Top 6 Biggest Comeback Fails in Rock

Sometimes it's better to stay retired...

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Sometimes, musical comebacks simply don't turn out the way the band or fans imagined it.

Over the years, there have been occasions where many fans agree that it would have been better if the artists simply extended their break or ended it for good.

Here are six examples of comebacks that turned sour.

Guns N' Roses

Once the classic GN'R lineup broke up, Axl marched on with a roster of quality musicians, but zero hits to match the band's former glory. Over two decades of work, only one album, which paled in comparison to the classic stuff.

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Led Zeppelin (1985)

In 1985, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones got the Zeppelin gang back on track for a Live Aid show with drummers Tony Thompson and Phil Collins, and bassist Paul Martinez. The show was not a good one, at all. The drummers didn't rehearse enough, Jimmy was struggling with an out-of-tune guitar, and Plant had voice issues.

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The Doors

In 2002, The Doors got back on track with Ian Astbury of The Cult on vocals. Mr. Astbury is a fine vocalist, but there's just no way The Doors can work without Jim Morrison...

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Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols were over in 1979 with the death of Sid Vicious. But they got back on track in 1996 for a Filthy Lucre reunion tour. At least they didn't hide their motives...

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Limp Bizkit

After reaching their peak in 2001, Limp Bizkit were left without their guitarist Wes Borland. They stayed afloat with 2003's "Results May Vary," but even with Wes' return in 2004, they haven't released another album with notable hits or commercial success to this day.

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Iron Maiden

'90s were a bit of a rough patch for Iron Maiden. Bruce Dickinson left the band in 1993, and was replaced by Blaze Bayley. The Bayley era lasted five years, resulting in two of the band's least acclaimed albums. Bruce was back in 1999, resulting in one of the greatest comeback albums of all time - the mighty "Brave New World."

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Got something to add? Do it in the comments.

