NFL’s Replacement Ref Debacle: A Musical Tribute

In honor of the league's ongoing stint with replacement officials, MTV News looks back at some bad replacements in music history.

Aside from blowing more calls than Lt. Frank Drebin (or is it Enrico Palazzo?!?), tossing hats onto the field for no apparent reason, openly rooting for teams whose games they were assigned to call, being in over their heads to a level where Scuba equipment might be their only hope, causing $500 million in bets to randomly change hands in Las Vegas and potentially forever tarnishing the reputation of the league, things are working out pretty well for the NFL’s replacement referees.

As you’re probably aware, the latest debacle occurred on Monday Night Football, when replacement refs — hired by the NFL after the league couldn’t come to terms with the union for the actual referees — totally ignored a blatant pass interference, awarded a dubious touchdown to the Seattle Seahawks on the final play of the game and basically boned the Green Bay Packers out of a hard-fought victory.

Reaction to the blown call has been swift and almost uniformly negative, as broadcasters and players ripped the replacements — and the NFL itself — for allowing things to get this bad. And while we sort of feel bad for the men brought in to officiate (especially when their previous work experience included reffing games in the Lingerie Football League). So, in honor of the sheer ineptitude being displayed by the officials on the field, we’ve compiled a list of other replacements — musical ones — who fared about as well as these pseudo refs have. We’re not saying things are bad, but any time you’re being mentioned in the same breath as JD Fortune, well, it’s not good, either.

Dave Navarro: Already an established guitarist in his own right, Navarro replaced Arik Marshall in the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who, in turn, had replaced John Frusciante), and the end result was 1995′s One Hot Minute, which has gone on to be known amongst die-hard RHCP fans as “the one where they wore bondage gear in the videos” and “the one I never listen to.” Navarro was out of the band by 1998 — citing “creative differences” — and Frusciante returned to bring the Peppers back to their rightful standing in the rock world.

Farrah Franklin: Along with Michelle Williams, she replaced LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett in Destiny’s Child, though her time in the group lasted just one year. She was fired by the act — she learned about it from an MTV News article , BTW — after allegedly missing several promotional dates, and her impact was summed up thusly by HBIC Beyonce Knowles : “We’re going to be perfectly fine.”

Gary Cherone: Formerly of Extreme, Cherone drew the unenviable task of replacing frontman Sammy Hagar in Van Halen, and, well, things went about as well as you’d expect. He appeared on just one of the band’s albums, 1998′s Van Halen III which sold well … though certainly not up to ‘Halen standards. He’d eventually leave the group under amicable conditions, and remains on good terms with them to this day, even getting mentioned when Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . And in hindsight, was he really any worse than Wolfgang Van Halen?

JD Fortune: He won the televised reality competition “Rock Star: INXS” and stepped in for deceased frontman Michael Hutchence, though his time with the band was marred by frequent spats and drug abuse. He was fired, then re-hired, and his stint with the group final came to an end in 2011, when INXS announced they had mutually agreed the partnership wasn’t working. This came as news to Fortune, who claims he learned about that decision on INXS’s website, a fact he found “bizarre.” Come to think of it, that’s a pretty apt description for this entire debacle.

John Corabi: More a victim of circumstance than anything else, Corabi joined Motley Crue after iconic frontman Vince Neil split, then had the misfortune of singing with them on their self-titled 1994 album, which was released during the height of Grunge and quickly disappeared from memory. He was out of the band by 1997, as Neil was brought back to front the equally disastrous Generation Swine era.

Mikey Welsh: He took over bass duties in Weezer after founding member Matt Sharp split, during the midst of the band’s hiatus. He toured with them in 2000 and played on their comeback Green album, though he could never truly replace the vivacious Sharp and was out of the Weez soon after suffering a breakdown. He’d retire from music altogether and become a full-time artist, and sadly, in 2011, he was found dead after a reported drug overdose.

Vinnie Vincent: He replaced Ace Frehley in KISS, and famously warred with his new employers over a percentage of the band’s profits for the duration of his time in the band (he also proudly never signed a contract with them). Perhaps as revenge, Gene Simmons and Co. stuck him with perhaps the lamest gimmick in KISS history: The Ankh Warrior, which forced him to take the stage with a mythical symbol painted on his face. Of course, Vincent would subsequently be vindicated in the form of the cleverly titled 2008 cover album Kiss My Ankh, which saw bands covering the tunes he wrote with the group.