9 Classic Rock Bands Whose Replacement Guitarists Didn’t Last

Rock Bands Whose Replacement Guitarists Didn't Last

Photo: Dina Regine / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Our 9 Classic Rock Bands Whose Replacement Guitarists Didn’t Last article continues our series on the middle child of so many classic rock bands. The ones that replaced the originals only to find themselves replaced for various reasons. In some instances, some of these great guitarists quit the band for various reasons. In other circumstances, these great guitar players were fired. Looking back at the history of classic rock, historians find that most bands went through multiple lineup changes during the course of their careers. Some lineup changes were more significant than others. This list defines 9 replacement guitarists who were replaced that had a significant impact on these legendary bands. There are so many more, but we think these are some of the most interesting.

# 9 – Eric Cartwright – Foghat

Eric Cartwright replaced the very popular Rod Price in Foghat in 1981. Foghat was one of the most popular rock bands of the 1970s with their blues infused boogie rock sound. Foghat broke up in 1983 and Eric Cartwright formed a new Foghat with Roger Earl and Craig MacGregor. However in 1993, the original Foghat reformed and Eric Cartwright was replaced by Rod Price who he originally replaced. Listen to how different these guys sounded in 1981 compared to the 70s years.

# 8 – Steve Morse – Kansas

This was big news for many rock fans back in 1985. Kansas was one of the most popular progressive rock bands of the 1970s. The Dixie Dregs were also extremely popular and had a massive cult following. Kerry Livgren was the lead guitarist of Kansas. His playing and writing were a dominating force in the band. However, in 1985 Kerry Livgren was replaced by Steve Morse who was the legendary lead guitarist of the Dixie Dregs and known as one of the best guitarists in the business.

It didn’t seem like a good fit, but Steve Morse had a good run with Kansas and did some great stuff with the band recording two records with Kansas. However, in 1989 Steve Morse left the band to focus on his solo career. He was then replaced by Kerry Livgren who Morse had originally replaced.

# 7 – Dave Navarro – Red Hot Chile Peppers

Dave Navarro joined the band the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1993. Navarro replaced guitarist Arik Marshall who was hired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers when guitarist John Frusciante quit the band. Dave Navarro would celebrate some legendary moments with the band like performing at Woodstock 94 and recording the great Red Hot Chili Peppers album One Hot Minute. However, Dave Navarro would be fired from the band after one album and be replaced by John Frusciante. Lots of drug issues everywhere with this band.

# 6 – Vinnie Vincent – Kiss

Vinnie Vincent replaced the very popular Ace Frehley of Kiss in 1982. Kiss had a legion of incredibly loyal fans called the Kiss Army and so this was huge news in 1982. Vinnie Vincent would only last a couple of years with the band in which he played on the Creatures of The Night album and performed with the band from 1982 to 1984. Supposedly, contractual issues caused Vinnie Vincent to quit the group in 1984. Vincent was replaced by Mark St. John.

# 5 – Guitarist Du Jour – Ozzy Osbourne Band

After Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath, he formed his own solo band in 1979 often referred to as The Blizzard of Oz. The original lead guitarist in the band was the very talented Randy Rhoads. Tragically, Randy Rhoads died in a plane crash in 1982. The Ozzy Osbourne guitarist du jour world would begin immediately with the hiring of Bernie Torme to replace Randy Rhoads. Torme did not work out well and was quickly replaced by Brad Gillis who had been the guitarist in Night Ranger.

Brad Gillis recorded one album with Ozzy Osbourne and then was replaced in the band by Jake E. Lee in 1982. Lee would spend five great years with Ozzy Osbourne. Eventually, Ozzy Osbourne would finally find his permanent guitarist when he hired Zakk Wylde to replace Jake E. Lee.

# 4 – Jimmy Crespo – Aerosmith

This is a big one. In 1979, Joe Perry left Aerosmith. One of the most successful bands of the 1970s and a group many believe is the greatest American rock and roll band of all time. That’s no easy open slot to fill. Aerosmith hired guitarist Jimmy Crespo to replace Joe Perry. Crespo did a great job, but the problem was everything else was falling apart around the band. Crespo spent almost five years with the band while they sadly were forced to perform in clubs. He recorded one album with the group entitled Rock in a Hard Place. Nonetheless, Jimmy Crespo would earn his “replacement guitarists who were replaced,” status when he was replaced by the return of Joe Perry in 1984.

# 3 – Tommy Bolin – James Gang / Deep Purple

Tommy Bolin served as the replacement guitarist in two big time classic rock bands. In 1973, Tommy Bolin replaced Domenic Troiano who was the guitarist in the James Gang who had replaced Joe Walsh. After two years with The James Gang, Tommy Bolin was replaced by Richard Shack in 1975

In another classic rock band story, Tommy Bolin replaced Ritchie Blackmore in 1976 in Deep Purple. Many issues occurred during his short tenure with Deep Purple. The group broke up in 1976 and Bolin moved on to his solo projects. Bolin died in December of that year.

# 2 – Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck – The Yardbirds

These are two pretty big names in rock and roll and I have to cringe when including them in an article titled Our 9 Classic Rock Bands Whose Replacement Guitarists Didn’t Last. However the truth is while the two legendary musicians left the Yardbirds to celebrate what would become incredibly legendary careers including what they did with the Yardbirds, the two men had replaced guitarists and then were replaced by other guitarists when they left the group. Eric Clapton had replaced Anthony “Top” Topham in 1963. Eric Clapton was then replaced by Jeff Beck in 1965. Jeff Beck was then replaced by Jimmy Page in 1966.

# 1 – Mick Taylor – The Rolling Stones

There are a lot of big time Rolling Stones fans that love the Mick Taylor days. You really can’t be a Rolling Stones fan and not love what Mick Taylor did with the Rolling Stones. Some of The Rolling Stones finest moments occurred during Mick Taylor’s tenure in the band. Nonetheless, Mick Taylor was a guitarist who was not an original member of a band and had replaced a guitar player and then was replaced himself.

Mick Taylor joined the Rolling Stones in 1969. He was only twenty years old at the time. Mick Taylor replaced the Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones who was removed form the Rolling Stones in June of 1969 and died the next month in July of 1969. Mick Taylor’s tenure with the The Rolling Stones would last from 1969 to 1974. Mick Taylor quit the Rolling Stones in 1974. He was replaced by ex-Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood,



  1. Avatar Bob T June 11, 2020
  2. Avatar Patrick Callahan March 30, 2023

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