This past Saturday, while eating dinner on a beach in Puerto Vallarta and slamming tropical drinks like we had new livers and low blood-sugar concerns, someone at our table began (or perhaps continued) an interesting rock and roll discussion. Obviously many rock stars have been in multiple bands. However, of those, who has been in the most successful bands during their tenure in each band? That is, what are the most successful bands with overlapping members?
Here are the rules:
1. This list looks only at the time period the member was in each band, and there must be some legitimate success and new musical output during the time the overlapping member was in each band. This is the most important rule. Thus, even though Dave Navarro (who was in Jane's Addiction) was in Red Hot Chili Peppers for a short time, you wouldn't look at the full body of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction when judging whether to include those two bands, just as you can't put Queen/Bad Company/Free on the list simply because Paul Rodgers joined Queen in recent years. And this rule would exclude bands like London, which was essentially a feeder band that had a ton of musicians who eventually became famous and successful in other bands, but which was not itself a very successful band.
2. Solo careers don't count. That's an entirely different discussion that can be had a later date on a different beach. Along those lines, members of a solo act's backing band don't count. Thus, just as I wouldn't include Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne on the list with Ozzy Osbourne as an overlapping member, I wouldn't include Quiet Riot/Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhoads as an overlapping member because Ozzy Osbourne isn't a "band."
3. Also, members actually have to be in the band and can't just have either played on albums or been session musicians. Thus, even though The Band backed up Bob Dylan and Booker T. & The MGs backed up a ton of Stax/Volt artists, those don't count. Similarly, the fact that Eric Clapton played on The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" or that Huey Lewis played harmonica on a couple Thin Lizzy songs doesn't mean they were members of those bands.
4. Supergroups do count. There was some discussion about whether supergroups should be included, and I think they should, since supergroups are, in fact, bands. Regardless, supergroups are rarely as successful as the members' original bands, so in many cases, it won't really matter. Bad English comes to mind.
5. One-off bands count, but collaborations don't. It is unbelievably rare that a band only puts out one album that is uber successful and then breaks up (Sex Pistols, I'm looking your way), much less that a member of that band was also a member of another successful band, so I will include one-off bands, to the extent there are any. That said, they actually have to be separate bands. Thus, while "Bob Dylan and The Band" is the artist listed on The Basement Tapes album, I don't consider that to be a band, but rather a collaboration between Bob Dylan and The Band. Same thing goes for Temple of the Dog, which was a collaboration between Soundgarden and the remaining members of Mother Love Bone (and some new dudes named Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready) that made a tribute album to honor deceased Mother Love Bone lead singer Andy Wood.
6. Bands that changed their name don't count as two different bands. I don't know how many of these there would be anyway, but if a band is successful, then changes its name while maintaining essentially the same lineup, that doesn't count (even if the band's membership has some changes). Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship, Joy Division/New Order, and The Young Rascals/The Rascals come to mind as bands that fit into this category.
With that, here are my top ten, along with the groups I considered, but rejected. I basically wrote down everything I could think of, which is why there were so many "considered."
