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Everybody loves a happy ending

March 2021

It’s disappointing to hear musician Sting express his regret at having re-grouped with Stuart Copeland and Andy Summers, his bandmates with the New Wave band The Police for a reunion tour back in 2007-2008.

Sting was quoted in a recent interview with Reader’s Digest, saying, “At the time I labelled the tour an exercise in nostalgia,” adding that “If I thought that would be the emotion I’d be leaving with, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place.”

Although I didn’t get to see that tour, I am a music fan, and I can guarantee the fans felt differently.

There are several reasons why music fans call for reunion tours of their favourite bands, either ones who have broken-up, or for a reunion of original or “classic” line-ups. Some simply want to re-live their youth, while others may want to experience something they missed back in the day.

Some fans may feel they didn’t get a proper goodbye from the band, especially for ones that break-up very suddenly and unexpectedly.

For bands that had acrimonious splits, having the formerly warring bandmates put their differences aside and reunite, even if it’s explicitly stated that it will only be a temporary reunion, as was the case with The Police, it can be a nice way for the band to go out on a high note; for their to be that happy ending that everyone loves. That’s one reason why it was great to see The Police back together.

That’s also the biggest reason why music fans were so delighted to see Pink Floyd members Dave Gilmore, Rick Wright and Nick Mason reunite with original bass guitarist Roger Waters at the Live 8 concert in 2005. It was considered by many to be the highlight of the whole concert event.

Even though they were on-stage for only 23 minutes and only played four songs, and even though there was no intention of any further work together, it was great to see all four on stage together for the first time since 1981. There had been such bad-blood between Roger Waters and the rest of the band in the wake of his departure in 1985, with Waters declaring Pink Floyd a “spent force,” and suing the others to prevent them from performing under that name, it was something that fans of Pink Floyd thought would never happen.

As it turned out, it would be the last chance the “classic four” would have to reunite, as Rick Wright died of cancer just three years later. It would be something another Fab Four would never get.

The Beatles were just one of many bands that broke up with a lot of acrimony, with John Lennon and Paul McCartney trading barbs at each other in the press and in some songs in the years after the band’s 1970 break-up. Although Paul would reunite with George Harrison and Ringo Starr temporarily in 1994 to complete two songs originally recorded by John as demos, “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” it would happen 14 years after John was murdered.

Although George Harrison died of cancer in 2001, Paul and Ringo still occasionally perform together on-stage, but just for a song or two, and never as The Beatles.

Sometimes bands break-up due to the death of a member, like Led Zeppelin. Nirvana, and Joy Division. Under those circumstances, there is often a feeling of unfinished business amongst the fans, if not the members themselves. It’s one reason why fans of Led Zeppelin have called out for over 40 years now for Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones to reunite as Led Zeppelin for a full tour. The three have performed together together on four different occasions, and Plant and Page did reunite as a duo for two albums and one tour, a full tour as Led Zeppelin has never materialized.

Plant has been quite clear that his primary focus is continuing with his solo career, rather than re-visiting the past.

Fans of Progressive Rock band Genesis have also wanted to see a reunion of the 1970s Peter Gabriel-led line-up. Although Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Steve Hackett and Gabriel have remained on good terms, anything other than a set with Gabriel in 1982 to support of Gabriel’s WOMAD Festival, and again in 1999 to record an updated version of their 1974 song, “The Carpet Crawlers,” a full-blown reunion has been hard to come by so far.

When Collins, Rutherford and Banks decided to reunite in 2006 for a tour, over a decade after Collins left the band, the trio proposed that Hackett and Gabriel join them. Unfortunately, Gabriel was unwilling to commit, so the trio reunited with their long-time touring members guitarist Daryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson instead.

Apparently, it’s not a priority for Gabriel to spend much time revisiting the past either.

The surviving members of Nirvana, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear, have reunited on several occasions, to the delight of fans and quite obviously themselves too. Seeing as Grohl and Smear are busy with their current band Foo Fighters, it’s understandable that there will likely never be a full tour any time in the future.

While the surviving members of Joy Division, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris, carried on together after the death of singer Ian Curtis in 1980, the did it by forming a new band, New Order. However, by 2007, Peter Hook was out of the band and the bad feelings with the remaining members, including keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, still exists today. Many New Order fans would no doubt love to see Hook back in the band, if he and Sumner could bury the hatchet.

While reunions always make the fans happy, sometimes it doesn’t make the band members happy, and old acrimony and disputes can re-surface.

While rock band KISS never broke up, founding members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley quit the band in 1980 and 1982 respectively. In 1995, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons invited Criss and Frehley to play four songs with the current line-up of the band at their MTV Unplugged show. This seemingly one-off reunion led to a full-fledged reunion the following year.

In typical bombastic KISS fashion, the reunion was officially announced at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards, with the four original members surprising the unsuspecting audience by appearing on-stage, in full make-up and “Love Gun”-era costumes, more than a decade after the band shed both.

A reunion album followed in 1997, although it later emerged that Criss and Frehley’s contributions to the album were minimal. By early 2004, both were out of the band again. Both it turned out, had been reinstated on limited-time contracts, and Stanley and Simmons had little interest in restoring both as full partners in the band.

New wave/pop band Duran Duran famously reunited their “Fab-Five” line-up in 2001, 16 years after guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor walked away from the band, and 4 years after founding member and bass guitarist John Taylor quit. Like with KISS, the magic didn’t last as Andy Taylor was fired in 2006. According to Taylor, his firing was due to a combination of management problems, problems recording their ill-fated “Reportage” album, and old acrimonies and bitterness resurfacing.

Other than Pink Floyd, one of the most famous reunions was the Eagles in 1994, when Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Don Felder, and Timothy Schmit, got back together again, 14-years after their final concert, when Frey and Felder ended the show throwing punches at each other.

Their reunion album was titled “Hell Freezes Over,” a humourous reference to a quote from Henley, who once stated that the Eagles would get back together when Hell froze over.

When the bitterness between Frey and Felder boiled over again in 2001, Felder was fired from the band.

One band that did get back together and have stayed together is Tears For Fears. The new wave/pop band was one of the biggest bands in the 1980s, but in 1991, principle members Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith had a very acrimonious split. Orzabal carried on with two new collaborators as Tears For Fears, but the band was now essentially an Orzabal solo project.

By 2000, when it appeared that Orzabal was ready to formally put an end to Tears For Fears, he and Smith reunited and have been together ever since. They released an album in 2004, appropriately titled, “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending”.

Source: Reader’s Digest UK – April 2021 Digital Magazine from Magzter – World’s Largest Digital Newsstand

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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