“No man ever steps in the same river twice,” as Heraclitus once observed. “Never have sex with your ex,” as my grandmother once counselled. What both The Weeping Philosopher and my nan agree on is that the universe is a constantly changing place, where it’s foolish to try and relive former glories. These words of wisdom sound somewhat lost on former Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge however, who recently teased the possibility of rejoining the band he quit only a few months ago. DeLonge told San Diego Comic-Con that all it would take for him to record with Blink again would be “just a few phone calls” – but is going back to a band you’ve split from acrimoniously ever a good idea? Here’s a few others who’ve gone down that path – with varying degrees of success…
The year is 2001, and Graham Coxon is spending 28 days in the Priory for alcoholism. When he leaves, to join Blur for the recording of ‘Think Tank’, he finds that he’s no longer wanted, and leaves the band. Everyone does the sad face emoji in their hearts. The wheels eventually fall off the Blur wagon entirely, and Damon goes to Africa for some reason. In December 2008, Graham and Damon finally announce they’ve patched things up. There was more rejoicing in heaven over this one band that reunited, than over ninety nine shit ones who never broke up in the first place. They played Glastonbury and Hyde Park. They made a new record which was pretty decent. Everyone felt like that emoji with a cone and streamers. You know, the party one.
The Libertines stumbled on for a little while after Pete Doherty left, like a drunk with his shoe laces tied together, but it was never quite the same. While Doherty was spiralling into an ever-decreasing loop between addiction, jail and rehab, the band tried to fulfil their live obligations with Carl Barat as a lone frontman and future Dirty Pretty Thing Anthony Rossomando filling in on guitar. They played their final show, without Doherty, on December 17 2004 in Paris. Six years later, the band reformed for Reading and Leeds 2010. A press conference held at the Boogaloo in north London marked the first thawing of Doherty and Barat’s relationship, and the beginning of a process that would see the band go on to play celebratory shows in Hyde Park and Alexandra Palace and record a wholly unexpected third album. Will Pete’s return be seen as a success in the long run? We’ll have to wait until ‘Anthems for Doomed Youth’ hits our ears on September 4 to judge that for sure…
David Lee Roth
Back in 1985, a rift had developed within the dark heart of big-haired rockers Van Halen. It boiled down to a difference of opinions between lead singer David Lee Roth and the eponymous Eddie Van Halen. Basically, Eddie wanted to write serious music about deep emotions, and David wanted to keep writing party songs about boozing and bonking. Roth left, only to rejoin 21 years later for a delayed world-tour and a fractious Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame induction that eventually gave way into a new sense of brotherhood.
Tired of being dubbed “the fat dancer from Take That” by the cool kids of Britpop, Robbie ditched the band in 1995 to pursue his own lucrative solo career. At first it was embarrassing – a cavalcade of desperate attempts to get in with the Gallaghers equivalent to the school dork loudly proclaiming that he “really loves Skepta”. Then it turned round: Robbie embraced his inner entertainer, the record sales started to pour in and in 2002 he signed an £80 million recording deal – the largest in UK music history. Not content with being “rich beyond [his] wildest dreams”, as he so humbly declared upon receiving his cheque, however, Williams rejoined the old band for one album (2010’s ‘Progress’), giving them the second fastest selling record in UK history before pissing off again. If you’re measuring merit in cold, hard cash, then Robbie’s return was the most successful of them all.
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Contrary to the sage advice of ‘Rumours’ cut ‘Never Going Back Again’, Christine McVie rejoined Fleetwood Mac in 2014. She had initially quit the band in 1998, which she later explained as being down to having developed a fear of flying. Fortunately, a combination of pyschotherapy and seeing her old bandmates perform convinced her to rejoin, and the shows since she got the full band back together have been a joyous vindication of her decision.
Genius takes a toll on a man, and that’s rarely been more apparent than after Brian Wilson’s breakdown following the release of 1966’s ‘Pet Sounds’. When his follow-up ‘Smile’ fell into disarray and was cancelled, Wilson began to withdraw from the group. By the mid-70s he was successfully managing to bury his talent beneath a mountain of cocaine and cigarettes. In 1976, his life began to be controlled by his live-in therapist, Dr. Eugene Landy, who launched a ‘Brian’s Back’ campaign. Landy planned to get Wilson “out of bed” and into the studio, resulting in the album ’15 Big Ones’, although the singer would then withdraw again. After living for several more years as a recluse, Wilson rejoined the band once more in 1985 for Live Aid and performed on their 25th studio album ‘The Beach Boys’. Following a difficult recording process, he left the band again immediately afterwards. He released his debut solo album three years later.
Though it might seem unlikely to the modern brain that anyone would actively seek to join slap bass-loving funk lovers the Red Hot Chili Peppers not once, but twice, back in the day guitarist John Frusciante did just that. As a fan of the band’s first three albums, Frusciante was first drafted in in 1988 before growing uncomfortable with their increasing fame and ditching the group amid a cloud of drugs and depression in 1992. Clean and happy in 1998, however, Frusciante was asked to rejoin. “Nothing would make me happier in the world,” he sobbed, before linking arms, leading the band to their critical peak (‘1999’s ‘Californication’ and 2002’s ‘By The Way’) and leaving again in 2009.
Limp Bizkit man Borland left in 2001 not long after the release of ‘Chocolate Starfish…’ only to scurry back in 2004. In the interim, the nu-metallers invited fans to audition to be their new guitarist, taping applicants who were instructed to perform their own riffs. In the end, they ditched the idea, brought in Snot guitarist Mike Smith and – it was alleged by some fans – ripped off applicants’ guitar parts from those auditions on the album that followed, 2003’s ‘Results May Vary’ (“In no way whatsoever would Limp Bizkit ever steal or take anything – music, riffs – from anyone on this planet,” singer Fred Durst responded). Back in the fold in 2005, Borland seemed happy to be back – until earlier this year, when he claimed Limp Bizkit fans are largely “roided out Jell-O shot filled bohunks”. Ah.