Considered, but rejected:
Buffalo Springfield/Crosby Still Nash & Young (Stephen Stills and Neil Young); James Gang/The Eagles (Joe Walsh); Free/Bad Company (Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke); Ides of March/Survivor (Jim Peterik); Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver (Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum); Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver (Scott Weiland); Soundgarden/Audioslave (Chris Cornell); Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave (Tom Morello, Brad Commerford, and Brad Wilk); Red Hot Chili Peppers/Pearl Jam (Jack Irons); The Cult/Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver (Matt Sorum); White Stripes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather (Jack White); Greenhornes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather (Jack Lawrence); Queens of the Stone Age/Dead Weather (Dean Fertita); The Kills/Dead Weather (Alison Mosshart); Greenhornes/Raconteurs (Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler); The Beatles/Traveling Wilburys (George Harrison); ELO/Traveling Wilburys (Jeff Lynne); Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers/Traveling Wilburys (Tom Petty); Dio/Whitesnake/Def Leppard (Vivian Campbell); Quiet Riot/Whitesnake (Rudy Sarzo); Deep Purple/Whitesnake (David Coverdale); Runaways/Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (Joan Jett); Soundgarden/Pearl Jam (Matt Cameron); UFO/Fastway (Pete Way); Motorhead/Fastway (Eddie Clarke); Humble Pie/Fastway (Jerry Shirley); Fastway/Flogging Molly (Dave King); Extreme/Van Halen (Gary Cherone); Exodus/Metallica (Kirk Hammett); Metallica/Megadeth (Dave Mustaine); Flotsam & Jetsam/Metallica (Jason Newsted); Suicidal Tendencies/Metallica (Robert Trujillo); Styx/Damn Yankees (Tommy Shaw); Montrose/Van Halen/Chickenfoot (Sammy Hagar); Night Ranger/Damn Yankees (Jack Blades); Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention/Journey/Jefferson Starship/Whitesnake (Aynsley Dunbar); The Tubes/Journey (Prairie Prince); Joey Dee and The Starliters/Young Rascals (Eddie Brigati, Felix Cavaliere, and Gene Cornish); Depeche Mode/Erasure (Vince Clarke); Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club (Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth); Broken Bells/The Shins (James Mercer); Broken Bells/Gnarls Barkley (Danger Mouse); Fratellis/Codeine Velvet Club (Jon Lawler); Arctic Monkeys/Last Shadow Puppets (Alex Turner); Art Brut/Everybody Was in the French Resistance . . . Now! (Eddie Argos); Yardbirds/Led Zeppelin/Them Crooked Vultures (John Paul Jones); Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures (Josh Homme); Red Hot Chili Peppers/Chickenfoot (Chad Smith); Jane's Addiction/Red Hot Chili Peppers (Dave Navarro); Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros (Perry Ferrell); Smashing Pumpkins/Zwan (Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain); Blur/Gorillaz (Damon Albarn); Genesis/Mike and the Mechanics (Mike Rutherford); Samson/Iron Maiden (Bruce Dickinson); Yes/Asia (Geoff Downes and Steve Howe); Emerson Lake & Palmer/Asia (Carl Palmer); King Crimson/Uriah Heep/Roxy Music/Asia (John Wetton); Small Faces/Humble Pie (Steve Marriott); Hawkwind/Motorhead (Lemmy Kilmister); Moody Blues/Wings (Denny Laine); Yardbirds/Led Zeppelin/The Firm (Jimmy Page); Black Sabbath/Dio (Vinny Appice); Vanilla Fudge/Cactus (Carmine Appice); Duran Duran/Power Station (Andy Taylor and John Taylor); Free/Bad Company/The Firm (Paul Rodgers); Uriah Heep/Manfred Mann's Earth Band/The Firm (Chris Slade); Mott the Hoople/Bad Company (Mick Ralphs); Deep Purple/Black Sabbath (Ian Gillan); Thin Lizzy/Tygers of Pan Tang/Whitesnake (John Sykes)
10. Rainbow/Black Sabbath/Dio
Ronnie James Dio: Rainbow 1975-1979; Black Sabbath 1979-1982, 1991-1992; Dio 1982-1991, 1993-2010
Dio was heavy metal's ambassador, in part because he popularized the devil horns, but mostly because he was a part of several great (and successful) hard rock and heavy metal bands. With Rainbow, he was part of the band's hardest rocking era. He then replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer of Black Sabbath and put out several good (and successful) albums, ressurecting a band that had been in kind of a holding pattern for several years prior to his arrival. Then, he formed his own band, Dio, which had a string of Top 40 hits in the early to mid '80s -- a time when straightforward hard rock wasn't getting a ton of airplay.
9. Deep Purple/Rainbow
Ritchie Blackmore: Deep Purple 1968-1975, 1984-1993; Rainbow 1975-1984, 1994-1997
As part of two of the most influential hard rock bands of all time, Blackmore was the only consistent part of all of Deep Purple's successes and all of Rainbow's successes. Deep Purple was one of the original heavy metal bands, with over 100 million albums sold worldwide, 6 Top 20 albums in the US, and 12 Top 20 albums in the UK (including 3 #1 albums). Rainbow went through a lot of lineup changes, but the band's albums always cracked the Top 100 in the US and the Top 15 in the UK, and just about every song they put out between 1978 and 1983 made the Top 40 in the UK.
