Classic Rock’s 5 Most Surprising Reconciliations
This week, Aerosmith kicked off its Global Warming Tour – a tour that, following Steven Tyler’s American Idol-inspired near-replacement in 2010, some thought might not happen. But Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry worked out their issues over Tyler’s Idol judging “sellout,” or are at least keeping them under control enough to hit and record the first Aerosmith record in eight years, due out this August. They’re not the first band to out the past aside and reconcile; actually, this isn’t even the first time they’ve done it, with Perry and guitarist Brad Whitford leaving Aerosmith for much of the early 1980s. Attribute it to the power of friendship, or maybe just the power of money, but even rock’s most bitter breakups have often resulted in reunions. Let’s take a look at the five most surprising reconciliations in the classic rock world.
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys are family, and with deep familial love comes extreme familial fighting. That’s exactly the dynamic between the Wilson brothers and their cousin Mike Love, who have taken their Beach Boys feuds to court on multiple occasions. The most prominent court case involved Brian Wilson’s 2004 release of his long-unfinished Beach Boys opus, SMiLE, which Love took issue with due to co-writing contributions that went uncredited/uncompensated and Wilson’s use of the Beach Boys name. They’ve put all that behind them this year, however, to celebrate 50 years of the band, complete with an international tour and a new record, That’s Why God Made The Radio. But as a recent Rolling Stone feature revealed, the band may be back together but Love and Wilson are both still stubborn about their ways, often traveling separately and each operating with their own backing band. Fun, fun, fun? Not so much.
Simon & Garfunkel
For a duo that made such introspective, folksy anthems, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel can be surprisingly cruel to each other. They’ve always been an on-again, off-again sort of band, breaking up in 1970 but often reuniting for performances together. That is, until the early ’80s, when things went sour on their big reunion record. Simon’s solution was erase Garfunkel’s vocals from the album and release it as his own, 1983’s Hearts and Bones. The spat came to a head publicly at the duo’s 1990 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony: “I want to thank most of all the person who has most enriched my life by putting these great songs through me: My friend Paul here,” Garfunkel said. With a smirk splashed across face, Simon retorted: “Arthur and I agree about almost nothing. But it’s true, I have enriched his life quite a bit, now that I think about it.” Fast forward 11 years, to Simon’s solo induction to the Rock Hall: “I want to thank Art Garfunkel and say that I regret the ending of our friendship, and I hope that some day before we die we will make peace with each other,” Simon said before adding, “No rush.” Two years later, the duo did make peace for their Old Friends tour and performances at the Grammys and one-off concerts. Another Simon & Garfunkel tour was planned for 2010 but had to be canceled due to Garfunkel’s vocal cord paresis.
Roger Waters may have been the mastermind behind many of Pink Floyd’s lyrics and conceptual ideas (The Wall ? Yep. Those flying pigs? Yep.), a judge ruled against him in a legal battle over the use of Pink Floyd’s name. Amidst Floyd members’ solo albums, Waters deemed Pink Floyd “a spent force” and subsequently quit in the mid 1980s. David Gilmour and Nick Mason did not agree and chose to move forward without Waters under the Pink Floyd name – hence Waters’ lawsuit. “I am an extremely stubborn person,” Gilmour told Rolling Stone at the time. “I will not be forced out of something I consider to be partly mine.” Yet at 2005’s Live 8 benefit, Waters and Gilmour buried the hatchet and performed a four-song set. In 2011, Gilmour and Mason, the surviving Floyd members, joined Roger Waters on stage at a London date on his tour. Consider Pink Floyd’s reconciliation a “when pigs fly” moment.
In 1985, David Lee Roth left Van Halen, the band he had helped found when he was practically a kid. The reason cited was personal tension, and DLR embarked on a solo career. But by 1996, his replacement Sammy Hagar was out, Roth was rumored to be back in, and fans were enthralled. Then the 1996 MTV VMAs happened, and Roth’s onstage antics while the original members of Van Halen were presenting an award to Beck forced Eddie Van Halen to change his mind about the potential of a full-blown reunion. He still couldn’t deal with Roth’s theatrics – and probably still can’t, but alas, the band reunited in 2007 for one of their most successful tours to date. The band, sans original bassist Michael Anthony, has stayed together since the 2007 tour, and this spring released A Different Kind of Truth, their first new album with Roth since 1984. The band recently post-poned a slew of tour dates, but they say they’re getting along famously and attribute the post-ponement to biting off more than they could chew.
Ever wonder why the Eagles’ massive comeback tour in the mid-’90s was titled Hell Freezes Over? Because that’s what drummer/vocalist Don Henley publicly said when asked when the Eagles would reunite. One of the most commercially successful bands ever, the Eagles have always been fraught with fighting – oftentimes over money. Fourteen years earlier, America’s biggest rock band had imploded at a concert in Long Beach, guitarists Glenn Frey and Don Felder trading violent on-stage threats. To fulfill their record contract, the band put together live album Eagles Live shortly after the Long Beach incident, and that was it. But their subsequent success from the ’90s until now has seen its fair share of drama, again involving Felder, who sued Eagles principles Frey and Henley in 2001 after he was fired from the band.
- Jillian Mapes, CBS Local