The Best Comeback Stories In Music History
There are no secrets behind the closed doors of the rock star lifestyle. Notoriously fueled by sex, drugs, and rock and roll, we’ve seen many iconic bands and musicians fall victim to their vices and ultimately lead to their death or the demise of their bands. There are also bands whose ego simply got the best of them and they slowly fade away and are forgotten. However, there are some bands that managed to rise from the ashes and re-establish themselves in the music scene, acquiring new fans while satisfying their loyal following. Here are those that bounced back in a big way for the most epic comebacks in music.
AC/DC’s Lead Singer Found Dead
In 1979, rock band AC/DC released their album Highway to Hell and rocketed them to celebrity status, and was their biggest success at the time. Unfortunately, six months after its release, lead singer Bon Scott was found dead in the back of a car after choking on his own vomit. After some soul-searching, the band decided to continue making music and recruited Brian Johnson as a new lead singer. Although Johnson felt he could not fill Scott’s shows, he went on to write the song “Hells Bells” the opening track to their comeback album and the second-highest selling album of all time, Back in Black.
Johnny Cash Lost His Sound
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From the time of his debut, Johnny Cash was a popular artist. Even when he wasn’t releasing any new music, people were satisfied listening to his old tunes. Yet, during the 1980’s, sales at his record label Columbia were at an all-time low. This forced Cash to release some new music that fans felt wasn’t up to par. That included his cover of Creedence Clearwater’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” or his album Rainbow. By the ’90s Cash no longer had a record label. Then, in 1994, Rick Ruben offered Cash a contract with his label American Recordings. He helped to bring Cash back to his old sound, and he returned back to the limelight.
The U2 Album Fans Hated
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Since U2 was essentially unstoppable during the 1990’s, they decided to experiment with their sound a little bit. Following the hit album Zooropa, in 1997, they released Pop, which was techno and electronic influenced. The change blindsided and startled the fans who were not amused with the new sound of the band they once loved. Realizing their mistake, in 2000, they came out with All That You Can’t Leave Behind returning to their old, yet improved sound with hard-hitting melodies and emphasis on guitar, bass, and drums. The fans forgave the band after its release, and this comeback album is considered to be in their top three best of all time.
Dave Grohl Depressed By Kurt Cobain’s Death
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After the death of Nirvana‘s frontman Kurt Cobain, the band’s drummer Dave Grohl was lost. However, he wasn’t going to let this tragedy stop him from doing what he loves: making music. Grohl attempted to start his own new band called the Foo Fighters in which he played all of the instruments himself. This was a rough transition after playing for potentially the biggest band in the world. However, he kept at it, and after acquiring an actual band, the Foo Fighters went on to become one of the most uplifting stadium-sized rock bands of the recent years.
Aerosmith Gets Help From Run DMC
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After their heyday in the ’70s with albums such as Toys in the Attic, in the early ’80s, it almost looked as though Aerosmith was going to be another band that had their moment and was forgotten over time. Yet, they managed to come back with the help of their collaboration with Run DMC and two new albums. Run DMC helped to establish the group as MTV stars, as well as helped them come out with multiple single hits. Next, their album Permanent Vacation, and 1989’s Pump both went platinum numerous times. Pump also became their second best-selling album of all time behind Toys in the Attic.
Ozzy Osborne Fired From Black Sabbath
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After a few underwhelming albums from the grandfather of rock and roll band Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osborne decided he wanted to work on a new project he called “Blizzard of Ozz”. Sabbath managed to convince him to come back and record the album Never Say Die! However, due to drug abuse and inner-tension in the band, Osborne was eventually fired. This gave him the opportunity to work on his new project, and with new management, he came out with Blizzard of Ozz. The release of this new individual project hoisted him back into the music scene and re-established him as a powerhouse in rock and roll.
Elvis Presley Had To Go Back To Memphis
Even The King Of Rock And Roll had a stumble and a comeback during his lifetime. Elvis Presley had a little-publicised low point in his career during the 1960’s. He was becoming known for writing cheap soundtracks that weren’t even comparable to his previous works. Eventually, Presley moved back to his hometown to record a new album in Memphis which he hadn’t done since his start. The result of the time he spent in his hometown recording was From Elvis in Memphis in 1969. This album has been considered his best album of all time, peaking at 13 on the Billboard 200.
John Lennon’s Hiatus
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After a separation from Yoko Ono, a lawsuit, and an essentially failed album Shaved Fish, John Lennon made the decision in 1977 to lay low and live a private life in New York with Ono and his then 1-year old son. However, after several years, Lennon felt compelled to make music again and was inspired by the bands at the time such as the B-52s, The Pretenders, and Madness. Alongside his wife, he came out with Double Fantasy in 1980. It was a new and fresh sound, exactly what you would expect from a musician coming out of hibernation, and after some time was well received by the public.
Metallica Went Mainstream
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After the success and attitude of albums such as Ride the Lightning, Metallica had a hard time finding their footing at the turn of the century. Their music was being used in films, people were learning how to steal music, and albums such as Some Kind of Monster left their fans feeling betrayed. Then, in 2008, the band came out with Death Magnetic and proved to themselves and their fans that they were still the angry, in-your-face metal band that they once were. The album was a hit, they began having success touring again, and some of the songs can still be heard on the radio today.
The Decade Without David Bowie
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David Bowie‘s success throughout his career is no secret. Yet, after a heart attack in 2004, he kept low for almost a decade. Then, in January 2013, he surprised the world when he suddenly released a new single “Where Are We Now?” Bowie then dropped the album The Next Day which was his first chart-topper in 20 years. The album also aided in making his exhibition featuring his work and prized items at the Victoria And Albert Museum record-breaking. This new 2013 album also helped to set up for his new musical Lazarus, as well as his final album Blackstar right before his death.
