VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild
WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
Not all comebacks connect with fans. For this list, we'll be looking at the most notable times solo artists or groups tried and failed to get back into the spotlight. Our countdown includes The Doors, KISS, Limp Bizkit, and more!
Top 10 Musicians That Failed to Make a Comeback
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Musicians That Failed to Make a Comeback.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most notable times solo artists or groups tried and failed to get back into the spotlight. We’ll include musicians who went onto have successful careers after failing to make a big return.
Which artist do you think made the best comeback? Let us know in the comments.
#10: The Doors
When Jim Morrison died in 1971, it came as a huge surprise to both his fans and bandmates. Remaining members Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore continued on without him until 1973. They also managed to reunite for a handful of shows over the years. But none of their solo products or new combinations really got any traction. In 2002, Manzarek and Krieger attempted to take a bigger step forward and revive the band with Ian Astbury of The Cult. While they tried to tour as The Doors of the 21st Century, they had to change their name for legal reasons. They continued on until Manzarek sadly died in 2013. In a heartwarming tribute, the surviving members reunited to pay tribute to him.
#9: Geri Halliwell
“Half of Me” (2013)
Geri Halliwell made her mark on the world as the “ginger spice” within the pop sensation known as the Spice Girls. After enjoying a few good years with the troupe, Hailiwell struck out on her own. Her first two albums and singles like “It’s Raining Men” were relatively successful. Unfortunately, Halliwell couldn’t keep up that momentum when she returned with new music in 2004. Following the failure of her third album, the musician reunited for a few Spice Girls events before trying to make a solo comeback in 2013 by releasing the single “Half of Me” exclusively in Australia. After admitting on her own blog that it wasn’t a great comeback, she moved on from her solo pursuits and found success in areas like writing.
#8: Stone Temple Pilots
“High Rise” (2013)
When Stone Temple Pilots released their debut album “Core”, the group was launched into superstardom. Their sensational songs and unique sound solidified them as a stand out act among many. But a year after their fifth album Shangri-La Dee Da flopped, Stone Temple Pilots split up in 2003. The band tried several times to make a comeback over the years. However, Scott Weiland’s public and private disputes with the band cut his tenure short. And although they started to gain traction again with Chester Bennington in 2015, he left after two years to focus on Linkin Park. Stone Temple Pilots managed to push forward with a new singer. However, they haven’t flown quite as high as they once did.
#7: Smashing Pumpkins
In a time where grunge music reigned supreme, Smashing Pumpkins emerged as an alternative to the alternative rock sound people were being bombarded by. Both “Siamese Dream” and “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” made huge impacts on modern music. The latter went 10 times platinum in the United States. But by the turn of the century, the band had parted ways. Seven years later, lead singer Billy Corgan reformed the band with only one other original member appearing. When this new formation released the album “Zeitgeist”, they didn’t get quite the reception they hoped. The tracks had an equal number of fans and detractors. After this disappointing return, the band was never quite the smashing success it once was.
#6: Led Zeppelin
1985's Live Aid (1985)
While Led Zeppelin once climbed the “Stairway to Heaven” to success, they’ve stumbled over a few reunion attempts. When the surviving members came together to play “Live Aid” in 1985, they brought on musical heavyweights like Phil Collins and Paul Martinez. But the performance didn’t go well. Not only were there multiple instrument and technical issues, but the band apparently wasn’t in sync with their great guests. A 1988 reunion later suffered from sound problems and a disagreement between lead singer Robert Plant and Jimmy Page about the setlist. Since their frontman has been reluctant to do more with Led Zeppelin over the last 20 years, the chances of a great return are unlikely.
“Sonic Boom” (2009)
What does a band do when they want to relaunch their musical career? Why, they just make their new three-disc album a Walmart exclusive! That was the story behind Kiss’s 2009 release “Sonic Boom”. The album was actually well-received and achieved huge chart success in its opening release week. But despite critical praise, the band had sold less than 250,000 copies of their new work by the end of the year. It’s unclear whether it commercially flopped because two of three discs included were compilations of their previously released songs or if Walmart was the issue. Either way, the band eventually stopped making albums four years after Sonic Boom dropped.
#4: Pink Floyd
“A Momentary Lapse of Reason” (1987)
Since Pink Floyd has sold a quarter of a billion records, it’s fair to say that they’re one of the biggest rock bands of all time. But they ran into a definite rough patch after co-founder Roger Waters had a very public falling out with the rest of the band. After he left, guitarist David Gilmour took the reins of the group and released a new album in 1987. The critical consensus around the album was that it sounded like an imitation of Pink Floyd’s sound. While their follow up “The Division Bell” had more financial success, it didn’t win every critic over. It seemed like the absence of Waters had a profound effect on Pink Floyd’s trajectory.
#3: Vanilla Ice
“Hard to Swallow” (1998)
After taking his early rap career “To the Extreme '' with hits like “Ice Ice Baby”, this musician was riding high. But his success didn’t seem to last long. In 1991, Vanilla Ice released his follow-up album “Mind Blowin'” to less than stellar reviews. After overcoming personal struggles, he tried to make another comeback with “Hard to Swallow''. This album was meant to combine elements from rap, metal and more into one package. Vanilla Ice’s fusion of sounds didn’t manage to light the world on fire. Although he made a few more attempts to reclaim his former glory, neither fans nor critics stood behind his newer efforts.
#2: Limp Bizkit
“Gold Cobra” (2011)
Limp Bizkit's “Significant Other” album launched the group into the stratosphere of metal mania in 1999. However, they’ve continually struggled to regain their high position. Their “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” album had great sales but bad reviews. After more musical efforts failed to impress, the group took an eight year hiatus. Limp Bizkit then returned to release two albums ten years apart. While “Gold Cobra” had a mixed reception, their “Still Sucks” album in 2021 couldn’t help them keep “rollin” up the charts. It’s now unknown whether Limp Bizkit will ever replicate their 90s success.
#1: Guns N’ Roses
“Chinese Democracy” (2008)
It took 15 years and 14 band lineup changes to get the Guns N’ Roses album “Chinese Democracy” across the finish line. After the project was first hinted at in 1994, a series of delays and production issues pushed this work into the next century. Unfortunately, it wasn’t worth the wait for everyone. Critics were pretty split down the middle about the album. And despite selling millions, the sales were still underwhelming for the group. The fact that Chinese Democracy was initially a Best Buy exclusive didn’t help matters either. As of 2023, there are no signs that fans will ever see a new Guns N’Roses album.