Queen, Adam Lambert prepare to rock Madison Square Garden

Adam Lambert and Brian May of Queen perform Adam Lambert and Brian May of Queen perform during their concert at The Joint Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas on Saturday, July 5, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Steve Spatafore

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Many fans regret never seeing Queen in concert. But is it worth buying a ticket to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act perform without the rock icon Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991? Fans will find out when Queen -- with "American Idol" star Adam Lambert on vocals -- plays Madison Square Garden on Thursday. It's not an unprecedented pairing -- Lambert fronted the band at the 2011 MTV Music Video Awards, and kicked off a 24-date North American tour with the band on June 19.

It's the latest example of a band trying to soldier on -- as well as pad the bank account -- without its iconic front man or front woman. The results have varied wildly over the decades.

Of course, it's hard to imagine Queen without Mercury, he of the four-octave range and theatrical stage moves that made him one of the most acclaimed rock performers in history. Yet, this isn't even the first time Queen has tried touring with a replacement singer. The band performed for several years, beginning in 2004, with former Bad Company front man Paul Rodgers.

In honor of the Lambert-led Queen's visit, we've decided to look back at some of the other acts who have continued on without their most visible member -- after they were already well established in the music world.

 

AC/DC

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The switch: Bon Scott dies in 1980 at the age of 33, after helping to establish AC/DC as one of the world's best rock bands in the '70s. Brian Johnson quickly steps in and leads the Aussie hard-rock act into a new era.

The result: It was a tall task to try to replace Scott, the equally magnificent and menacing frontman behind such anthems as "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," "Highway to Hell" and, best of all, "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)." Yet, Johnson quickly proved worthy of the challenge. He joined the band just in time to record 1980's immortal "Back in Black," which went on to become one of the top-selling albums of all time. It didn't hurt that Johnson's voice was pretty similar to Scott's. Since then, Johnson has led the band through eight more studio efforts -- all of which have been certified multiplatinum.

 

VAN HALEN

The switch: Original vocalist David Lee Roth and quitarist Eddie Van Halen just weren't on the same page in the mid-'80s. But the guitarist is king in this band, which meant it was time for Roth to go and Sammy Hagar to step in.

The result: Ask 10 people to name a band that changed lead singers, and probably nine will answer with Van Halen. This is the signature switch in all of rock, with the SoCal hard rock act going from one iconic vocalist to another without missing a beat on the Billboard charts. Hagar led the group through four tremendously successful, painfully mediocre albums before leaving the fold (at least for the first time) in 1996.

 

GENESIS

The switch: Peter Gabriel needed to be free and Phil Collins was ready to be in charge. The latter took over the reins when Gabriel departed after the 1974 prog-rock masterpiece, "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway."

The result: Collins already had his hands full -- literally speaking -- as the band's drummer. Yet, he was more than ready to move into the spotlight once Gabriel departed for a solo career. Genesis was a successful art-rock band under Gabriel, but became a much bigger-selling band with Collins at the helm, as it eventually veered away from complex song structures and concept albums toward a sound that favored Top 40 radio.

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BLACK SABBATH

The switch: The once-mighty metal band appeared to be on life support as it gasped and sputtered through 1978's "Never Say Die!" and the subsequent concert tour. Drugs and booze were hitting the band hard -- particularly singer Ozzy Osbourne -- and it was time for a drastic change. And itching Osbourne for Ronnie James Dio certainly qualified as drastic.

The result: The move benefitted everyone involved. Osbourne found new life as a solo artist, easily eclipsing his Sabbath sales figures with such multiplatinum offerings as "Blizzard of Ozz." Dio solidified his place among the greatest metal vocalists of all time. And Sabbath regained the focus and mojo it lost during the late '70s. Dio only stuck around for two albums -- 1980's "Heaven and Hell" and 1981's "Mob Rules" -- but they were both metal masterpieces. Osbourne later reunited with the band.

 

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FLEETWOOD MAC

The switch: The Mac was in constant flux -- especially at the microphone -- during its first eight years. The band finally recruited Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in time for its 10th studio album, 1975's "Fleetwood Mac," and the rest is rock and roll history.

The result: Under the guidance of Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac found some success as a blues-rock outfit in the '60s. Yet, it was going nowhere fast in the '70s -- until it joined forces with the promising Bay Area duo Buckingham Nicks. Buckingham was a hotshot guitarist and decent vocalist, but it was Nicks who really made the biggest difference. Her exquisite voice helped push the band to superstardom on "Fleetwood Mac" -- and then well beyond on 1977's mega-platinum "Rumors."

 

JOURNEY

The switch: The Bay Area band reluctantly went from Steve Perry to Steve Augeri in 1998. But fans still wanted a lead vocalist who sounded like Perry. They'd get one in 2007 with Arnel Pineda.

The result: Talk about living the dream. Pineda was in a Philippines rock band that covered Journey. Neal Schon saw some of the band's clips on YouTube and asked Pineda if he actually wanted to join Journey. The move has seemed to reinvigorate both Journey and its fan base.

 

WHO Queen with Adam Lambert

WHEN | WHERE Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Madison Square Garden

TICKETS $49.50-$149.50

INFO ticketmaster.com

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