8. Jeff Beck Group/Faces/The Rolling Stones
Ronnie Wood: Jeff Beck Group 1968-1970; Faces 1970-1975; The Rolling Stones 1975-present
He would be higher on the list if he had joined the Stones before 1975. Faces is a very underrated band (with 5 UK Top 40 albums and 3 US Top 40 albums), as is Jeff Beck Group, both of which, of course, featured Rod Stewart on vocals. The Rolling Stones, on the other hand, are not underrated because they are, in fact, awesome.
7. Spencer Davis Group/Traffic/Blind Faith
Steve Winwood: Spencer Davis Group 1963-1967; Traffic 1967-1969, 1970-1974; Blind Faith 1969
Winwood joined the Spencer Davis Group when he was only 14, and that soulful voice you hear on 1966's "Gimme Some Lovin'" is only 18 years old. He then left to form Traffic, which, aside from his one-off album with supergroup Blind Faith, he was in until 1974. Traffic was more successful in the UK than in the US, but still had a number of top 10 albums on both sides of the pond.
6. The Hollies/Crosby Stills & Nash (& Young)
Graham Nash: The Hollies 1963-1968; Crosby Stills & Nash (& Young) off and on from 1969 to the present
The Hollies were a solid part of the British Invasion, and Nash was the lead singer on many of their massive hits. He then joined CSN/CSNY, and had even more success.
5. The Byrds/Crosby Stills & Nash (& Young)
David Crosby: The Byrds 1964-1967, 1972-1973, 1988-1991; Crosby Stills & Nash (& Young) off and on from 1969 to the present
Crosby was part of one of the most successful American rock bands before teaming up with Still and Nash (and sometimes Young). He was also part of all of CSN/CSNY's successes. I also thought about including Stephen Stills and Neil Young on the list for their membership in Buffalo Springfield, but I didn't for a couple reasons. First, Buffalo Springfield was a great band, but not as big as The Byrds or The Hollies, in my opinion. Second, as far as Neil Young, he was in and out of CSN/CSNY, and he wasn't a part of several of their big hits. It's a tangled web I'm weaving here.
Gregg Rolie: Santana 1969-1972; Journey 1973-1981
Neal Schon: Santana 1971-1972; Journey 1973-present
Gregg Rolie is kind of the unsung (ironically) hero of early Santana, not only playing the keyboards, but also singing on many of the songs on the band's first four albums (which were all great albums), including their then-biggest hit "Black Magic Woman." Neal Schon was a guitar prodigy, who joined Santana when he was 15 and played on Santana's third and fourth albums. Rolie and Schon left Santana and formed Journey in 1973. Schon has been in the band since then. Rolie was a significant contributor until 1981, often providing lead vocals before Steve Perry joined the band in 1977 and providing co-lead or backing vocals afterwards.
3. Nirvana/Foo Fighters/Them Crooked Vultures
Dave Grohl: Nirvana 1991-1994; Foo Fighters 1995-present; Them Crooked Vultures 2009-2010
As the drummer for Nirvana, Grohl ushered in grunge and a music world full of teenage angst and flannel, effectively killing hair metal (which wasn't particularly nice of him). And then, after Kurt Cobain died, Grohl formed the most successful hard rock band of the last 15 years. And then, he teamed up with John Paul Jones and Josh Homme for Them Crooked Vultures, a one-off supergroup that put out a decent album a couple years ago, and without which he would still be ranked #3 on this list.
2. The Yardbirds/John Mayall's Bluesbreakers/Cream/Blind Faith/Derek & The Dominos
Eric Clapton: The Yardbirds 1963-1965; John Mayall's Bluesbreakers 1965-1966; Cream 1966-1968; Blind Faith 1969; Derek & The Dominos 1970
Good Lord. This is a remarkable seven-year run. He was in the most successful Yardbirds lineup, performed on the only Bluesbreakers album that anyone owns, formed the greatest supergroup of all-time, formed another supergroup, fell in love with George Harrison's wife, and then made the greatest lovelorn album of all-time. And then, in 1971, he turned 26.
1. The Beatles/Wings
Paul McCartney: The Beatles 1959-1970; Wings 1971-1981
Once upon a time, Paul McCartney was in a band that, during a ten-year span, had 23 Top 40 songs, 14 Top 10 songs, 6 #1 songs, 9 Top 10 albums, and 5 #1 albums. Before that, he was in The Beatles.
Thoughts? Any others I forgot?