Legendary musicians you didn’t know auditioned for other bands

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Legendary musicians you didn’t know auditioned for other bands

(Image: rockandrollgarage.com)
Words by Benjamin Lamb

From Slash to Maynard James Keenan, our curiosity is at an all time high here!

You’d be surprised how many of your favourite bands have had world class, legendary musicians audition for them. Whether it was during the formation of the group or when they were in need of a line-up change, many massive names were on the audition lists.

Today, we’re diving into some of the legendary musicians you didn’t know auditioned for other bands.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

Slash – Poison

The GnR axe-wielding virtuoso was almost part of the rock group that brought tracks like ‘Unskinny Bop’ to fame. Slash’s style seemed a far cry of what was to come from the ‘Talk Dirty to Me’ hitmakers, singer Bret Michaels stated at the time “Slash is one of my all-time favourite guitar players and I believe he would have steered our sound a little more in the Aerosmith direction.”

Elton John – King Crimson

Almost 60 years ago, a little-known British singer known then as Reginald Dwight auditioned for the lead vocalist position of prog rockers King Crimson. At the time, Elton had one release under his belt, but hadn’t got a lot of attention.

King Crimson’s band members decided it wasn’t a good idea, and Elton went on to create some of the most well-known and widely well received of the last few decades.

Les Claypool – Metallica

The bass slapping maestro could’ve been an integral member of the world’s biggest thrash metal band. Following the tragic death of Cliff Burton, the four horsemen became three. The group were then after a new bassist, with one of the top contenders being Kirk Hammett’s friend Les Claypool.

So the story goes, frontman James Hetfield stated Claypool was too good for Metallica, but at the time, Claypool thinks he just wasn’t the right fit. We can only imagine what Metallica would have sounded like.

Steven Tyler – Led Zeppelin

Back in the mid 2000s, Led Zeppelin performed one of the most important and best reunion concerts at the O2 Arena in London, for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert. After the show, the group were still riding the high from the reunion and had many offers for tours and opportunities to play together across the globe. But vocalist Robert Plant wasn’t interested, mainly due to prior tour commitments with Allison Krauss.

The group then decided to audition other vocalists, one of which was Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, who would’ve given an interesting flavour to the Zeppelin tracks. The tour didn’t end up eventuating as the group believed it couldn’t be done without Plant. A good decision.

Michael Bolton – Black Sabbath

Your mum’s favourite singer could’ve been part of your dad’s favourite band! In 1982, when Ozzy wasn’t a part of the group anymore, and Ronnie James Dio had just left the band, Black Sabbath was after a new vocalist. A bunch of great singers auditioned for the spot, which included David Coverdale and John Sloman, but perhaps the most surprising was classic rock vocalist Michael Bolton, but the group didn’t feel like he would be the best fit.

Even though Bolton denies it and dismisses it as a rumour, the rumour started from none other than Tony Iommi. Believe who you want to believe.

Jeff Beck – The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones have had a bunch of musicians join them as part of touring companies over the years, some of them included Billy Preston, Steve Jordan, and Brian Jones. One of those could’ve been Jeff Beck, who auditioned back in the 1970s.

While the band loved his work, Beck actually pulled himself out of the equation, after he wasn’t happy with the dynamic of the group. Beck ended up going on to bigger and better things, getting to work with Beatles producer George Martin.

Dimebag Darrell – Megadeth

Former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell almost auditioned for the role of guitarist in Megadeth. The Dave Mustaine fronted group was after some new members around the release of Rust In Peace. Darrell was offered the role to audition but turned it down after Megadeth weren’t interested in auditioning his drumming brother, Vinnie Paul.

At this time, it was also a possibility that Slash could’ve joined the band, after jamming a great deal with the group during that time. Dimebag and Vinnie went on to release many hit albums with Pantera.

Maynard James Keenan – Rage Against the Machine

One of the most surprising auditions on this list is Maynard James Keenan and his sessions with Rage Against The Machine. It wasn’t a classic audition, rather Keenan was working on a few single tracks with the group, and while playing with them, got the sense that they were after him to take on a more full-time position with the group.

RATM were apparently after a different direction with the music they were playing, and subsequently wanted a new vocalist. Maynard didn’t take up the position, continuing to work with Tool and Puscifer.

More on that here.