JENNINGS: Bad band breakups aren't the end of the road

The Ulrich City Centre was full of Queensryche fans Aug. 14, 2014 as the band performed to a full house as headliners at the Molson Canal Concert series in Lockport. (File photo)

2020 will be forever remembered as the year without summer concerts in Western New York. Fans of live music have been spoiled for years with great summer concert lineups at places like Artpark, Canalside, Darien Lake, and in recent years at Batavia Downs.

In what is a hopeful sign for summer 2021, Batavia Downs announced their full slate of performers for their Friday night concert series. The lineup includes an interesting cross-section of bands and solo artists with fascinating histories.

Two of the bands, Skid Row, who appear on July 23 and Queensrÿche, who appear on Aug. 13, had high-profile splits with their lead singers.

Skid Row’s self-titled debut album in 1989 featured Sebastian Bach handling lead vocal duties. The album achieved 5-times Platinum status and made the group superstars. On their first national tours they opened for Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, which gained them even more exposure.

Bach’s tenure in the band was filled with controversy. At one show in 1989, Bach had a bottle thrown at his head and he retaliated by throwing the bottle back into the crowd, breaking the nose of an innocent female bystander. Bach jumped into the crowd and created a huge melee and was eventually arrested and sentenced to three years of probation.

In 1996 Bach and Skid Row parted ways. Initially it was reported that Bach left over a disagreement with the band about Bach wanting Skid Row to open for Kiss, with the rest of the band members stating they were too big to be an opening act. Bach later stated he was fired from the band, and he didn’t quit. Skid Row continued on with a new lead singer and went on to open for Kiss four years later.

Skid Row’s current lead singer is ZP Theart, a South African and former lead singer of the band DragonForce.

Queensrÿche’s split with original lead singer Geoff Tate in 2012 is one of the ugliest splits in music history. Like a nasty divorce, there are two perspectives to the split. Tate chalked it up to jealousy, and the remaining members of the band said that Tate had too much control and didn’t like the direction of the band under Tate’s control.

Before a show in Brazil, the band told Tate that they had held a meeting and fired the band’s manager, office assistant and a guitar tech. All of them happened to be related to Tate, the band’s manager was his wife.

Unsurprisingly, the bad blood led to a fistfight between the parties before the concert. Over the next two years both parties fought it out in the press and in the courts, with Queensrÿche continuing on with Todd La Torre, and Tate singing Queensrÿche songs with his own bands.

Of course, many classic rock bands have survived splits with prominent lead singers. One of the other performers in Batavia this summer is Steve Augeri who is returning to Batavia this year on June 25 after a great performance in 2019.

Augeri had the unenviable task of replacing Journey lead singer Steve Perry in 1998. Augeri did a great job, and even recorded three albums of new material with Journey during his tenure which lasted until 2006, when Augeri left because of chronic throat problems related to Journey’s relentless touring schedule. Thankfully, Augeri’s voice fully recovered, and he continues to perform all the Journey classics in concert.

Most fans don’t get caught up in the inevitable conflicts that occur in bands, they just want to go out and hear their favorite songs and be entertained. And no matter who the lead singer is, fans will certainly be happy to hear some great live music again this summer.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.

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