5 Popular Bands Whose Lineup Features Only One Original Member, Including Santana, Foreigner, and More

Asia recently unveiled plans to launch a new tour with a revamped lineup featuring just one of the prog-rock supergroup’s original members, keyboardist Geoff Downes. The announcement drew criticism from some fans, prompting Lisa Wetton, widow of founding Asia frontman John Wetton, to issue a statement supporting the latest incarnation of the group.

Videos by American Songwriter

Asia is hardly the only well-known band that has continued to tour with a lineup featuring only one original member. Here is a look at five other popular band’s that have carried on with a sole founding member:

[RELATED: John Wetton’s Widow Shuts Down Critics of New Asia Lineup: “He Wanted the Music to Live On”]

Santana – Carlos Santana

Santana formed in 1966, and by the time the band recorded its 1969 self-titled debut, the group’s classic lineup featured guitarist Carlos Santana, singer/keyboardist Gregg Rolie, drummer Michael Shrieve, bassist David Brown, and percussionists Michael Carabello and José “Chepito” Areas.

Neal Schon joined the band as a second guitarist in 1971, and Brown left the group that same year. In 1972, Schon and Rolie exited Santana, and the two went on to co-found Journey the following year.

By 1974, Carlos Santana was the only original member left in the band. Over the years, more than 60 musicians have played in Santana, with Carlos remaining the only constant presence. The current Santana lineup also features bassist Benny Rietveld (first joined in 1990), percussionist Karl Perazzo (joined in 1991), singer/percussionist Andy Vargas (joined in 2000), rhythm guitarist Tommy Anthony (joined in 2005), keyboardist David K. Matthews (joined in 2011), percussionist Paoli Mejías (joined in 2013), drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, Carlos’ wife (joined in 2015), and singer/percussionist Ray Greene (joined in 2016).

Foreigner – Mick Jones

Foreigner was formed in 1976 by guitarist Mick Jones, and the original lineup also featured singer Lou Gramm, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, bassist Ed Gagliardi, drummer Dennis Elliott, and keyboardist Al Greenwood.

Gagliardi left the group in 1979 and was replaced by Rick Wills, while McDonald and Greenwood both departed in 1980. Gramm exited Foreigner in 1990, but returned to the band in 1992 and remained with the group until 2003. Elliot left Foreigner in 1993.

Jones is the only original Foreigner member who remains part of the group, although health issues forced him to stop touring with the band in 2023. The current Foreigner lineup also features bassist Jeff Pilson (who joined the band in 2004), singer Kelly Hansen (joined in 2005), keyboardist Michael Bluestein (joined in 2008), drummer Chris Frazier (joined in 2012), and guitarists Bruce Watson and Luis Maldonado (joined in 2011 and 2021, respectively).

During the 2010s Gramm, McDonald, Elliott, and Greenwood played a handful of special reunion shows with Foreigner. Gagliardi died in 2014, while McDonald passed away in 2022.

Boston – Tom Scholz

Right from the start, Boston was the brainchild of guitarist/songwriter Tom Scholz. He wrote almost all of the songs, and in the studio, he played most of the instruments and produced the band’s recordings. That being said, frontman Brad Delp’s soaring vocals also was an essential element of the arena rockers’ sound.

The original Boston lineup also featured guitarist Barry Goudreau, bassist Fran Sheehan, and drummer Sib Hashian. Goudreau was fired from the band in 1981, and Sheehan and Hashian exited the group in 1983.

Delp played on and off with Boston until 2007, when, sadly, he died by suicide. After Delp’s passing, Boston continued to occasionally tour, and released one studio album, Life, Love & Hope, in 2013.

Boston last toured in 2017. The group’s current lineup features Scholz, guitarist/keyboardist Gary Pihl (who joined the band in 1985), drummer/percussionist Curly Smith (who first joined Boston in 1994), drummer/percussionist Jeff Neal (who first joined in 2002), singer Tommy DeCarlo (joined in 2008), bassist Tracy Ferrie (joined in 2012), and multi-instrumentalist Beth Cohen (a consistent member since 2015).

Jethro Tull – Ian Anderson

Jethro Tull was formed in 1967 by singer/flautist/guitarist Ian Anderson, guitarist Mick Abrahams, drummer Clive Bunker, and bassist Glenn Cornick. The folk-influenced prog-rock band’s debut album, This Was, was released in 1968. That same year, guitarist Martin Barre replaced Abrahams.

Cornick and Bunker exited the group in 1970 and ’71, respectively, leaving Anderson the sole original member. Barre continued to play with Jethro Tull until 2012.

Anderson then began to record and tour under his own name, but in 2017 he revived the Jethro Tull moniker. The band current lineup features bassist David Goodier and keyboardist John O’Hara, who both joined the group in 2007; drummer Scott Hammond (joined in 2017); and guitarist Jack Clark (joined in 2024).

Steely Dan – Donald Fagen

Steely Dan has an interesting history. Singer/keyboardist Donald Fagen and guitarist/bassist Walter Becker began collaborating together in the late 1960s after meeting while both attended Bard College. For a number of years, they composed songs together and also served as touring members of Jay and the Americans. In 1970, Fagen and Becker answered an ad placed by guitarist Denny Dias, who was looking for musicians with “jazz chops” to form a band … “A–holes need not apply.”

Steely Dan came together in 1972 with Fagen, Becker, Dias, guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, drummer Jim Hodder, and singer David Palmer.

Steely Dan’s original lineup recorded two studio albums—Can’t Buy a Thrill (1972) and Countdown to Ecstasy (1973). Palmer left the group after Countdown to Ecstasy. After the group released its third album, Pretzel Logic, in 1974, Fagen and Becker decided to fire the rest of the group and move forward with Steely Dan as a duo, hiring various session musicians to help them create their albums.

Fagen and Becker continued to lead the group together until Becker’s death in 2017 from esophageal cancer. Since then, Fagen has kept Steely Dan going with hired touring musicians.

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. And then there’s the long list of bands that don’t have any original members. But then you have to say what you mean by original members. For example, some articles say that Heart has no original members because Ann and Nancy Wilson were not in the original line-up.

Leave a Reply

George Strait Mourns the Death of Good Friend and Road Manager

George Strait Mourns the Death of Good Friend and Road Manager—His 3rd Personal Loss in Months