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Fall of Big Bands : Why do the Rock bands fall apart?

Forming a great Rock band and having a world tour, many of us had one common fantasy at our teenage years. But forming a band is not that easy! It’s not just about learning to play musical instruments only. It’s all about finding right the people, putting up together, doing music and to be as a “band.”

And when a band done with all the hard works and finally learned to stay together, they don’t stay together! It happened so many times before and it started since the birth of band movement. It is still happening and it will continue to happen for the future as well…


Why do the Rock bands fall apart?


Artistic differences, it’s the most “cliche” case, the number one killer in the music business; it breaks up a band fast. Indifference in musical taste can lead a band to demise. Some bands fail because individual band members like or like to create different music.


Solo career venture, is another smasher of bands. Every once in a while; the most talented member(s) of the band moves to solo career. In most case, both the band (if they survive) and the solo artist failed to success because the magic of the band is gone.


Ego between band members is the notorious band-killer; it breaks up a band fast as well. It mostly started when one member begins to get much more attention than the rest.


That green thing call “money”! Lack of financial incentive can break a band hard too. It can happen the other way around, too much money can rip off a band as well!


Outside influences! A band is much like a business partnership. Members should spend as much time together as possible. It takes lot of patient to build a band, members should be committed to the band, but not everyone can truly commit themselves to a Rock N’ Roll lifestyle. Also, simultaneous projects or own more than one band can really ruin a band.


And last never the least, “tragedy” or we can say “ripped apart by untimely death.” Freak accident, sickness and most infamously drug abuse ends a good band. We can’t do much about the first two but we can always do a lot about the last cause! It’s the saddest way to end.


Sometimes Rock bands break up simply because it’s bound to meet its ill fate whether it is a Folk, Glam Rock, Punk, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, New Wave or Grunge!!


Some Rock bands enjoy commercial success with a definite beginning. When the Folk Rock sound became popular in the early to mid 60s, there were a number of groups like the Byrds, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Mamas & the Papas and Buffalo Springfield. They all enjoyed several years of popularity. But by the late 60s many of these groups had disbanded or reformed as more progressive entities.


Whether they broke up as the result of artistic differences or by tragedy, these are few major bands when and how they called it a quits…


The Beatles was world’s number one band in 60s and 70s and one of the earliest famous bands to be disbanded. Simply because they were all so fabulous and their ego became sky high!

The Yardbirds had survived four phrases with three most influential guitarists! Starting with Eric Clapton, then he handed the axe to faithful Jeff Beck, then Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page duo and in the last days with Jimmy Page before he formed Led Zeppelin, all during 1963–1968.

Led Zeppelin’s fate was shortened by unplanned breakup in 1980 upon the alcohol-related death of drummer John Bonham. His fierce rhythm in the band was iconic for the band! The remaining band members’ decided to disband was undoubtedly the right one, even as other bands like the Who and AC/DC survived after similar losses.

Cream was a mighty Blues Rock Trio led by Eric Clapton as well. They disbanded for solo ventures!

Black Sabbath was formed in late 60s; the Heavy Metal band that suffered from drugs, personal differences, musical inconsistencies and finally broke up the original lineup in 1979, sending frontman Ozzy Osbourne off to a successful solo career while Sabbath soldiered on with Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes and several other frontmen. The original lineup reunited in 1997 and worked on and off during the next decade. The word is, they are reunited again and doing an album!

Deep Purple; was formed in late 60s, their 2nd lineup in early 70s commonly labeled as “Mark II” with frontman Ian Gillan, it was Rock’s one of the most successful band. Gillan did quit eventually, he was replaced by David Coverdale (Whitesnake) and Glenn Hughes, they recorded two great albums together in 1974, but then lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore quit as well, eventually the band broke up in 1976. While Ritchie formed Rainbow in 1976 with frontman Ronnie James Dio for few years, then recruited Graham Bonnet and lastly with Joe Lynn Turner. With ever changing band members Rainbow was quiet famous, but Ritchie disbanded it and decided to regroup with Deep Purple once again in 1984. Again, Gillan quit briefly in 1990 and they recruited Joe Lynn Turner for one album. Gillan again returned and record one album in 1993 with Ritchie playing last for the band. They did survived till now but it isn’t the “Mark II” anymore and now there’s no chance we will see that again, since their keyboardist Jon Lord died this year.

