On New Year's Eve 2009, Chris Cornell made a Twitter declaration: “School's back in session.” The implication was that Soundgarden was reuniting. However, it took several months for the official announcement. The grunge pioneers would be putting aside their well-documented differences to play their first show in 14 years at Lollapalooza 2010.
Now, with the veteran rockers set to play The Forum Friday night, we were reminded that not all reunions go according to plan. In fact, there have been some groups that, believe it or not, either tarnished their legacy or, in other cases, should have known that things wouldn't end well.
Here, the Ten Groups Who Never Should Have Gotten Back Together:
10. A Tribe Called Quest, 2004, 2006, 2008:
As demonstrated in the incredible Michael Rapaport documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, Tribe had their fair share of problems on their 2008 run while performing at Rock The Bells.
Phife Dawg wasn't able to move like he used to, which was perfectly understandable considering he had diabetes and needed a life-saving kidney transplant. It was also just for the money–not necessarily the best reason for a group to get back together.
Bitter feelings from the 1998 split remained and before the San Francisco leg of the tour, the old anger between Q-Tip and Phife came to a head. The backstage incident nearly resulted in blows over the confrontation that could have been sidestepped had cooler heads prevailed.
Though this wasn't nearly as awful as some of the others on the list, Tribe deserves this ranking with an asterisk due to the fact that they owe Jive one more record and if they somehow need money down the road and do in fact record that album, their legacy will go the way of some of the remaining bands on this list.
9. Stone Temple Pilots, Too many to list
Sheesh where to begin? As Adam Sandler famously said about Bob Dylan in his second “Chanukah Song,”
Bob Dylan was born a Jew
Then he wasn't
But now he's back
That is the best way to describe the legacy of STP.
Originally breaking up (or going on hiatus, in the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “it all depends on your point of view”) in 1996, the brothers DeLeo formed Talk Show, a most regretful outfit that had them crawling back to their charismatic, drug-addled frontman, whose solo effort didn't fair much better.
Reuniting in 1999 and releasing one sorta good song (“Sour Girl”) from two albums, STP called it quits again in 2003 due the same issues as before (Weiland's drug problems and fighting with Dean DeLeo).
It seemed as if the band went their separate ways when Weiland joined Velvet Revolver (a tragedy in its own right, but that's a different story), but the San Diego rockers didn't get the hint and reunited yet again in 2008. Had they broken up in 1996, or even the second time, they would have been fine. But in the case of STP, the third time simply wasn't the charm.
8. Fleetwood Mac, 1993:
Just because Bill Clinton asks you to play at his inaugural ball doesn't means you should attempt to put aside years or strife and say yes. But that's what one of the most volatile (in the sense that everyone was fucking each other, literally and figuratively) splits in the history of music did.
The only things the reunion produced were mediocre albums (to put it kindly), a waste of baby-boomers' time (unless you count the ones who were stoked fork over hundreds of dollars on a blatant money grab by the band), countless “reunion” tours that lack the punch from their original disbandment, and demolishing the incredible legacy that Rumours gave them.
7. Sex Pistols, 1996:
Had the blokes from 1977 seen these codgers on stage 19 years later, they would have kicked these dudes' asses.
Although Sid Vicious isn't to blame (after all, he is long departed), Johnny Rotten and company went on the Filthy Lucre World Tour, which fortunately for the masses was brief due the garbage that emanated from the stage. This tour took a lot of shine off the legacy of what some consider the greatest British punk band of all time.
6. The Beatles (sort of), 1995:
Though there were the only three living members of the Fab Four, they got together to rehash some old memories (and sell a new anthology and spawn a VERY expensive book) on some garbage B-sides that should have, well, remained B-sides.
Paul, George and Ringo should have left things as they were because if John were alive, this shit wouldn't have went down.
5. Velvet Underground, 1993:
YIKES, there's no dancing around this disaster, but for some reason, history has forgotten this regrettable mess.
There's not much to say about this one except without Nico (who died in 1988), the Velvet's old problems bubbled to the surface faster than you could say “produced by Andy Warhol.”
