Should bands tour without key members?

THE BAND IS NOT THE SAME | Amanda Blackman

Plenty of young adults have grown up listening to the music beloved by their parents. While listening to classic songs, a beautiful type of nostalgia is felt. When hearing that some of these seminal bands like The Who, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers , or The Beach Boys are touring, the thought of seeing such influential bands live has a definite appeal. However, considering that all of these bands are touring without an integral member after they have passed away, the band is not the same as they were when they recorded their beloved hits.

One band that has continued touring after the death of Keith Moon and John Entwistle is The Who. Many of the pioneering members that long-time fans are familiar with are not in the touring lineup. Despite two out of the four original members being alive and well, only the vocalist Roger Daltrey remains on tour. Completely new members means a completely new band that only learns to imitate the songs that fans have fallen in love with.

In fact, it seems to be quite rare for bands to discontinue touring after a member dies, especially if their death occurs shortly before the tour is scheduled to begin. Tom Petty, who passed away just a few short weeks ago, was just finishing a tour. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers will still play their last two concerts in November even though their namesake member has passed away.

Band members, just like everyone else, will one day pass away. Instead of continuing to try to make as much money as possible by continuing their tours, bands should celebrate the life of their former members by honoring the importance of their positions in the band.

Whether lead singer or drummer, each individual band member brings their own specialty to the group. The new members may be taught to play the same chords or sing the same words, but ultimately there will be differences. The band is no longer what listeners were originally drawn to; they are a new and different band altogether.


Death comes for everyone. Unfortunately, even the best musicians aren’t exempt from that inevitable fact of life. However, the day a band member dies is not the day their music does.

People enjoy and relate to music because of how it makes them feel. Everybody knows that feeling when their favorite song comes on, when the first notes ring out of the speakers. Goosebumps riddle their arms and before they’re even aware of it happening, they’re lost in the music for a whole three and a half minutes. Losing a band member doesn’t change that feeling.

Take The Who, a world-renowned band who lost their drummer, Keith Moon. Moon is known as one of the greatest drummers of all time. The loss may have stunted the band, but they’re still on tour to this day. They even closed the night at one of the nation’s most popular outdoor concert festivals: Outside Lands. Of course, the new drummer wasn’t as talented as Moon the Loon, but that didn’t stop the members of the crowd from screaming “Baba O’Riley” at the top of their lungs.

Although Moon is a drummer, the same can be said for a lead vocalist. Yes, the voice is often the most distinct part of the music, but each member plays a key role. Singular members aren’t more valuable than the others; one is just more prominent. It’s the lyrics that give fans the emotional surge. The vocalist changes the way the words sound, but the words and expression remain the same.

There’s something respectable about bands touring after the loss of a member. Losing a musician is tragic because of the gift they gave to their fans is gone. They can’t write new songs, they can’t create new melodies, but to stop touring or to stop attending their concerts does that musician a disservice. They made music because they loved it, because they wanted to share it. The original sound is there, the artist is still in the music. Just listen a little more closely.

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