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10 ‘Farewell’ Tours That Didn’t Stick

Members of the biggest bands ever to return from retirement on why they quit – and why they came back

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The Who perform in 1982.

Clayton Call/Redferns

When Mötley Crüe raised the idea of a farewell tour, the band was stunned by their booking agents’ reaction. “They said to us, ‘This is a good marketing thing,'” says bassist Nikki Sixx. “It really bummed us out.” It’s hard to fault the Crüe camp for their skepticism: Farewell tours are an easy way to sell tickets to fans who want to come see their idols before they “retire.” It has even become somewhat of a joke. Phil Collins cheekily labelled his 2004 outing the “First Final Farewell Tour” and the Eagles went on their “Farewell 1” tour around the same time. The Crüe swear they are for real, but many groups in the past were equally emphatic when they announced their final tours. Here’s a look back at 10 of them. 

Elton John

Elton John (1977)

What He Said Then: "I've made a decision tonight that this is going to be the last show. There's a lot more to me than playing on the road and this is the last one I'm going to do." – Elton John, 1977

Years Until Next Tour: Two

Explanation: "I was doing drugs. I never smoked dope. It was basically cocaine, and dabbling in smack a couple of times, but never through a needle; always ingesting it. I went through my period of hallucinations, too." – Elton John


Frank Sinatra (1971)

What He Said Then: “I’m serious about my decision. There are lots of things I want to do that I haven’t done before. I want to meet some girls and build a house someplace.” – Frank Sinatra, 1971

Years Until Next Tour: Two

Explanation: “Don’t be surprised. If Bobby Riggs can come back, so can I. You may wonder why I gave it all up in the first place. It seemed like a very good idea at the time. I’d just loaf and play golf and mess around. But things kept happening to me that I didn’t anticipate. For example, after two years of playing golf I’m still a 17 handicap. That’s not possible.” – Frank Sinatra, 1973


Cream (1968)

What They Said Then: "I think the Cream reached its peak last year at San Francisco. From that we all went on such a huge ego trip. Making it in the States was a bang in the head … I just want to perform contemporary blues. With the Cream solos were the thing, but I'm really off that virtuoso kick. It was all over exposed. We died the death from playing exposure." – Eric Clapton, 1968

Years Until Next Tour: 37 (To be fair, they only played two cities when they reformed 2005.)

Explanation: "Given the fact that we were all still capable of playing together, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to ourselves while we still could." – Eric Clapton, 2007