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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Reunions That Actually Happened

Relive three decades of Rock Hall reunions, from Cream to Talking Heads

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The annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is basically the only place outside of a courtroom where feuding ex-bandmates are forced to stand together. Over the years, this has led to stunning reunions from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Talking Heads, the Police, Cream and many others. It’s also led to stunningly awkward moments, when groups such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and Blondie have feuded in full view of the world and refused to play together. Here are 32 reunions that actually happened. Note: We’re counting situations like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, where the current lineup of a band was joined for former members for a very special night.

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26. Alice Cooper (2011)

The original Alice Cooper band broke up in 1973 and guitarist Glen Buxton died in 1997. The surviving members have come together at a handful of charity gigs in recent years, and they played a glorious set at the Hall of Fame in 2011. With help from Rob Zombie and a children’s choir, they broke out “Eighteen,” “School’s Out” and “Under My Wheels.” Alice has played these songs with a lot of other musicians, but nobody plays them quite like the originals. 

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27. The Hollies (2010)

The Hollies never actually broke up, though without Graham Nash and Allan Clarke they've been a shell of themselves, playing oldies gigs around Europe. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a rare opportunity to play to a large audience, but they didn't want to call off any gigs in Europe and so they didn't come. That didn't stop Nash, his lifelong friend Clarke and Terry Sylvester from showing up. Clarke had vocal problems and hadn't sung in years, but he managed to belt out "Bus Stop" and "Carrie Anne" with Paul Shaffer and his band. Sylvester wasn't told they were going to do "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" — a song he originally played on — and he ran onstage and grabbed the mic to sing a few lines. Nash was not very happy with the situation. 

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28. Guns N’ Roses (2012)

Guns N' Roses fans had been counting to down the group's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for years prior to their 2012 induction. It seemed like the one chance when Axl Rose might possibly consider maybe playing again with the old lineup. They should have known better. After a long back and forth, Axl finally bailed on the entire ceremony via a long and crazy letter. "I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia," he wrote, "and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf." Guitarist Izzy Stradlin didn't come either, but that didn't stop Steven Adler, Duff McKagan, Slash, Matt Sorum, Gilby Clarke and Myles Kennedy from playing together. At the time, a reunion between Axl and Slash seemed impossible, but just four years later it happened. 

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29. Heart (2013)

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart initially had no desire to reunite with the group's original lineup. They hadn't played with those guys in decades and there was a long and bitter history. In the end, they compromised by playing "Crazy on You" with the old lineup and "Barracuda" with the new band. It was the first time the group played together in 34 years, and it's hard to imagine a scenario where it happens again. Like many things at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was a one-time deal. 

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30. Nirvana (2014)

It would have been hard to complain if Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic opted to not perform when Nirvana was inducted into the Hall of Fame. But they were up for the challenge of bringing in guest singers, ultimately going with Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, St. Vincent and Lorde. It was the first time Dave and Krist had performed Nirvana music together in public since Kurt Cobain’s death in 1994, and it was absolutely explosive. Later that night, they did a long set in a tiny Brooklyn club. 

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31. The E Street Band (2014)

Fifteen years after Bruce Springsteen entered the Hall of Fame as a solo artist, the E Street Band joined the institution when they were given the Award for Musical Excellence. The group was in the middle of a tour at the time, but that night they played a special set featuring original drummer Vini Lopez and original keyboardist David Sancious. It was the first time Springsteen had performed with both E Street Band drummers at the same time ("I don't know how the Allman Brothers do it!" he said midway though the set), and it was great to see members past and present come together. Sadly, Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici weren't around to experience it. 

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32. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (2015)

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band hasn't exactly been an ongoing concern since their split in the early 1970s, and the deaths of guitarist Mike Bloomfield and Butterfield himself made any sort of big reunion pretty difficult. But there are still many surviving members, and they all came together at the 2015 Hall of Fame induction ceremony to play a brief set of blues classics. Guitarist Elvin Bishop even ditched the standard Hall of Fame black-tie dress code for an awesome pair of overalls. 

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33. Cheap Trick (2016)

Cheap Trick did not have kind things to say about their estranged drummer Bun E. Carlos before the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. “Oh, God, he’s such an asshole,” said guitarist Rick Nielsen. “I always said the band was three men and a baby.” But when they took the stage at the Barclays Center, it was nothing but gracious smiles and a killer mini-set of “I Want You to Want Me,” “Dream Police” and “Surrender” before bringing everybody from the evening out for “Ain’t That a Shame.” Whatever offstage problems the musicians had, the onstage chemistry remained very strong. Sadly, it was probably the last time the original quartet will ever play together. 

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34. Chicago (2016)

Chicago’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 seemed like the perfect opportunity for the group to perform with former singer-bassist Peter Cetera since the left the group in 1985. Group leader Robert Lamm said he was more than willing to make it happen, but negotiations broke down when Cetera wanted them to drastically lower they key of “25 or 6 to 4.” The group had been doing it one way for nearly 50 years and weren’t willing to change it up that much, so Cetera stayed home. The brouhaha around it obscured the fact that there was indeed a Chicago reunion that night. Drummer Danny Seraphine played with them for the first time since getting tossed out in 1990. He also delivered some memorable lines at the podium. “We lived together, as most bands do, we cried together, we fought together, we fucked together,” he said. “‘Please wrap it up?’ Screw you. I’ve waited 25 fucking years for this!”

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36. Yes (2017)

Relations within Yes could not have been worse when they were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017. They’d spent the past year on the road in two warring camps and weren’t on speaking terms. Much to their credit, they sucked it up and formed a one-night-only lineup of the group with Jon Anderson on lead vocals, Steve Howe on bass, Trevor Rabin on guitar, Rick Wakeman on keyboard and Alan White on drums for “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” For “Roundabout,” Howe switched over to guitar and Rush’s Geddy Lee took over on bass. Some fans hoped it would lead to another Union tour, but instead they went right back out in the two separate incarnations. Even their 50th anniversary in 2018 couldn’t bring them together. Only the Hall of Fame could do that. 

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