Bands Who Said They’d Never Reform… And Then Did
Being in a band isn't all roses and sunshine, in fact given the close proximity of the touring lifestyle and the inherent concessions that come from creative collaboration; being in a band usually leads people to say some very, very horrible things about each other. Terrible words they end up eating when they either bury their differences 'for the fans'... or more likely when the offer of a reunion tour comes knocking with a steaming pile of cash. 'Breaking up is hard to do' sang Neil Sedaka, but sometimes reunions are even harder (and more complicated). Whether it's the original lineup 'getting the band back together' or being replaced by a turnstile of musical lackeys, we've gathered our favourite instances of bands and acts who said they'd never, ever, ever reform... and then did.
Jane's Addiction In 2008, rumours began surfacing that the LA quartet would be up for a reunion. Frontman Perry Farrell quickly refuted the claims, saying; “There’s as much likelihood of that happening as there being commercial space flights.” While we’re still waiting on commercial space flights, the band did in fact get back together when they accepted NME’s ‘Godlike Genius’ award in 2008, where they also performed with original bassist Eric Avery for the first time since 1991. Ten years after, Jane’s Addiction released their fourth studio album, The Great Escape Artist.
Eagles Breaking up in 1980 after tensions in the band got the better of them. The inevitable reunion tour rumours surfaced sometime after. Things then got ugly, with Don Henley reportedly saying that they would reunite when “hell freezes over.” Funnily enough, that was the title of their reunion tour and subsequent live album when they got back together 14 years later. Although not without a dash of controversy, the band fired lead guitarist Don Felder in 2001; who responded by suing the band, but it was settled outside of court. Ahhh happy families.
John Farnham Comeback tour jokes about Farnsy surface frequently, and it’s not hard to wonder why, given his history of putting his retirement on ice only to thaw it out again. ‘The Voice’ (not that one) singer embarked on a 2002 tour named ‘The Last Time’. But his retirement was short-lived, heading out with Tom Jones in 2004. It doesn’t stop there. Farnham then hit the road in 2009 for his ‘Live By Demand’ shows. He also released an album, Jack, in 2010 and went on tour to support that as well. We get the feeling that John Farnham doesn’t quite get the meaning of ‘retirement’.
Pixies Black Francis quit the band he founded in 1993 via fax, choosing a more passive method to announce his resignation from the Pixies. The musician threw his guitar at fellow bandmate Kim Deal at a concert in Stuttgart on their Doolittle tour, and Deal was almost fired when she refused to play a concert in Frankfurt. A much-needed hiatus ensued, and it wasn’t until an offer for 2004 world tour that they would reunite, which included appearing at Splendour in the Grass in 2010. They may not be working on new material, but we should be happy they’re back together playing live... as long as they don’t start throwing instruments at each other again.
The Stone Roses The influential Manchester act fell apart in 1996 after legal problems and inglorious in-fighting. Their guitarist John Squire had left the band a full year before that, and on the eve of their 20th anniversary in 2010, released a photo of his artwork with the statement: “I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses.” Apparently Squire is a grave desecrater then, as the band reformed for a reunion tour in 2012. That’s not to say that time hasn’t quelled their disputes after Ian Brown called Reni a ‘c**t’ on stage at a recent Amsterdam gig.
Spice Girls Geri ‘Ginger Spice’ Halliwell may have been the first to leave the world’s biggest girl band, but the Spice Girls eventually parted ways in late December 2001. A collective sigh of relief may was taken the world over, until the group reformed in 2007 of course, with ‘The Return of the Spice Girls’ tour and a greatest hits album. Even Mel C, who vowed “I would never get back together with the Spice Girls” after revealing she suffered from depression in 2005; must have found the call to incite mass screams on a global scale to good to ignore. Even today, the Spice Girls still haven’t laid their legacy to rest, with the group announcing plans for a West End production, entitled Viva Forever! The Musical.
The Police After they failed to produce a sixth studio album to follow 1983’s Synchronicity, The Police called it quits in 1986. However, despite the band saying they would never reform, 2007 saw the trio embark on a reunion tour which generated $340 million dollars’ worth of revenue. The sound of cash registers couldn’t drown out the foul arguments though. During rehearsals, the band still found it difficult to stay away from each other’s throats. Drummer Stewart Copeland wrote in his biography that he told Sting; “Do not even make eye contact with me, let alone make another suggestion about how I should play my drums … you fucking piece of shit!” You can’t buy that kind of love.
