Heavy music has a long history of replacement singers stepping in and stepping up, often eclipsing the legacy of their predecessors — from Ronnie James Dio in Sabbath, to Henry Rollins in Black Flag, to Mike Patton in Faith No More and beyond. With Cardinal Copia taking his place as the "new leader" of theatrical occult-metal mystics Ghost, we asked you, our fans and followers, to pick the single greatest replacement singer, and you sounded off across social media with strong opinions. Below, are the ranked Top 5 vote-getters.
For most fans, Pantera's first album is Cowboys From Hell, when in fact the Texan firebrands had released not only a prior album with singer Phil Anselmo (1988's Power Metal), but also — count 'em — three records before that, with a guy named Terry Glaze behind the mic. A glammy belter in the style of Van Halen's David Lee Roth, Glaze parted ways with Dimebag (then going as Diamond Darrell), Vinnie and Rex in 1986. Enter Anselmo, a NOLA native who would revolutionize heavy metal with his raw hardcore- and extreme-metal-inflected attack and take Pantera to a new level of confidence and power.
How do you replace a bona fide legend like Ozzy Osbourne? In the case of Black Sabbath, you recruit another fucking legend: Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio. When Dio joined the Sabbath crew in 1979, his powerful, versatile vocal style ushered the band's classic sound into a new and exciting era. His contributions to Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules helped make those records become not just standout moments of the early Eighties metal scene, but also within Sabbath's own towering catalog.
Mike Patton was just a college student when Faith No More approached him in 1988 replace original singer Chuck Mosley, intrigued by the demos the musician had released with his freak-metal band Mr. Bungle. His razor-throated raps and otherworldly range took the budding group's carnival-esque fury to ferocious new heights — and ushered in their widespread commercial success — with 1989's breakthrough LP The Real Thing. Ultimately, Patton's greatest contribution to Faith No More wasn't his technique, but rather his insatiable creative drive, which guaranteed that no two records sounded exactly the same — after all, there's nothing like a side project (or several) to keep the creative juices fresh.
In early 1980, AC/DC were riding high on the breakout popularity of the previous year's hard-rock juggernaut Highway to Hell, the Australian hard rock act's most commercially successful record to date. But then the unthinkable happened: lead singer Bon Scott died from asphyxiation after passing out from alcohol poisoning. That tragic event easily could have meant the end for one of the world's most exciting, energetic rock bands. But Malcolm and Angus Young weren't ready to give up yet, and started auditioning new frontmen until they found English singer Brian Johnson. Johnson hit the ground running on Back in Black — which to this day ranks as one of the best-selling hard rock albums of all time — and his explosive, unpretentious yowls continued to lead the band to international success for the next three decades.
Quite possibly the single greatest decision that Iron Maiden ever made happened after the Killers tour when Samson vocalist Bruce Dickinson stepped in to replace Paul Di'Anno. Dickinson's boundless energy, unmatched vocal range, hyperliterate storytelling and live-juggernaut style is to this day, the best in the realms of heavy metal, and possibly all of rock as we know it. Frankly, can you imagine anyone else being able to pull off the vocals on "Run to the Hills"?