The music industry is a harsh place. Although it is easier now than ever to release music, just giving people the tools necessary won’t make it happen. Being in a band takes a lot of commitment – writing, practicing, putting up with band members you might not like that much, and getting gigs can be very time consuming, soul-crushing experiences that will probably cost you a fair bit, too.
Even then, someone has to actually like what you’ve done.
While the sting of rejection, the shift in style or projects with buddies never coming together might be commonplace for most struggling musicians, it happens to the rockstars, too – perhaps more often than you’d think. Plenty of supergroups, experimental albums, and ventures that for whatever reason can’t manifest have afflicted some of the biggest names in rock n’ roll.
Rockstars are people like you and me, too – they all puts their pants on one leg at time, all like their coffee a certain way, and all talk a lot of shit about that free jazz Bathory tribute band that they’re never going to get off the ground.
Some of these bands did have releases. Hell, some of them had careers that were just very different, and some of them are rumours. In whatever form they take, here’s my top pick of some of the greatest bands that never were.
Tipton, Powell and Entwistle
In a way, we did get this band…eventually. During his down-time from Judas Priest in the 90s, professional face-melter and all around badarse Glen Tipton decided to, just casually, work with two of the most renowned guys in rock n’ roll.
For those unaware, Cozy Powell was a drummer who played with a number of groups including Whitesnake, Black Sabbath and Rainbow. To say this guy had a good resume would be the understatement of the century.
John Entwistle, of course, needs no introduction – as bottom-end keeper for The Who, he demonstrated to a lot of rock n’ rollers that bass players were more than just beat-carriers, and could make up a large portion of the music.
The album, once completed, was shelved. To be fair, it did have a very old school sound that wasn’t trendy enough to be particular marketable, so Tipton put together the still awesome Baptizm of Fire with much younger musicians. The real tragedy doesn’t lie in how long it took for this record to be put out, but that both Powell and Entwistle passed away before this magnificent slab of metal saw the light of day.
Power Metal Pantera
Okay, this one is a bit of an odd addition to the list. Yeah, Pantera did release an album called Power Metal, and it wasn’t shelved or anything, nor did the line-up change at all between this record and the end of the band, but this is a different band to the guys who brought you Cowboys From Hell.
This was the first album Phil Anselmo sung on for the band, following their glam metal and AOR period with Terry Glaze. And ya know what? Those albums rocked, too – but Pantera grew passed that kind of music.
The record oozes speed metal indulgences. Dimebag’s groovy playing is certainly there, but sped up and with the kind of razor-sharp guitar tone you’d expect from a band like Agent Steel. Anselmo is at the top of his game, jumping back and forth between his haunting Louisiana drawl and the best Rob Halford impression ever.
Unfortunately, Pantera’s reinvention as a southern-rockin’, Sabbath-worshiping groove metal outfit (which wasn’t a bad thing in the slightest) saw Cowboys From Hell marked as their “first” record in the eyes of many. I’m honestly not sure what the guys think of this album – for my money, it is a fantastic record up there with their groove records. Hell, even Kerry King thought it was cool enough to jam on these tracks live!
Megadeth with Slash
Megadeth has had a number of axe-men in their fold, many with some pretty illustrious careers: Kerry King played guitar in the early days, Marty Freedman went on to become a Japanese megastar, and Chris Broderick’s time in Nevermore and Jag Panzer shouldn’t be forgotten.
While rumours float around that at one point Dimebag was going to join the band, Slash mentions in his biography that it was looking for awhile that he was going to step into the position.
Really, Slash was the “metal guy” in Guns N’ Roses – sure, his tastes were a lot more eclectic than that, but the man was a damn dirty, doomy headbanger at heart. In his book, Slash mentions sitting around with Dave Mustaine and writing really dark riffs and jamming together. However, his commitment with Guns N’ Roses meant one of the most orgasmic unholy unions never came about.
All we can do is watch this video and imagine…
…Wait, why the fuck isn’t this band on the list?
Jason Newsted’s projects
Those who know me know that, while I might not be the biggest Metallica fan around, I have a lot of admiration for Jason Newsted as a songwriter, player, and all around awesome dude. While Echobrain and Rockstar Supernova felt like supreme lapses of judgement, the comeback after some truly amazing set backs with Newsted, as well as his stint in Voivod has cemented the fact that Jason was, is and always will be a headbanging badarse.
The earliest signs of Newsted’s brilliance lies in the first Flotsam & Jetsam album, which is an absolutely ferocious thrashterpiece.
In addition, we have the lesser-known projects Newsted pursued during his time in Metallica. IR8 saw Newsted team up with Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad (and his mind-fucking solo projects) and Exodus’ Tom Hunting, taking on both bass and vocal duties for some amazingly groovy, knucle-dragging death metal.
IR8’s demo was later bundled on a split with Sexoturica, which also featured Newsted and Hunting – the band taking its name from the fact it had members from Sepultura, Exodus and Metallica. If that isn’t enough to peak your interest, I don’t know what to tell you.
Hopefully Newsted’s new eponymous project will be a hit (and it is looking that way), and get the word out about his incredibly under-rated legacy. I often wonder what Metallica’s mid-period would have sounded like if they let Newsted actually have some real input into the albums, but I digress…
Rob Halford & Ihsahn
I’m not silly – I realise that this is only the second music article on the site. Chances are, you came here to read about video games and for whatever reason checked out the music articles as well, so let me break this one down just in case: A Rob Halford/Ihsahn album is the metal equivalent of Half Life 3.
Emperor were probably one of the most interesting of the Norwegian Black Metal scene, putting out albums that were equal parts majesty and darkness, written (primarily) by Ihsahn. It is no surprise that his work since Emperor disbanded was also impeccable dives into the more experimental realms of metal.
Halford, on the other hand, is THE metal god. Judas Priest brought the attitude and spikes-and-leather imagery to metal, and Halford’s savage vocals still cut like a knife. Musically, Halford has had a few projects that don’t resonate too well, but for a career that spans back to the 60s, he hasn’t got too shabby a track record.
Halford mentioned knowing Ihsahn a few years back, and expressed that the two might be working on something together. To this day, no further information has really surfaced. While many pondered it would sound something like a King Diamond record, I think that is looking at it too short-sighted. Halford’s voice and taste in music is fairly diverse, as is Ihsahn’s. I’m sure whatever the two would have come up with would have transcended the speed and black metal genres the two are known for. And hey, there’s still hope this could happen someday, especially as Priest announced they won’t be doing any massive tours anymore.
This is the only one without a video to go with it. So here’s a really rad Ihsahn song. Until next time!
Don’t agree with my list? Someone I missed? Let us know in the comments!