to age, many acts have had to figure out who has the right to tour under the original name. This week’s B List looks at 11 groups with only one original member left in the band as of 2011.
There’s a variety of reasons why there’s only one member left in these bands. Some of the groups are a band in name only and are really a solo vehicle, some have lost members due to death and illness, while others splintered due to lawsuits and bad business decisions. Here’s our list…
11. Iron Maiden
Steve Harris – Bass
The leader of Iron Maiden started the band in 1975 as a 19-year-old in London. Over the past 35+ years, Maiden has gone through a number of lineup changes with Harris left as the only person who has been a member of Iron Maiden since the group’s inception. Guitarist Dave Murray, who remains with the band, joined Maiden just just two months after they formed.
READ ON for 10 more bands with only one original member left…
10. New Riders of the Purple Sage
David Nelson – Guitar
Nelson formed the New Riders in 1969 with John “Marmaduke” Dawson, Robert Hunter, Mickey Hart and some guy named Jerry Garcia. The group, after Bob Matthews and then Phil Lesh replaced Hunter on bass, would open many Grateful Dead shows in the early ’70s and went on to find commercial success with a new lineup featuring Buddy Cage and without Lesh, Hart and Garcia later in the decade. The New Riders were revived in 2005 with Nelson as the only original member.
Mick Jones – Guitar
British guitarist Mick Jones formed Foreigner in 1976 with multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and vocalist Lou Gramm. The band scored many big hits and sold more than 70 million albums worldwide. Gramm had an off-again/on-again relationship with Foreigner throughout the ’80, ’90s and ’00s, but he hasn’t performed with the band since 2002 leaving Jones as the only remaining original member.
Evan Dando – Guitar/Vocals
Evan Dando formed The Lemonheads with Ben Deily and Jesse Peretz in 1986 and that lineup stayed together to record three albums for the now-legendary Taang! label. Deily left the group in 1989 with Peretz’s departure following soon behind. Over the years, Dando changed the act’s roster numerous times. He remains on as The Lemonheads only original member still in the band.
7. The Temptations
Otis Williams – Vocals
Since The Temptations formed in 1960, first performing under the name The Elgins, the group has gone through many lineup changes with over 20 musicians able to consider themselves a member of The Temptations at some point over the past 50 years. The one constant has been baritone Otis Williams, who continues to tour as The Temptations with newer members in 2011.
6. Lynyrd Skynyrd
Gary Rossington – Guitar
Gary Rossington has seen either the death or departure of each original Lynyrd Skynyrd member since the band’s formation, leaving the guitarist as the only remaining original member left in the group. He has survived the tragic plane crash that killed vocalist Ronnie Van Zandt and Steve and Cassie Gaines as well as a number lineup changes throughout the years. Lynyrd Skynyrd still performs with a completely different set of musicians surrounding Rossington than the band that started in Jacksonville.
5. Beach Boys
Mike Love – Vocals
Vocalist Mike Love helped form the Beach Boys with his cousins, The Wilsons, and remains the only original member still touring under that name. In fact, he has “leased” the right to tour under that name. Bruce Johnston joined the Beach Boys in 1965 and tours with Mike Love in the current incarnation of the Beach Boys, but was not an original member of the group.
4. Little Feat
Bill Payne – Keyboardist
The original version of Little Feat was formed shortly after Lowell George and Roy Estrada’s departure from The Mothers of Invention and featured George, Billy Payne, Richie Hayward and Estrada. Estrada left the band in 1972, George died in 1979 and Hayward passed away last year, leaving Payne as the only remaining original member still in Little Feat.
Lemmy - Bass/Vocals
Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister formed pioneering heavy metal band Motörhead in 1975. The band went through many lineup changes throughout the ’70s and ’80s before Kilmister settled on the current lineup featuring guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee in 1992.
2. Smashing Pumpkins
Billy Corgan – Guitars/Vocals
Smashing Pumpkins broke up in 2000 after an extremely successful career. When the band got back together in 2006, vocalist/guitarist Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin were the only original members left. Chamberlin left Corgan’s employ in 2009, leaving Corgan to carry on the name.
1. Guns N Roses
Axl Rose – Vocals
In reading Slash’s autobiography, the former GN’R guitarist mentions how adamant vocalist Axl Rose was to take ownership of the band’s name over the years. Slash found out why after Rose sent all the members of the group packing and reformed the band with completely new members. Axl still tours under the Guns N’ Roses name without any of the other guys who helped create the legendary band.
So, who did we miss? Let us know what other bands only have one remaining original member left and are still touring by leaving a comment below…