You know I’m a fan of the band Third Day. They downsized in 2008 when guitarist Brad Avery left the group. With the loss of Brad they lost an edge. He was only one of their guitarists; not their lead singer.
Hawk Nelson did it. REO Speedwagon, Journey and The Newsboys all did it with great success. The Christian band Sanctus Real will probably let us know today. Each of them has changed lead singers.
In so many ways the frontman is the band. Quick think Maroon 5! You thought Adam Levine, right? Queen? Freddie Mercury. The Stones? You get it. Each of these lead singers imbued the band with their unique sound. Beyond the sound their worldview and personality saturates each melody the band plays.
The gestalt is the musical group. How that comes together is driven by the lead singer whom is usually also the lead songwriter. Listening to Jars of Clay; beauty and angst have their fulfillment in the voice of Dan Haseltine; but it’s the individual pieces that create the whole.
Finally it’s the sound. When I hear Peter Furler I know it’s The Newsboys (okay, okay he’s done solo stuff—but you know what I mean). When you hear U2, the guitar rhythm and Bono are unmistakable. It’s a whole package. Until you change it.
I’m glad Sanctus Real will keep performing and writing music. It just won’t be the same without Matt Hammitt. Perhaps they could call themselves Sanctus Real Part B (Sanctus Real the flip side?)