Teen Musicians Who Joined Huge Established Rock Bands

It's a daunting task for anyone to replace a key member of an established rock band. It is especially challenging for a teenage musician to join an established band made up of older musicians. Here are four musicians who successfully joined huge rock bands as teens.

01
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John Frusciante - Guitarist for Red Hot Chili Peppers at 18

John Frusciante 1992
John Frusciante 1992. Photo: Ian Dickson-Redferns-Getty Images.

John Frusciante saw his first Red Hot Chili Peppers' show at age 15. He idolized RHCP guitarist Hillel Slovak who died of a drug overdose in 1988. Frusciante was asked to join the Red Hot Chili Peppers after then-former Parliament-Funkadelic guitarist DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight was fired after 3 shows. 18-year-old Frusciante went on to play on the Chili Peppers breakthrough album 1989's Mother's Milk, and their best selling 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. He left the band in 1992 due being overwhelmed by the band's rise to fame. After years of drug addiction Frusciante became sober and rejoined RHCP in 1998. He played on and toured for RHCP's successful Californication (1999), By The Way (2002), and Stadium Arcadium (2006) albums before leaving the band permanently in 2009. Watch John Frusciante play "Knock Me Down" with Red Hot Chili Peppers live at Long Beach Arena at age 19 here.

02
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Wolfgang Van Halen - Bassist for Van Halen at 15

Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen 2007
Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen 2007. Photo: Kevin Mazur-WireImage-Getty Images.

Guitar icon Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang "Wolfie" Van Halen began rehearsing with his father and uncle/drummer Alex Van Halen at age 15. In 2006 Wolfgang, 16, replaced original bassist/backup singer Michael Anthony in Van Halen when original singer David Lee Roth reunited with the band. The revamped Van Halen toured throughout 2007-2008 and recorded their first full studio album since 1984, 2012's A Different Kind of Truth starting in 2010 when Wolfgang was 19. Wolfgang's growth as a musician was apparent on the album and many fans thought his father played the intricate bass lines on the album. Once Van Halen's 2012 began it was apparent that Wolfgang had grown as a bass player, a backup vocalist, and a man. In 2012 Wolfgang also toured with Creed/Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti's solo band Tremonti and also recorded bass and vocals on their 2015 Cauterize album. Wolfgang, who also plays drums and guitar is planning his first solo album and continues to tour with Van Halen. Watch Wolfgang play "She's The Woman" with Van Halen live at the tiny Cafe Wha at age 20 here.

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Ilan Rubin - Drummer for Lostprophets at 18 and then Nine Inch Nails

Ilan Rubin 2007
Ilan Rubin 2007. Photo: Jo Hale-Getty Images.

In 2006 at age 18 American drummer/multi-instumentalist Ilan Rubin replaced original drummer Mike Chiplin in the Welsh band Lostprophets. Rubin left the band in 2008. Rubin went on to play drums and other instruments live with Nine Inch Nails since 2009 and in now-former Blink-182 singer/guitarist Tom Delonge project Angels & Airwaves since 2011. Since 2007 Rubin has also recorded three solo albums, recording all the vocals and instruments himself, under the pseudonym The New Regime. Ilan (pronounced IL-Lan) celebrated his 21st birthday by playing a concert with Nine Inch Nails in Paris in 2009. NIN's Trent Reznor hired two exotic dancers to dance onstage for Ilan's and drop a birthday cake on his head. Ilan continued playing the show with his hair covered in frosting. Watch Ilan play "The Becoming" live with Nine Inch Nails at age 20 here.

04
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Mike Byrne - Drummer for The Smashing Pumpkins at 19

Billy Corgan & Mike Byrne 2011
Billy Corgan & Mike Byrne 2011. Photo: Robert Marquardt-Getty Images.

In 2009 Mike Byrne, then 19, was chosen from thousands of auditioning drummers to replace departed original drummer Jimmy Chamberlain in The Smashing Pumpkins. Byrne played on The Smashing Pumpkins 44-song project Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, which included the band's eighth album 2012 Oceania album and tour. Byrne appeared in The Smashing Pumpkins' Oceania: Live in NYC concert film released in November 2013, taken from a December 12, 2012 concert at Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center. In June 2014 Corgan reported that Byrne had left The Smashing Pumpkins after Corgan began recording the band's ninth album Monuments to an Elegy in March 2014 with Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee. Watch Mike Byrne's first audition for The Smashing Pumpkins at the 5:00 mark in this video.