Pink Floyd; the Psychedelic and Progressive Rock innovators had a rough start with Syd Barrett in the late 60s, David Gilmour replaced him and they were even stronger and became successful as a band. They made some of the best-selling concept albums in Rock history. They first disbanded in 1984 for ego conflicts as well, but reunited in 1987 without former member and the creative genius songwriter/bassist Roger Waters. The band has a good run thou, so had Waters in his solo career, but the band has been dormant since 1996. They had a regrouping for the 2005 Live 8 festival in London, when Richard Wright was alive.

The Police; frontman and bassist Sting moved on to his solo career in mid 80s led the band to breakup. Thou they did rejoined for a tour as The Police but never really got together as a band again.

The Eagles; indifference and ego problem between band members, especially Don Henley and Glenn Frey, led the band to disbanding. Thou they reunited again after 14 years and with “hell freezes over” tour, they again got huge attention, but it was really nothing more than making cash while they can!

The Band; was significant as the most influential Blues Rock band had a great run showing all the musicians out there, how it’s done! They also backed most of the singers/musicians during the 60s/70s. They decided to disintegrate after they learned, they had enough!!

The Doors; thou the rest of the members did try to put up a couple of albums after the poet/singer Jim Morrison’s mysterious untimely death in 1971 but there was really no point to keep the band alive! Finally, they disbanded the band following year. Later, they released an album with Jim’s recorded poetry with added backup music played by the rest of the members, the album was, An American Prayer, and it was released in 1978.

Bad Company; solo ventures for frontman Paul Rodgers led one of the most successful supergroups of the 70s dismissed. Drummer Simon Kirke and guitarist Mick Ralphs continued the band with new vocalist, but never did saw the light again like before. Paul Rodgers on the other hand has a good solo run, but I think it was a bad move for his career, when he briefly joined as the lead singer of Queen and tried to fill in Freddie Mercury’s shoe! It is rumored Bad Company is reformed with Paul again, and we can hope for a new album.

Queen; after the unfortunate death of frontman Freddie Mercury, it would be better if they left his legacy intact and keep the good memories alive. They should disband the band for good, rather than recruiting/trying for new vocalists.

Journey; without the presence of frontman Steve Perry, it is as bad as a broken band!

Nirvana; their end was the most tragic one with frontman Kurt Cobain’s suicide; it did freeze the band and then increase the band’s reputation.

Guns N’ Roses, probably Rock history never get over this band’s unnecessary death or band-suicide! They are not together because of money and ego! Frontman Axl Rose later tried to put together GnR and still trying to run the band, while everyone thinks it’s all done for the band!!

To cut the story short… like all the Punk and Glam Rock bands, Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, The Jam, T Rex, Husker Du, Blondie, Ziggy Stardust all had a brief shelf life but equally significant too. The White Stripes and R.E.M. are the newest in the lot, all these bands suffered from few or all the symptoms!

Last but not least; Jimi Hendrix Experience disbanded because Jimi died in a drug overdose, he was obviously nowhere near done!

Some bands break up before playing their first gig, while some veteran bands break up after decades. A band and a marriage share many things in common, it takes love, dedication, commitment, faithfulness and lots of responsibility. When one or more of these elements begins to fade from the relationship, it starts to lack the chemistry between the band members and it destines to a pointless goal.


(as published in SONIC Music Magazine)

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Wonderfully written, must read for all classic to present listeners.

Aditya Bhowmic

Wasn’t Axl Rose the core reason for the other members to leave?