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Top 5 Classic Rockers Who Were Given the Boot

Whether it’s for “creative differences,” instability or just a whole lot of fighting, these Classic Rock bands decided to cut ties with influential members.  Inspired by the October birthdays of Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth, we’ve put together a list of the Top 5 Classic Rockers Who Have Been Given the Boot!

1.   Van Halen: Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth

For over 10 years, David Lee Roth enjoyed immense success as the frontman for Van Halen, perhaps the most electrifying rock band of the 1970s and ‘80s.  However, in 1985, he began to pursue a solo career in music and film, much to the disdain of guitarist Eddie Van Halen. That same year, Roth left the band, with the singer saying he quit but rumors stating otherwise.

Van Halen wasted no time finding a replacement for Roth, as they brought Sammy Hagar on board.  The band didn’t seem to miss a beat and released four consecutive No. 1 singles in a decade’s time with Hagar at the helm.  In 1996, tensions began to escalate between Eddie Van Halen and Hagar once word got out that Van Halen had begun recording new material behind Hagar’s back, the Red Rocker also left the band.

Over the past 15 years, Van Halen has continued to juggle lead singers.  Following a stint with singer Gary Cherone, a botched reunion with Roth at the MTV Music Awards and a failed Hagar-led tour, the band has finally settled back in with DLR at the mic, releasing A Different Kind of Truth in 2012.

2.   Black Sabbath: Ozzy Osbourne/Ronnie James Dio

Heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath, led by iconic frontman Ozzy Osbourne, took an unprecedented approach to music that landed them nine consecutive albums on the Billboard 200 from 1970–1978.  Due to Ozzy's heavy drug use, he was dismissed from the band in 1979, and subsequently started a solo career.

Black Sabbath quickly replaced Ozzy with Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio, who was with the band until 1983.  With the new lineup, Sabbath released back-to-back Top 30 albums before they eventually fell apart prior to the release of a concert album, Live Evil, before a short reunion with Dio on Dehumanizer in 1992. 

The original members of Black Sabbath got back together in 1997 for the release of Reunion and again in 2001 at Ozzy Osbourne’s concert festival, Ozzfest, but when the time came to create new music, they disbanded once again. By 2011, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi had reunited once again to tour and create new material, releasing their most recent album, 13, earlier this year.

3.   Pink Floyd: Syd Barrett/David Gilmour

In the late 1960s, the members of British rock band Pink Floyd had begun creating a very unique blues-influenced sound led by frontman Syd Barrett.  By 1967, the band had released their debut LP, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and quickly vaulted toward stardom.

Not long after this initial success, Barrett began behaving erraticly, and his unpredictability on stage wound up forcing the band to replace him as both a singer and songwriter.

A close friend of the band, David Gilmour, was brought in to be the lead guitarist as they searched for a new identity.  Pink Floyd eventually turned the corner, releasing 12 albums in the Billboard 200 between 1968 and 1980, resulting in increased commercial success in America and the U.K.

4.   Def Leppard: Pete Willis/Phil Collen

Back in the early '70s, guitarist Pete Willis started a band called Atomic Mass along with bassist Rick Savage. After meeting singer Joe Elliott, Willis asked him to audition for the band, which would become Def Leppard.

Later, drummer Rick Allen and guitarist Steve Clark joined the lineup, and after two studio albums, the band began recording Pyromania in 1982. During that time, Willis's alcohol abuse had become so bad, he was dismissed from the band, though he had only recorded the album's rhythm guitar parts.

Guitarist Phil Collen was brought in to replace Willis; he recorded the album's guitar solos and became a full-time member of the band. Save one reunion show in February 2003, Willis and Def Leppard have continued on separate paths, and the guitarist has since quit the music industry altogether.

5.   Styx: Dennis DeYoung/Lawrence Gowan

Styx singer/keyboardist Dennis DeYoung was not booted from the band once, but twice!

After having a key role in the band's success in the '70s by penning songs like "Lady," "Babe," and "Come Sail Away," DeYoung was given the heave-ho in 1979, due to tension among the members during the making Cornerstone. Styx was then unable to find a suitable replacement for DeYoung, and just a few month later, he returned to the group.

After some drama and a break-up in the '80s, the band eventually reunited in the '90s, releasing several albums including 1999's Brave New World. As Styx began planning a tour the following year in support of the album, DeYoung asked them to delay it, as he had contracted a viral illness. The band refused, and replaced him with Lawrence Gowan.

While DeYoung has since said he would be open to a reunion, guitarist Tommy Shaw told Rolling Stone in 2011 that it wasn't "realistic."