The Libertines Pete Doherty’s drug problems spelt the end of The Libertines in 2004. The quartet’s relationship quickly deteriorated while Carl Barat and Gary Powell went on to start Dirty Pretty Things. Powell was asked about the possibility of a reunion, but convincingly stated his case against; “Absolutely not. There’s no way. I don’t even talk to Pete anymore. Even if I had seven kids in a few years time and desperately needed the money, I wouldn’t do it. From the point of view of fans, I don’t understand why they would want to spend all that money seeing old bands when there’s so much new music out there.” Maybe eight kids then? The Libertines reformed for a performance at Reading and Leeds festival in 2010.
Blur Guitarist Graham Coxon left Blur during the strenuous recordings of their last album, 2003’s Think Tank. Damon Albarn, Alex James and Dave Rowntree telling him that “he was no longer welcome in the studio”. The outfit were reportedly working together again on a new EP in 2005, and even an LP two years later, but nothing materialised. Instead they played two shows at Hyde Park and headlined Glastonbury festival in 2009. There’s been much reported on their activity of late, with Albarn throwing out vague statements about the band’s future, speculating that their Olympic gig could be there last, while the band recently released two brand new songs via Twitter for their upcoming Hyde Park blow-out.
Van Halen Between the Van Halen brothers - Eddie and Alex - and David Lee Roth, the band has had its fair share of drama. Roth quit the band in 1985 in turmoil, with Sammy Hagar taking over lead vocal duties soon after. That is, until 1996 when he ‘departed’ the band, debate continues whether he quit or was fired, depending on whose side of the story you hear. Another lead singer came and went before the band decided to stop searching (obviously reality TV hadn’t quite been invented yet). The rock outfit obviously love a good reunion or two, first with Hagar from 2003-2005, before eventually going full circle and bringing Roth back into the fold in 2006. That’s before mentioning that Eddie’s 17-year-old son, Wolfgang Van Halen, unceremoniously replaced Michael Anthony on bass in 2006…
Pink Floyd Controversy is usually on the cards when a band goes their own ways and Pink Floyd weren’t short on that. In 1979, Wright was forced by Waters to leave the group, and not long after in 1983 they spilt, the same year The Final Cut was released. But this separation was short-lived, with three band members reforming two years later, which led to the releases of A Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987 and its delayed follow-up, The Division Bell in 1994. Although there was ongoing bitterness from Waters, the band put aside their differences for a special one-off show at the Live 8 event in 2005. Rumours of a second reunion featuring Waters have been bubbling ever since, but asked whether their relationship had improved, Gilmour remarked “You would think so… but it’s almost non-existent now.”
Soundgarden After forming in 1984, the early 90s found Soundgarden rising through the grunge ranks as a key act of the ‘Seattle Scene,’ but by 1997 – they’d parted ways. There seemed like no chance for a reconciliation, but fans learned to ‘never say never’. As recently as 2009, Cornell was quoted as saying he’d discussed with the band to “have an agreement that we will never tour Soundgarden… it will never exist.” Then, only a few months later - Twitter was the site of an official confirmation: “The 12 year break is over & school is back in session. Sign up now. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!", frontman Chris Cornell announced. Since then they’ve been on the reunion tour trail and supposedly working on a new album following their compilation, Telephantasm of 2010.
Rage Against The Machine Rage lasted nine years in their first career period (forming in 1991 and breaking up in 2000) and, as always when a group splits, everyone wanted to know the drama behind it. Firebrand frontman Zack de la Rocha left the public with this note on October 18, 2000, "I feel that it is now necessary to leave Rage because our decision-making process has completely failed. It is no longer meeting the aspirations of all four of us collectively as a band, and from my perspective, has undermined our artistic and political ideal." The musical line-up of Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk famously went on to replace de la Rocha with Chris Cornell to form Audioslave; when that fell apart however, Zack returned to the Rage fold for a reunion in 2008 with a free gig in the UK at Finsbury Park and subsequent world tour.