42 comments sorted by best / new / date

    gjholloway
    I recently gave Brave New World, Dance of Death, A matter of Life and Death, and Book of Souls a good listen through since I was never a huge Iron Maiden fan, and my god I loved every second of these albums so much so that I immediately went out and bought them.
    sombrero_mop
    I purchased The Book of Souls on a whim just because I happened to see that they had just released it. I had never listened to any song other than The Trooper before I picked up that album. Empire of the Clouds is an absolute fucking masterpiece. I must have listened to it 50 times through since September. Huge props to Maiden for being the most impressive 80's metal band still releasing music.
    ed_the_head
    IRON MAIDEN WITH BLAZE WASN'T A COMEBACK!! It was a legitimate band line-up. Thank you.
    Shaggy91
    Maiden shouldn't be on this list, ni complaints for anything else though. Maiden had great success after Bruce returned. They didn't go away then try and come back then fail. Bruce left, they sunk for a bit, then he returned and they fucking rolled out the metal ever since
    henrihell
    Agreed. You can't really call it a comeback if there wasn't a break. The only comeback Maiden did was when Bruce returned, and that was definitely no fail.
    District
    I don't see how the Iron Maiden example is a comeback fail. If anything, BNW was a great comeback, as you state yourself. The Blaze albums were no comebacks.
    Mezis
    How is Bruce leaving Iron Maiden and the band continuing with a different vocalist a comeback?? The biggest failure here is that Maiden is on that list.
    mudfrog
    If it want for Blaze Bayley keeping Maiden going they may not be here today. Defo doesn't get the credit he deserves. Blaze's albums after leaving Maiden are great.
    Jazz1992
    Man, his albums WITH Maiden are amazing too. Somewhat shitty production/mixing, and some subpar songs (The Angel and the Gambler, I'm looking at you), but mostly great and really underrated stuff.
    sillylily5534
    They're my favourite band ever but I genuinely feel like Priest should be here. When Rob left the band, they went on an indefinite hiatus and then came back 4 years later with Tim, but by then it was too late and their popularity had bombed massively going from playing out sold out arenas to doing tiny academies and clubs. Even when Rob returned, they still haven't managed to get themselves back up to Arena-level yet, which is really quite sad as they're to this day one of the best bands out there.
    milesak
    They're arena level. Just not here in the UK, and I think they're underestimated by promoters! They could sell out any venue they wanted.
    sillylily5534
    That's the thing, on their recent tour they didn't sell out either Brixton Academy (which was the best show I went to last year) or Portsmouth Guildhall (which is fuckin' tiny!). It's weird when you consider how big they were between British Steel and Painkiller and now their popularity seems to have just more or less vanished over night.
    TheLiberation
    They might not have that "ultrasuperstar" status anymore, but I don't think it matters - they've released some awesome albums, and I particularly appreciate the fact that they just do what they feel like, without trying hard for a commercial success. Nostradamus was probably the biggest proof of that, which band known for classic, straightforward heavy metal suddenly decides to do a double concept album almost 40 years into their career? If something, Priest are a great example of how to age gracefully. Their times of huge success are probably over, but instead of trying to repeat it again and again, they're just doing their thing, releasing quality stuff, playing AWESOME shows (seriously), and they have more than enough fans for support. They're still around and more than worth listening to, and when the time comes to roll down the curtains (hopefully still many years from now), they'll be remembered as a band with an excellent, consistent career and discography. Many bands that seem to constantly try to "relive their former glory", usually resulting in a miserable disaster, should learn from their example.
    TheLiberation
    Note: "hits or commercial successes" are terrible criteria for determining quality, even in case of Limp Bizkit.
    MthrfknBrkdwN
    Gold Cobra by LB isn't all that bad. Not a fucking clue what they're doing at all right now though they'd released those shitty new songs and just not said anything about them.
    bunnyh0pz
    The quality of their songs changing isn't why they've stopped making hits. They're not making hits because its not 2000 anymore.
    MthrfknBrkdwN
    It's not 1986 but Iron Maiden still bring out "hits".
    bunnyh0pz
    Maybe that's because they have one of the biggest, most dedicated fanbases in music and weren't considered the worst part of a small passing trend?
    MthrfknBrkdwN
    That has nothing to do with your logic though.
    Xomar
    I'd argue that the music Maiden plays transcends more than just a decade or two - hence why so many of those bands are still going, at least to some degree. Limp Bizkit's music, while popular at the time, probably won't be popular for decades to come.
    Ultimate-Grohl
    There's a number of bands that could be added to the list. Creed is one of them; great band but Full Circle wasn't as satisfying as their other hits.
    life_247
    Erm Guns N' Roses was not a comeback as such. That was a new band pretty much playing with Axl and they never really went away there was some pretty big shows in 2001, a European & US tour in 2001 then tours in 06,07,08,09,10,11,12,13 & 14. The real comeback comes in April with Slash and Duff back in the fold!
    EtotheG
    The Pistols were over in '78 and Sids death had nothing to do with it.
    JohnnySardine
    God knows why the Pistols reunion is deemed a failure. It was the oiginal line up and they were good.
    Rael1974
    Every King Crimson comeback is awful. Yep, I went there. "Wholetone scales in 15/16. We so progressive, we can make it without Greg Lake." lol no.
    godhelpus
    Yea the first three albums with Belew on vocals were both extremely popular and extremely good...and so was Lark's Tongue in Aspic...and Red...yea you're just wrong.
    Divinephyton
    Yeah, no. They were successful commercially and critically after Greg Lake. You might not like it, but they've not made any failed comeback. I think they made great music well into the 80's, and the stuff after that is def not bad either.
    WOWGOLD123
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    prbreijer
    And if you listen to how Maiden's music evolves through time, than you can't deny the Blaze Bayley albums. They lead up to, what i think, some of the best metal albums ever! Especially "Brave New World"
    franciscanv
    Deep Purple mk 2 could be included. Blackmore not coming out until the solo in Highway Star, throwing water at Gillan, and then there's the famous spaghetti in face incident