Every band has a different reason for splitting and every band, it seems, has a different reason for getting back together and re-igniting the musical flames. Sometimes it’s cash, sometimes it simply the burning desire to re-kindle their youth. Often, there’s some unfinished artistic business to attend to. But whatever the reason, a reunion concert is always something special for the audience. Here are 10 of the most memorable.
10. The Monkees: 1986
In 1967, Davy, Micky, Peter and Mike sold more records than The Beatles. The pre-fab four’s TV sitcom won an Emmy, they brought the world Jimi Hendrix, gave career breaks to Tim Buckley and Jack Nicholson and then split soon after the TV show was cancelled. In 1986, with MTV playing the heck out of the old TV shows, The Monkees went back on the road, re-creating the original lineup just once, when Michael Nesmith made a surprise appearance on stage on Los Angeles.
9. The Sex Pistols: 1996
Maybe the most unlikely (and surprisingly good) reunion tour came via Johnny Rotten/Lydon and the Sex Pistols. Twenty years after their one-album career revolutionized the music world, they took the cash for a reunion, called it the Filthy Lucre tour and then reminded the world why they were so much more than the voice of anarchy. They were one of Britain’s greatest live bands of all time. Just watch.
8. Pink Floyd: 2005
The classic lineup of the legendary progressive rock band Pink Floyd (Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason) put acrimony on the back burner for Bob Geldof’s Live 8 to perform together on stage for the first time since 1981. The veteran musicians breezed effortlessly through “Speak to Me,” “Breathe / Breathe (Reprise),” “Money,” “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb” like they’d never been away.
7. The Police: 2007
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hit song “Roxanne,” The Police opted to reunite one more time for a mega world tour. Sting’s solo success after the band’s groundbreaking post-’70s punk-pop reign didn’t stop him dusting off the old bass and joining Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland for one more series of dates. The first concert took place in Vancouver, Canada on May 28, 2007 in front of 22,000 ecstatic fans.
6. Blur: 2009
The thinking man’s Britpop band called it quits in 2003 and, with main man Damon Albarn reinventing himself quite successfully with Gorillaz, it was a surprise when Blur reformed for concerts in 2009. On June 15 the group performed a supposedly secret gig at Rough Trade Records London’s Brick Lane to promote and mark the release of a new Blur compilation, Midlife: A Beginners Guide to Blur. At the end of the month they headlined Glastonbury to universally impressive reviews.
5. The Pixies: 2004
Pixies history was made on April 13, 2004 at The Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering put differences aside and reunited for not just this stunning show but a full-blown tour. In fact, their subsequent four-night run at London’s Brixton Academy was the fastest-selling gig in the venue’s history. The band grossed over $14 million from concerts in 2004.
4. The Everly Bros: 1983
It had been a decade since rock and roll greats the Everly Brothers had disbanded during a concert in California. But guitar hero Albert Lee, a pal of both Phil and Don, endeavored for years to get them back together. He finally did his job and on September 23, 1983, the Everly Brothers played the Royal Albert Hall in London and re-kick-started their career.
3. Buffalo Springfield: 2010
With key members of Buffalo Springfield (Stills and Young) enduring a volatile relationship since the band’s ‘60s heyday, a reunion always seemed most unlikely. But this October, the surviving original Springfield members reunited for a concert at Young’s Bridge School Benefit. Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay performed classic tracks like “On the Way Home” and “For What It’s Worth” for the first time since 1968.
2. Black Sabbath: 1997
Black Sabbath welcomed Ozzy back. They’d fired him for drunken and outrageous behavior many moons before, but time heals all rock and roll wounds. In 1997, original members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne officially reunited to co-headline Ozzy’s Ozzfest tour. Mike Bordin from Ozzy’s band filled in for the initially unavailable original drummer Bill Ward. But in December 1997, Bill Ward returned and the original band recorded two shows in their home town of Birmingham, England. The resultant album, Reunion, went platinum in the U.S.
1. Led Zeppelin: 2007
Nobody though it could happen, but in 2007 Led Zeppelin did indeed reunite for a benefit concert in December with Jason Bonham replacing his legendary father on drums. Zeppelin’s appearance at London’s O2 Arena was due to the band’s regard for Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, for whom this concert was a benefit show.