Interesting to read all the differing concepts. I have been thinking a lot lately about what makes a band because two of my other faves, Zepp and Yes are about to embark on tours w/out key players (or so it would seem). Phish will embark with all the original members, so it would seem that that is the logical choice but I've never quite enjoyed them, save for a few small shows I caught early on with the mini tramps and the Zappa covers.
Some bands are still great w/out all original members (Ex. for me include the Stones w/out B. Jones, Allman's w/out Duane, Who w/out Moonie, Yes w/out Bruford) and others I can't stand (Skynyrd, Doors, Queen, Creedence Clearwater Revisited?!?) so I ask myself (and you), what is it that makes the band acceptable when they alter the original formula? Dave Mathews lost a sax player, but he'll still go on, mostly unfazed. The E Street Band lost a piano player, but they're still touring. The Stones lost Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor, Ian Stewart and are still great. The Grateful Dead lost Jerry, so they no longer called themselves that (which I applaud) but are they still viable as a "band"? I saw Ratdog this summer and Gov't Mule opened for them and blew them away. Bobby is GREAT but not as the leader. Phil & Friends is fun because Phil seems to accept his role better, imho. I don't know if I'd go on tour or not.
"The only funeral you should ever try to interrupt is your own, and that should be a full-time job." -Kinky Friedman