Singer Austin Winkler, Hinder Split

The rocker had entered rehab for drug addiction following the recording of the band's 2012 album, "Welcome to the Freakshow."
Pamela Littky

This story first appeared on

Austin Winkler, lead singer of the hard rock band Hinder, has officially left the band due to personal reasons.

While the band toured earlier this year, Winkler took a leave of absence and was replaced by fill-in vocalists like Saving Abel's Jared Weeks. (American Idol season seven winner David Cook was also approached for the frontman role, The Hollywood Reporter's Idol Worship blog reported in July). Wednesday's news makes the departure final.

PHOTOS: Decadence, Incorporated: The Rock Tours of '73

Winkler was an original member of Hinder, who formed during 2001 in Oklahoma City, OK. Guitarist Joe Garvey and drummer Cody Hanson spotted him singing cover songs at a college party and enlisted him the band. Winkler went into rehab for drug addiction following the recording of the band's most recent album, 2012's Welcome to the Freakshow. In a November 2012 interview, he told Billboard, "I was in a very, very, very dark addiction. I think you can definitely hear the turmoil in my voice."

Hinder has released four albums on Universal Republic, all featuring Winkler. Their most successful album remains their 2005 debut Extreme Behavior, which produced the No. 3 single "Lips of an Angel."

STORY: Dr. Drew: No More 'Celebrity Rehab' After Cast Member Deaths

The band confirms that the loss does not mark the end of Hinder. 

"We hold no animosity towards Austin, and wish him the best," says Hanson via press release. "Although it was a difficult decision, it was the best thing for everyone involved and time for us to move on. This summer/fall tour was a tough one. We want to thank the fans for all their overwhelming support."

Winkler's replacement has not been announced.