When Alice in Chains announced that they would join the recent 90s nostalgia revival and "reunite" featuring a new singer, there was a large amount of trepidation amongst their fan base. William DuVall took over the deceased Layne Staley's duties as lead vocalist. A solid singer, DuVall essentially sounds like a Staley knock off, executing an outstanding imitation of the late rocker's tortured, zombie-like delivery at the microphone.
But Alice in Chains was not all about Layne. Jerry Cantrell was the force behind the band's metal-grunge. signature, grindingly industrial guitar sound that made the band arguably the darkest and heaviest of the high profile groups involved in the 90s alternative movement. And his harmonization and vocal interplay with Layne was also essential to the uniqueness of the band's sound, still present in a less-than-fresh way on the new Black Gives Way to Blue (2009).
Cantrell had used DuVall on multiple occasions during his solo tours (to sing the harmony parts on the Alice in Chains Songs in the set list) and his aforementioned likeness to Staley's voice was easily integrated into the essential sound of the band. While the current incarnation is not the truest version of Alice in Chains, there is a definite legitimacy to this group that many other bands don't possess when they bring in a new lead singer.
Like for example, Sublime. On October 23, 2009 the estate of deceased lead singer Bradley Nowell threatened the surviving members of Sublime — Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh — with a law suit if they followed through with their plans to reform with a new lead singer named Rome Ramirez (pictured above) under the moniker of Sublime. The estate issued the following statement:
"It was recently announced that Sublime bassist Eric Wilson and Sublime drummer Floyd 'Bud' Gaugh are 'reuniting' and teaming with singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez in a band they intend to call 'Sublime.' Prior to his untimely passing, both Bud and Eric acknowledged that Brad Nowell was the sole owner of the name Sublime. It was Brad's expressed intention that no one use the name Sublime in any group that did not include him, and Brad even registered the trademark 'Sublime' under his own name. As Brad's heirs, and with the support of his entire family, we only want to respect his wishes and therefore have not consented to Bud and Eric calling their new project 'Sublime.' We have always supported Bud and Eric's musical endeavors and their desire to continue to play Sublime's music. We wholeheartedly supported Bud, Eric and the many talented members of the Sublime posse that formed the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, soon after Brad's death, to honor him through their original recordings, live performances and Sublime music until they disbanded in 2001. But, out of respect for Brad's wishes, we have always refused to endorse any group performing as 'Sublime,' and now with great reluctance feel compelled to take the appropriate legal action to protect Brad's legacy. Our hope is that Brad's ex-bandmates will respect his wishes and find a new name to perform under, so as to enhance the 'Sublime' legacy without the confusion and disappointment that many fans have expressed upon seeing the announcement"
The band has since made an appearance with Ramirez as their lead singer at Cypress Hill's SmokeOut Festival in San Bernardino, California and the estate has, in turn, filed a lawsuit. All they wanted was for the band to take a different name. Like oh, I don't know, The Long Beach Dub All Stars perhaps? For five years the surviving members of Sublime toured as the LBDAS, releasing two albums, and finding mild success, mostly from Sublime's loyal fan base. But now, for some reason ($$$), two men who said they would always respect the memory and wishes of their deceased lead singer and friend, especially in respect to the entity he created and loved so dearly, are selling their musical souls to prostitute a name that still has a great deal of meaning to many music fans as well as the family of the man who embodied it.
Sublime is a band that this never should have happened to. It was bad enough seeing Scott Stapp front The Doors (if only for two songs) or Paul Rodgers playing Freddie Mercury and touring with "Queen" (and at least both of those bands were exceptionally talented musically and Rodgers can sing). But at the heart of Sublime's music, at the core of their creative energy, are the many layers and influences of Bradley Nowell. His songs are personal expressions about his life, his perceptions of the world around him, and the emotions that emanated from within him. Sublime was not about the drummer and bass player that jammed behind Bradley. Any set of session musicians could have handled what Wilson and Gaugh contributed. They were great because they were "part of it" and that's it. The previous statement is definitely harsh and yet absolutely true and they knew it at the time.