An obvious tendency
Old groups going back on stage
More and more groups which people had forgotten about, or which had split up,
are coming back together. These groups, which had a tremendeous success in the past and
had been separated for 5, 10 or even 20 years, are getting back on stage, pleasing their
fans. But what are the real reasons pushing them to return?
By Caroline Trudeau
The members of the Spice Girls, a popular British group formed in 1994 and
disbanded in 2001, announced lately that they would perform a world tour at the end of
this year. The Spice Girls is the female band who sold the most albums – 76 million
copies –, and all of this by releasing only three albums! We occasionally compared their
success to the Beatles’s. However, their beautiful story took a bad turn when, in 1998,
Geri Halliwell left the group during a tour because of the disagreements she had with
other members of the group. In 2001, the four remaining girls made an album entitled
Forever, which however did not have as much success as the two previous ones. The
group split up during that year, and each member attempted, with more or less
enthusiasms, to launch a solo career.
Six years later, they announced their return, after they all made peace with one
another. Are they returning for the pleasure, because they missed their partners and their
fans, or to take advantage of the media hype that surrounds them and thus to refill their
bank accounts? Is it a coincidence if that comeback happens now that Victoria Beckham
and her husband, the famous soccer player David Beckham, are more and more targetted
by the American paparazzis, that they finally confirmed that Eddie Murphy is the father
of Melanie Brown’s child and that the solo careers of the five girls are not going so well?
The Spice Girls got together on June 28, to announce their return in a press conference in
London. Spice Girls or… Old Spices ?
To follow the crowd
We will probably never know the exact reasons for the return of the Spice Girls,
but it seems to be some sort of fashion, because they are far from being the only ones to
act the same way. Before them, several old groups tried to reunite, and it worked well in
We can think of Rage Against The Machine, a group founded in the United States
in 1990. At the time, they quickly achieved huge success thanks to their namesake first
album and to their ideas of nonconformism. Then, the CD Evil Empire came out, which
rose to the first position of the American Billboard. In spite of the huge popularity of the
group, one of its members, Zack de la Rocha, announced his departure during the
conception of the third album and expressed his desire to undertake a solo career. The
group thus separated shortly after. But, what a surprise for the fans, the group came back
this year for the festival Coachella, which took place in California last April. This
reappearance was very noticed, particularly because of the anti-Bush views expressed by
Then there was Genesis, a very popular British rock'n roll group in the 70’s, 80’s
and 90’s, which had sold 150 million albums all around the world. The members of the
group just got back to work, 10 years after the launch of their latest CD, Calling All
Stations. The group is undertaking a tour of 21 shows.
Furthermore, we cannot skip Mötley Crüe, which was very popular in the 80’s.
The 90’s were more difficult for the group, because of the departure of Tommy Lee who
then undertook a solo career. He was replaced, but after that the group only had very little
success. In 2004, the members got back together in order to make a compilation and to
start a world tour. Curiously, the return of Tommy Lee coincided with the beginning of
his TV reality show, Tommy Lee Goes to College. The group also announced the release
of another album for 2008.
These were only three examples among tens of others: The Police, The Doors,
The Who, The Pixies, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Sex Pistols and, closer to us, Beau
For fun or for money ?
Most of these groups separated following conflicts, because of disagreements or
legal proceedings, or to undertake solo careers. Where is this sudden desire to re-form a
group which we did not want any more, to find each other beside people with whom we
did not get along anymore ? Part of the answer lies perhaps in the income. Indeed, the
solo careers are often less profitable for the artists. When they meet, most of the groups
are satisfied with doing a tour offering only their old hits in order to sell all their tickets.
These comebacks taking advantage of the media-hype, the sales of old albums increase
and the group has a full house, show after show. Rare are those who try, after re-forming
the group, to make a new album. Why create, when we can make money by capitalizing
on our fame?
The tour of Mötley Crüe, in 2005, would have made it possible for the group to
make 40 million dollars in only 22 concerts. The Rolling Stones however, are a different
case, for they never really split up. However, their tour, A Biger Band, in 2005, was very
profitable. It allowed them to amass 437 million dollars US and to attract an audience of
3,5 million people in 110 concerts. And all this in spite of the fact that the members are
all now in their sixties! In addition, Frank Blank, of the group Pixies, which re-formed in
2004 after 11 years of absence, would have affirmed that his band members and he had
come back together “only for the money”.
It happens sometimes that the comeback of a group takes place even if one of
their members is missing, either because he is dead or because there are still
disagreements within the group. Was it really to find themselves between old buddies that
the members of The Who decided to go on a tour together in spite of the absence of Keith
Moon, deceased in 1978, and of John Entwistle, who died more recently of an overdose?
And in 2002, the musicians of The Doors went back up on stage, but without their leader,
Jim Morrison. who incarnated the core of the band…
The age: a weight to be carried
Certain groups make a comeback on the musical scene after 10 years of absence,
sometimes a long time after having reached the heights of fame. The members of
Genesis, for example, are all in their fifties, whereas they were between 20 and 30 years
old when they became superstars. Can they still offer the same performance than before?
As for the Spice Girls, which are now in their thirties, they are all mothers, except for
Mel C. They thus are moving away somewhat from the image that they projected back
then. Consequently, the texts are likely to clash, not relating to the new reality of young
women… It is indeed difficult to imagine them singing the sentence who made them
famous: “I wanna really wanna zigazig ha”, taken from the Wannabe song. In regards to
the gentleman, rare are those who kept their size and their energy. Considering the
situation, it happens that the group does not come up to the expectations of the public.
In short, the years 2000 seems fertile in comebacks of old rock bands.
Unfortunately, these reunions appear to be more a question of money than a question of
pleasure. But nevermind: the public still demands for more. The artists fill the stadiums
with fans… already sure of getting what they were seeking for.