Always a volatile mix of individuals, it didn't take long for the band's old animosities to resurface (and at record speed) when the always friendly Lou Reed fell out with viola player/bassist John Cale during sessions for a new album, shocking considering how things played the first go-round. History has treated the Velvet's well for the most part, but that 1993 reunion was unwise.
4. Van Halen, 2004:
After six years of doing nothing, the Van Halen boys from Pasadena reunited with Sammy Hagar to record a new album and go on a subsequent tour (if you read Hagar's autobiography, you know what happened with that non-existent album). This tour was mistake from the jump (ironic since the opening song on this tour was, yes, you guessed it, “Jump”).
Eddie Van Halen's well-documented battle with the bottle hit its peak on this tour, leaving the many fans (and Hagar for that matter) wondering why they decided to tour in the first place. This tour was such a debacle that Hagar not only quit the band, but took bassist Michael Anthony with him (though it doesn't seem like he was much of a member at that point anyway), leaving the band in rubble and thus pissing off whatever fans they had left at the time.
3. The Doors of the 21st Century, 2002:
We will defend our pal John Densmore here and boldly claim that this was one of the biggest travesties in the history of music.
Wisely, Densmore didn't want to ruin the legacy of the greatest band to come from this city and sat out this ill-advised, even more badly planned “reunion” of Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek, along with Ian Astbury (playing the part of Jim Morrison) and a clearly bored Stewart Copeland (playing the part of Densmore). By being a glorified cover band, yet doing so while hiding under The Doors name, Krieger and Manzarek pretty much took a dump on what The Doors stood for and Jim Morrison rolled over in his grave.
2. Queen + Paul Rodgers, 2004:
When the incredible charisma and pipes of Freddie Mercury left for the other world when he died tragically of AIDS in 1991, the band should have as well.
But it wasn't enough for Brian May and Roger Taylor, who decided to piss on the band's legacy by going on tour with former Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers. Though a good singer in his own right, Rodgers was setup for failure because, simply put, Queen ain't Queen unless there's Freddie Mercury.
Since they haven't yet figured out a way to resurrect dead people, there was no reason Queen to reform, that is unless you count the millions upon millions of fans they fooled into going to their gigs over a five-year span. The band should be arrested for deception and thievery.
And last but not least …
1. Van Halen, 1996:
A classic case of he said, he said.
Though the rumors were bubbling at the time (yes, there was a rumor mill before the Internet exploded, hard to imagine), VH, which had parted ways with Hagar not too long before, had laid down new tracks for a greatest hits package that featured original lead singer David Lee Roth.
At the 1996 MTV Music Awards, the crowd exploded when they saw the band and Roth reunite publicly for the first time in 11 years to present an award. However, Roth's old antics (making himself the star of the show, though Beck won the award), along with the fact that the brothers Van Halen were still auditioning other lead singers, led to acrimonious breakup number two. This was despite the fact that, according to the brothers, Roth wasn't in the band again to begin with.
Eddie Van Halen would later explain that he had initially been embarrassed by Roth's antics while on camera behind Beck. Immediately following this, the band went to a backstage press conference (always a wise decision when you have a pissed off EVH), in which Roth was unsurprisingly uncooperative, and refused to answer questions about the details of the new project and went back to his grandstanding ways. Following another cold exchange, the two almost came to blows, and the shortest reunion in the history of reunions went kaput.
What should have been one of the greatest moments in the history of rock ended up bring up sour feelings that ended the band in the first place and thus, is the worst conceived idea for a reunion since all parties knew what they were getting into in the first place.
Writer's Note: Though Roth and Van Halen allegedly settled their differences enough for a 2007 reunion, the band is NOT the original since Eddie thought it would be brilliant to leave out Anthony and replace him with his son, Wolfgang. Though a fine bassist and backing singer in his own right, it truly isn't Van Halen without Anthony, a fact that seems to not matter to the parties involved as long as those promoter checks keep clearing.