Bruce Springsteen’s Call To Action
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In the 1990’s, Bruce Springsteen was having a hard time finding any real success with E Street Band and during that time they didn’t end up releasing any albums. Bruce even tried to make a few studio albums on his own, but those are considered to be the weakest of his musical career. After 9/11 happened, Springsteen came out with The Rising, his best collection of songs in well over a decade, and people were listening to Springsteen once again. The album debut at #1 on the Billboard 200, won a Grammy for the Best Rock Album in 2003 and was nominated for Album of the Year. Quite the comeback by Springsteen.
Iron Maiden’s Lead Singer Goes Solo
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During the early 90’s, there was serious inner-conflict within Iron Maiden regarding the lead singer Bruce Dickson and the rest of the band. This then caused Dickson to leave Iron Maiden in 1993, which was celebrated by the band. However, with their new lead singer Blaze Bayley, the band was struggling and was on a clear decline. So, in 1999, six years later, the band made a semi-truce with Dickson and restored him back as lead singer. They then went on to release Brave New Wolrd which sold millions of records and was followed by a record-breaking world tour.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Tragic Plane Crash In 1977
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In 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd was at the peak of its success after selling one million copies of their album Street Survivors and a huge arena tour coming up. Unfortunately, in October, the band was in a plane crash which killed the lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer, Cassie Gaines. Several other of the band members also suffered serious injuries. For a decade, the band separated and was not heard from. They then reformed in 1978 with Van Zant’s brother as the lead singer, went on tour and showed the world that they were still Lynyrd Skynyrd. Since then, their two most recent albums have been their most successful since their pre-crash success.
Dr. Dre Keeps Fans Waiting… And Waiting…
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In 1999, renowned hip-hop artist Dr. Dre released his second LP 2001. After that, he disappeared for almost 15 years without providing any new material. So, when his supposed comeback record Compton was announced, many fans were questioning if it would be able to live up to his past works. However, when the album was finally released, fans were thrilled. The album had all of the production techniques and lyrical flow that people loved Dr. Dre for in the first place, securing Dr. Dre as still one of the best rappers in the hip-hop scene.
Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken: A Tribe Called Quest
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In 1998, A Tribe Called Quest released their last album The Love Movement before breaking up as a band. Q-Tip and Phife each wanted to make a name for themselves and tried to start their solo careers. Yet, in 2016, they made a return after almost 20 years and released the album Here…Thank You 4 Your Service. The record has been described as staying true to the group’s original and unique sound and lyricism that made them famous in the first place. Fans were happy not only to get new music from the group after almost 20 years, but they were also happy because it was the same A Tribe Called Quest sound that they fell in love with. The album even reached a top spot on the Billboard 200 and set the record for the longest gap between two number 1 albums from a hip-hop group.
Nas’ Flame Flickered Out
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In 1994, hip-hop rapper Nas debuted with his first album Illmatic. People were so impressed by this record that there were rumors that Nas was the next big thing. Unfortunately, that was the peak of his success as he released a slew of incredibly disappointing albums. During that time, it looked like Nas was going to go belly-up and go down as a failure in hip-hop history. However, in 2001, after a beef with Jay Z, Nas came out with Stillmatic, which proved his once-fans wrong. The album earned a “5 Mic” rating from The Source Magazine, and Nas and Jay-Z even made amends.
Bob Dylan Lost His Voice
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During the 1960’s and ’70s Bob Dylan was an artist who appeared to be all over the place. He built a reputation for coming out with either amazing or terrible music. It was a coin toss. Especially in the ’70s during his experimentation with gospel music, his albums became particularly bad. Also, around that time, he lost his voice so everyone assumed that was the end of Bob Dylan. But then, in 1997, he came out with Time Out of Mind which showed the world that he hadn’t gone anywhere. Although his voice isn’t the same as it was, his songwriting was on point, and he made the voice work with the album.
The Fourth Time Is The Charm: Deep Purple
After Deep Purple decided to fire two of its original members in the late 1860’s and early 70’s. The new and improved Deep Purple was then known as the “MK II lineup” and released a series of hit albums including Deep Purple in Rock, Made in Japan, and Machine Head. Eventually, however, this lineup slowly faded away and died. The band tried to revive itself with another lineup and failed again. Then, in 1984 the Mark II lineup reformed and released the album Perfect Strangers which went platinum, had numerous radio hits and led to a seemingly endless tour.
Black Sabbath Proves They Still Know How To Rock
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The last time that Black Sabbath played and wrote a studio album together with the original frontman Ozzy Osborne was almost 45 years ago on the record Never Say Die! After such an extended separation, they came back together and in 2013 released the album 13. The album was a revitalization of the band’s original sound and was very well received by the fans. The album proved that the band still had the vigor and the attitude it was known for, with little to no hints of a decline in musicianship. All in all, the album helped to put Black Sabbath back on the map after such a long time of the original band being dormant.
Writer’s Block Took Down My Bloody Valentine
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My Bloody Valentine was a popular band from Dublin that ran into trouble when they tried to build their own studio in 1992. Technical problems led to frustration and writer’s block, and the band fell apart. It was 22 years after the release of their 1991 album Loveless when My Bloody Valentine came out of retirement with their new record MBV in 2013. During this gap in albums, fans had given up hope and figured that they would never hear any more new music by the band. Yet, overnight, the band released the album which is reminiscent of the band’s previous work. Music critics hold the album in high regard while fans get their fill of experimental rock. Not only did this album pleasantly surprise old fans, but it also helped My Bloody Valentine acquire some new younger fans as well.