Orion the Hunter, which featured several founding members of Boston, is a prime example of a standout short lived rock supergroup.
Throughout the course of rock history there have been countless splits, memorable exitings, cringe-worthy breakups and long lasting feuds. When the members of notable groups such as Boston, Queen and Van Halen stepped away from their founding positions within their respective bands, it wasn’t uncommon for these same members to go on and form new projects of their own. Some chose to pursue a solo career with varying success, whereas others would surround themselves with other renowned names within the rock community and form dynamic supergroups.
These supergroups sometimes launch off into strong commercial success and become engraved within the pages of rock history. Others quickly establish a dedicated fan following, and while never reaching the same heights as those aforementioned bands still maintain a memorable career.
Then we have those projects which more or less don’t receive the proper publicity and mainstream attention required in order to become successful and quickly diminish. We run through six of these standout, short lived rock supergroups, who only went as far as to release a debut studio album before eventually disbanding but are all more than worth a listen.
Steve Howe (Yes, Asia), Steve Hackett (Genesis), Phil Spalding (Elton John), Jonathan Mover (Alice Cooper), Max Bacon (Nightwing)
Following guitarist Steve Howe’s departure from Asia in 1985, Howe approached Yes manager Brian Lane about creating a new project. The result was GTR, a band which featured Genesis alumina Steve Hackett as well as members from Alice Cooper and Elton John‘s solo lineups. The project was fronted by Nightwing lead vocalist Max Bacon, who provided the majority of the bold vocal harmonies found throughout GTR’s eponymous 1986 studio album.
The effort became a strong commercial success, with the album’s lead single “When the Heart Rules the Mind” quickly climbing to number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, whereas the album itself peaked at No. 11 on the Top 200. Following a successful tour in support of the album, things began to fall out between Hackett and Howe, with Howe ultimately deciding to leave the band. Queen‘s Brian May was intended to be Howe’s replacement in GTR, however despite initial enthusiasm from May and even recording three demo tracks, the project was ultimately concluded.
Heaven & Hell
Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath, Dio), Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath)
It was a momentous occasion when the entire ‘Mob Rules’-era Black Sabbath lineup reunited in 2006. Lead guitarist and founding member Tony Iommi, who holds control over the Black Sabbath title, decided that this new project should go under a different name as to differentiate between the Ozzy Osbourne-led era of the group. The supergroup eventually decided on the fitting moniker Heaven & Hell, which as any dedicated fan can tell you in great detail was the first Black Sabbath album to feature Ronnie James Dio on lead vocals.
Heaven & Hell’s 2009 studio album ‘The Devil You Know’ was widely acclaimed for its explosive sound which remained true to the four’s collective collaborations dating back nearly thirty years prior. The effort earned the title of Album of the Year amongst several notable publications, and continues to receive praising recognition from heavy metal fans for being a triumphant epitaph for the late great Ronnie James Dio, who lost his battle with stomach cancer in 2010.
Orion the Hunter
Fran Cosmo (Boston), Barry Goudreau (Boston), Brad Delp (Boston), Michael DeRosier (Heart), Brian Maes (RTZ)
Following Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau’s exiting from the renowned rock group, Goudreau decided to embark on a solo career. For his self-titled debut studio album, Barry Goudreau would be joined by original Boston lead vocalist Brad Delp, as well as future Boston singer Fran Cosmo. This collaboration served as the inspiration behind the formation of the rock supergroup Orion the Hunter. The group initially wanted to be simply called Cosmo, however following pressure from film company Orion Pictures the name was quickly changed to Orion the Hunter.
Upon the release of their self-titled debut in 1984, Orion the Hunter were met with moderate commercial success; the album’s lead single “So You Ran” was a memorable Top 10 hit on rock radio. Delp co-wrote several of the songs which appeared on Orion the Hunter’s debut with Cosmo, while serving as the group’s backup vocalist. Brad Delp reportedly enjoyed the collaboration so much that when he would later rejoin Goudreau to form another new project in 1989, RTZ, Delp was the one to introduce Cosmo to Tom Scholz as his replacement.
Paul Di’Anno (Iron Maiden), Pete Willis (Def Leppard), Neil Murray (Whitesnake), Clive Burr (Iron Maiden), Janick Gers (White Spirit)
Taking their name from a legendary giant in British folklore, Gogmagog featured an impressive compilation of talent from throughout the rock and metal community, including original Iron Maiden lead vocalist Paul Di’Anno, founding Def Leppard guitarist Pete Wills, and bassist Neil Murray from Black Sabbath and Whitesnake. Gogmagog were originally formed by producer Jonathan King with the intention of creating a revolutionary rock opera: a goal which was eventually abandoned. Following their incarnation in 1985, Gogmagog recorded their sole studio effort in a brief time period of only three days.
Gogmagog’s 1985 EP, entitled ‘I Will Be There,’ failed to make a noticeable impact on the charts, and following the album’s lack of commercial success the project was dropped. The album’s title track was originally recorded by Argent vocalist Russ Ballard, which Gogmagog does a commendable job at covering. A criminally underrated effort which has ultimately stood the test of time.
Brian May & Friends
Brian May (Queen), Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen), Alan Gratzer (REO Speedwagon), Phil Chen (Jeff Beck), Fred Mandel (Queen), Roger Taylor (Queen)
Queen guitarist Brian May assembled a staggering cast of musical talent to participate in his 1983 project, the aptly named Star Fleet Project. The end product was released under the moniker Brian May & Friends, and featured such musicians as guitar icon Eddie Van Halen, REO Speedwagon‘s Alan Gretzer, and Jeff Beck session musician Phil Chen. During the album’s opening track “Star Fleet,” we can hear the always captivating guitar talent of Van Halen, boldly driven around varying tap harmonics, signature two hand tapping techniques and screaming string bends, all drenched in generous amounts of flanger.
Brian May’s story behind the song? “Star Fleet is the theme tune for a superb TV sci-fi series broadcast in England for kids of all ages; Japanese visuals and British soundtrack including music by Paul Bliss,” explains May. “The heroes pilot space vehicles which can assemble into a giant robot for land battles. The aliens fly fantastic insect-like craft which spawn smaller fighting machines; all intent on possession of the secret of F Zero One. Having been introduced to all this by my small boy, I became equally obsessed by it, and formed the idea of making a hard rock version of the title theme.”
Bobby Kimball (Toto), Billy Sherwood (Yes), Tony Kaye (Yes), Jimmy Haun (Air Supply), Jay Shellen (Asia)
One of the most recent rock supergroups to have already released a debut studio album and disband is Yoso. This group showed Toto original lead vocalist Bobby Kimball joining forces with a collection of former members of Yes, and creating some notable music in the process. Yoso released their debut album ‘Elements’ via Frontiers Records back in 2010, before eventually going their separate ways in 2011.