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Elvis, Aerosmith and Rock's Top Comebacks: Join the Debate

April 22, 2009 4:32 PM ET

@erinhotchkiss hit us up on Twitter asking, "What are your top 5 music comebacks??"

After much newsroom discussion and debate, we came up with a short list:

Elvis Presley: The King sets the bar high with his '68 Comeback Special, a TV event that heralded his return after years away from live performance (he hadn't taken a stage since 1961) and a string of B movies with subpar soundtracks. After losing his grip on the Top 10 and getting married, Presley filmed the show that would become "one of the most powerful performances in rock history," as RS put it.

Aerosmith: Between 1973 and 1979, Steven Tyler and Co. were the top American hard-rock band, putting out six multiplatinum albums (Aerosmith to Night in the Ruts). Then Joe Perry and Brad Whitford quit, and the band struggled with substance abuse and irrelevance for a decade. 1987's Permanent Vacation marked their return and the quadruple-platinum Pump sealed the deal.

Johnny Cash: The Man in Black made his mark with "I Walk the Line" in 1956 and held his grip on the American public despite a near-decade-long battle with substance abuse. Cash kept his name in lights in the 1970s via television specials and an autobiography, but ill health and squabbles with Columbia took him out of the game in the '80s. Rick Rubin resurrected his reputation in 1994 with American Recordings, and he became a legend again for a new generation.

Neil Young: With Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Crazy Horse and on his own, Young carved out his signature sound in the late 1960s and 1970s. Then he spent the 1980s making music that sounded like anything but his aesthetic, from Hawks and Doves to Trans (don't forget, a Vocoder was involved). His comeback came with 1989's Freedom and its single "Rockin' In The Free World."

AC/DC: The Aussie hard rockers weathered the death of lead singer Bon Scott in 1980 and went on to release Back in Black with new frontman Brian Johnson. But after a string of late-'70s hits and the 1981 success For Those About to Rock We Salute You, infighting kept their output (and acclaim) to a minimum for the rest of the decade. 1990's The Razors Edge marked a small return, but their blockbuster came again last year with Black Ice, their first LP since 2000 and a sales monster.

There were some arguments about Neil Diamond and Meat Loaf as well, and over on Twitter, the conversation continued:

Tony Bennett (courtesy of @pattidigh) Dinosaur Jr. (courtesy of @MikeBallanco)

So who else makes the list?

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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