The Jesus And Mary Chain Scottish alternative rock act, The Jesus and Mary Chain originally formed in 1983 and lasted until 1991. They weren’t wildly popular at first, playing one of their largest gigs in 1985 at the North London Polytechnic, but their influence has only grown since. In 2007 they reunited quite successfully, for the bill of American music festival Coachella and talks about new music arose. However, they have not released a studio album since their eighth record, Munki, in 1998. They have created a Best Of and B-side compilations to sustain fans while continuing their live streak, touring around a number of venues in the USA this year, stating they are not showcasing new music but instead sticking to the classics.
Smashing Pumpkins After attaining major critical and commercial success in the 90s, The Pumpkins spilt was made public by Billy Corgan on radio in 2000. They performed a four hour concert to farewell their fans in their hometown of Chicago, minus bassist D’Arcy Wretzky how had already left the band in 1999 to be replaced by Hole’s Melissa Auf der Maur. Following their split, and a failed solo album - Corgan started sound-alikes Zwan, featuring Pumpkins drummer, Jimmy Chamberlain; only to dismantle them for a Pumpkins reunion record in 2006, called Zeitgeist. Since then he’s used a revolving line-up that has seemed to settle with young drummer Mike Byrne, bassist Nicole Fiorentino and Jeff Schroeder. Corgan was insistent that the classic lineup would not reform, telling Rolling Stone: “that’s just one of those things that are never going to happen… the things that have happened between us in the interim haven’t been good. If it was bad before, it’s really bad now.” No kidding, Corgan has since lashed out at his former bandmates calling Chamberlain “a fucking liar” and of James Iha, “I think [he’s] just a piece of shit. I think he’s one of the worst human beings I’ve ever met in my life.”
Guns N Roses Easily one of music’s most famous rivalries is that of Slash and Axl Rose. It wasn’t always so complicated though… Following the release of their legacy-defining debut, Appetite for Destruction in 1987, which currently has sold around 28 million copies, Guns N’ Roses became one of the most iconic rock bands of their generation. By 1997 though, band megalomaniac Axl Rose began wresting control from the other band members one by one. Eventually replacing them all with a turnstile of replacement musicians and going into hibernation to write his epicly-gestating Chinese Democracy. It wouldn’t see the light of day until 2008, 17 years after initial recording sessions, by which time relations between Rose and his former bandmates – especially Slash – had completely disintegrated. When the LA band were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, Rose sent an open letter to the media ‘respectfully declining’ his induction, and attendance to the ceremony. More recently, Rose has been banning fans wearing Slash t-shirts from attending his concerts.
Talking Heads Beginning their influential career in 1975, Talking Heads remained intact until December 1991. Around this time, frontman David Byrne continued his solo career in earnest, while the remaining line-up of Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison briefly reunited for a one-off album called No Talking, Just Head under the pseudonym, The Heads. The record featured a number of well known guest vocalists, from artists such as Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes, and Michael Hutchence of INXS. During this time, Byrne took legal precautions to make sure that the name “Talking Heads” was no longer used by the other members, calling it “a pretty obvious attempt to cash in on the Talking Heads name.” The full line-up reconvened for their 2002 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where they played their songs, "Life During Wartime", "Psycho Killer" and "Burning Down the House". A full-fledged reunion tour however, remains unlikely. Bryne admitting, “we did have a lot of bad blood go down… musically we’re just miles apart.” While Weymouth criticised Byrne, describing him as “a man incapable of returning friendship.”
Led Zeppelin One of lock’s most legendary acts were essentially forced to call it quits in 1980, following the death of their drummer, the titanic John Bonham. The following two decades saw a few dalliances between the three remaining members, including The Honeydrippers in 1981, and the Zeppelin reworking of Page & Plant for No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded in 1994. Most famously though, in a rather shoddy turn for 1985’s Live Aid with Phil Collins on drums. Since that debacle (and maybe because of it) the band have remained adamant that they would not sully the memory of their fallen bandmate. Anticipation grew throughout the 00s as their music was continued to be repackaged and released, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the fabled reunion happened. With the original line-up fulfilling John Bonham’s role with his son, Jason, to perform a one-off concert at London’s O2 Arena for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert, in honour of the late Atlantic records label boss. The show still holds the world record for the “Highest Demand for Tickets for One Music concert”, with over 20 million requests honoured.
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