Q #1,880: Which of the “Big Four” bands has the fewest founding members on its roster today?
Out of seventeen active members in all four “Big Four” bands today, Scott Ian of Anthrax is the lone original member in his band Anthrax. The two Dave’s (Mustaine and Ellefson) are the two originals in Megadeth, metal’s dynamic duo of Hetfield and Ulrich are still providing “YEAHS,” and questionable snares in Metallica, and Slayer’s Tom Araya and Kerry King are still reigning.
It’s hard to argue this group of bands’ continual impact on the always present state of affairs in the metal world, as they continue to headline tours and festivals around the globe, while continuing to release new material that managing to sell enough to keep the metal train moving along.
Seventeen current members of the “Big Four,” and seven of them are original members. We are all more than well aware of Dave Mustaine being in Metallica prior to Kirk Hammett, and this sort of leads me to a point I’ve seen wildly disputed all over the bowels of the Internet.
What degree of participation does one need to be considered a founding member of a band? Mustaine received writing credits on the first two Metallica records so, yes, he was more a part of the band than not, despite not appearing on the band’s debut record. But if you’re merely a body in the room at the point of inception, no more than a William Murderface attempting to snag credit to material being created around you, what is your true degree of involvement?
Anthrax’s Scott Ian being the sole founding member of Anthrax initially confused me, and if you’ve read any of my emails before, my metal six-degrees-of-separation is usually pretty on point. So after discovering an entire page dedicated to Anthrax members, I was pretty shocked to see that there was such a list beyond the 48 (not really 48) members I could already readily name in Anthrax.
There were four lead vocalists in Anthrax before Neil Turbin showed up on ‘Fistful of Metal?’ Three in the same year? Did these guys really help found a band, or shape the sound of what they would release to the world? I’m not saying that musicians can’t help found a band and help shape its sound, only to depart before an official release. But for me, there has to be some sort of qualifier for people to be given a greater amount of credit than merely “was in three rehearsals, had a pulse, drank some beers.”
A band like Anthrax WASN’T Anthrax until certain members added the fuel to take it to new places. I’m going to go ahead and say that drummer Charlie Benante was integral to the formation of the sound of Anthrax. When they went into the studio to record the debut, the songs weren’t even said to have sounded the same way from the last rehearsal to the first roll of tape.
The band in the studio shaped the band that everyone has come to know, not the list of guys that happened to be there beforehand. Sure the band existed before ‘Fistful of Metal’ was recorded, but Dan Spitz’s lead guitars laid the foundation of the band that everyone knows.
If the list of members doesn’t change so heavily around 1983, maybe the word anthrax remains lowercased and only appears in scientific journals and terror-threat press releases. If Scott Ian and company had changed the name prior to the debut release, would that adjust the founding members even if the material was the same? Does it come down more to who wrote the songs and who played on the albums? If you didn’t write the songs, and didn’t play on the albums, are you more of a member or employee? Maybe employee would’ve been scoffed at in 1983, but it’s 2016 and it’s hard not to see these bands as anything but businesses.
I just saw a “press release” circulating about a former AC/DC singer that thinks his fans and fans of the band would like to see him return during vocalist Brian Johnson’s unfortunate hearing loss situation. My first reaction was, “satire site? Who is this? Am I having a stroke?”
Apparently this guy sang with AC/DC from 1973-1974, but he’s listed as only being a member next to Angus and Malcolm Young. Nobody else was even in the band. Is that even a band? No releases, and no complete lineup, but he gets to say he was in AC/DC? Is that mix sounding thin to anyone else?
What do you loyal Skulltoasters think? Who do you think of when you think of the founding fathers of the Big Four? Is it more about who was technically there first, or who is actually responsible for the first works that launched the band forward to success?