Five Musicians Booted Before the Band Blew Up

Number Five: Chad Channing. Chad Channing of Nirvana was originally a drummer for the grunge rock pioneers and managed to record on their 1989 album Bleach (which he subsequently earned a bundle from). But he wanted to be more involved in the songwriting process. “Eventually I realised that wasn’t going to happen and so in my mind I was thinking, ‘Well what am I going to do here?’” Channing recalled to “The reality is I didn’t really give them much of a choice but to kick me out of the band. It was a situation that I should have quit out of before I was kicked out of.” He goes on to say that it was primarily a musical issue, not a personal issue within the band that prompted his departure, insisting that they are still friends even to this day. Sadly, Channing was not inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year with the rest of Nirvana, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Kurt Cobain.

Number Four: Tracii Guns. Tracii Guns of Guns N’ Roses founded the band with Axl Rose, merging their two last names and their two groups, L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose. Rose was the lead singer, with Guns leading on guitar. After missing one too many rehearsals, Guns got the axe and was replaced by iconic guitarist Slash. In his autobiography, Slash talks about how Axl seemed to have a similar problem with showing up to gigs and rehearsals on time, and how he ruled the band with a fist of iron. However, once Slash joined, and their antics generated their moniker of “Most Dangerous Band in the World,” he remarked that “For some strange reason, Guns N’ Roses is like the catalyst for controversy, even before we had any kind of record deal.” After being scouted by several major record labels, Geffen Records was the label they ended up signing with in March 1986. Later that year, they began recording their debut album, which sold over 28 million copies worldwide (18 million of those sold in the U.S., making it the best selling debut album in the U.S. of all time)!

Number Three: Dave Evans. Dave Evans of AC/DC was apparently too glamorous for his bandmates and too popular with the ladies, so Malcolm Young gave him the boot and replaced him with Bon Scott. In a 2013 interview, Evans elaborated, explaining that when their single “Can I Sit Next to You Girl?” was released AC/DC was already on their third bass player, their third drummer, and their third manager, and Evans didn’t get along with them.  They were from a different town, they were strangers and the group was morphing into something he didn’t like. He and Malcolm apparently had a falling out because at “Those times, Malcolm Young was getting very jealous all the time because I just happened to be popular with the girls and Malcolm didn’t have a girlfriend. So he was very jealous.” Meanwhile, their manager was sort of failing at his job. Although they were playing tons of shows, “We were absolutely flat broke.” Within a month of replacing him with Scott, AC/DC had recorded the album High Voltage within ten days.

Number Two: Jack Irons. Jack Irons of Red Hot Chili Peppers cofounded the experimental rock group with Flea, Kiedis, and Slovak in 1983. It underwent several name changes, but was considered a side project to their earlier group, called What Is This? Both bands got record deals, so Slovak and Irons went with the original band, What Is This? After recording a self-titled album, Slovak got fed up with the band and went back to RHCP. Irons returned to drum for Red Hot Chili Peppers once he was out of work. But when Hillel Slovak, his childhood friend as well as his bandmate, died of a heroin overdose on June 25th, 1988, Irons stated that “he did not want to be part of a group where his friends were dying.” The shock of Slovak’s death was so detrimental that he has been suffering from depression since.  The year after he left RHCP, they signed with Warner Bros. and recorded their huge hit “Give It Away.” It won a Grammy Award in 1992 for “Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal” and became the band’s first number one single on the Modern Rock chart.

Number One: Pete Best. Pete Best of The Beatles drummed as one of the Fab Four in their early days of Hamburg, but after their first Parlophone Recording session at EMI studios (now Abbey Road Studios), producer George Martin wanted to use a session drummer to ensure the backbeat was strong and sure. It has been reported in various documentaries and biographies that when the band was in Hamburg, Best often went off on his own, as the other three constantly wrote songs together and shared inside jokes. And while Best got along well with John Lennon (and really, who didn’t?), George Harrison was unhappy with Best’s drumming abilities, and Paul McCartney felt that the band’s contract was on the line. The three gave their manager Brian Epstein orders to let him go. All Best was told about why he was being fired was, “The lads don’t want you in the group anymore.” Ringo Starr eventually replaced him, having occasionally sat in for Best during the Hamburg days. Fans were quite upset for a while afterwards, jeering, heckling and even occasionally headbutting the band. Their subsequent success however, is justification enough for their decision at the time.