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The Pixies and rock's revolving doors

Black Francis

Black Francis Credit: Black Francis of The Pixies (Getty)

At this time last year, the Pixies lineup looked like it had since the quartet of Boston-area musicians first got together in 1986, with Black Francis (or Frank Black) on lead vocals, Joey Santiago on guitar, Dave Lovering on drums and Kim Deal on bass. Twelve months later, the band is on its third bassist (and first not named Kim): Paz Lenchantin, ex-Zwan member.

But the Pixies aren’t the only band that has survived personnel changes. In fact, some bands are particularly tough on certain instruments, with a constantly-changing cast of characters. Here are some of the music industry’s most difficult gigs, ones with the least job security. Land one of these assignments? Keep your resume up-to-date.

Lead Singer
Band: Van Halen
How Many: 3.5
Most Common Reason For Departure: Ego
First, David Lee Roth was too big for the band. Then, it was Sammy Hagar. Mitch Malloy was in the band just long enough for David Lee Roth’s ego to sink Malloy, too (hence the .5).

Lead Guitarist
Band: Guns N’ Roses
How Many: 7
Most Common Reason For Departure: Axl Rose might be crazy
If you worked on the same album for more than a decade, and then it turned out as mediocre as “Chinese Democracy,” you’d go crazy too.

Bassist
Band: Smashing Pumpkins
How Many: 4
Most Common Reason For Departure: Somehow, not Billy Corgan
The bassists of the Pumpkins reportedly left because of drugs, the original break-up of the band and motherhood, making them three rarities: Ex-bandmates that Corgan may not completely hate.

Keyboardist
Band: Whitesnake
How Many: 7
Most Common Reason For Departure: Control
Lead singer David Coverdale has shut the band down twice (always returning with a new lineup) and, on other occasions, keyboardists like Jon Lord (Deep Purple) and Timothy Drury (solo) left for other projects.

Drummer
Band: Spinal Tap
How Many: 20ish
Most Common Reason For Departure: Death
Not just the most dangerous in terms of career, sitting behind the Spinal Tap drum kit was actually the third most-common cause of death in the 1970s.

If you go: The Pixies are at The Capitol Theatre on Sunday at 8 p.m., 149 Westchester Ave., Port Chester, 914-937-4126, $59.50.  

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