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.
The first few years of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony did manage to bring long-feuding acts like the The Temptations onto the same stage after many years, but there weren't really any performances until the big jam at the end of the night. Sadly, that meant the Four Seasons didn't get to sing any of their own songs in 1990. Simon & Garfunkel did manage to play "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "The Boxer" in the middle of the chaos. It was first performance since Paul Simon killed a planned reunion album in 1984, causing all sorts of bad blood.
Nobody is going to argue that the Byrds played flawlessly at their 1991 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it's a small miracle that it happened at all. They'd recently wrapped up a very bitter legal battle over the group's name. Relations were at an all-time low, but the original five members still sucked it up and played "Mr. Tambourine Man." Gene Clark died later that year, and Michael Clarke passed away two years after that.
Eric Clapton initially had very little interest in reuniting with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce at the 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "I have to be honest and say that until very recently I didn't believe in this institution at all," he said when Cream accepted their award. "It seemed to me that rock & roll should never be respectable. And then a friend of mine, not so long ago, Robbie Robertson, pointed out to minor and major miracles take place in here. It deeply moved me. I looked at this from a different point of view and learned that a lot can be gained by coming here tonight. A lot has been gained. I've been reunited with two people that I lover very dearly. It's very moving. Yesterday, we played together for the first time in 25 years. It was pretty amazing." The trio played 'Sunshine of Your Love," "Crossroads" and "Born Under a Bad Sign." It would be another 12 years before they did it again.
The 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony could have been the biggest year ever for reunions had John Fogerty agreed to play with Creedence, but he left them at the podium to play with Bruce Springsteen. Bitter feelings from the incident linger all these years later. Thankfully, not only did Cream play that night, but the surviving members of the Doors agreed to play with Eddie Vedder. They did stellar renditions of "Light My Fire," "Roadhouse Blues" and "Break on Through." It was one of the only times the three surviving members of the Doors played together after the group broke up in 1973.
Even the magic of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame couldn't convince Levon Helm to share the stage with Robbie Robertson at the Band's induction. There was simply too much bad blood and Levon didn't even show up to the ceremony. Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko did play together for the first time since The Last Waltz in 1976.
Led Zeppelin's induction came at a very, very awkward time for the group. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant had just announced a reunion tour, and they didn't even bother to tell John Paul Jones it was happening. He found out when he saw an advertisement on TV. He took a crack at his former bandmates by thanking them for "remembering my phone number" at the podium. The group still came together, with Jason Bonham on drums, to play "When the Levee Breaks" with Neil Young and "Bring It on Home" with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. It was a little sloppy and Neil Young maybe played a little too much, but it was still amazing to see them together again. It would be another 12 years before they played together again.
The 1996 Hall of Fame ceremony had some problems. David Bowie, Grace Slick and Roger Waters all stayed home. A Velvet Underground reunion seemed unlikely considering that guitarist Sterling Morrison died the previous August and John Cale and Lou Reed were barely on speaking terms, but the group still came together for one final performance. Reed, Cale and Maureen Tucker played their new composition "Last Night I Said Goodbye to My Friend" as a tribute to Morrison. The group never played together again in any incarnation, and Reed died in October 2013.
They didn't make any sort of announcement, but the David Gilmour-led Pink Floyd quietly disbanded after their 1994 world tour. They came back together two years later at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Relations were Roger Waters were still highly strained and he didn't show up. David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Billy Corgan performed an acoustic "Wish You Were Here." Drummer Nick Mason was in the house, but he didn't play with them. It was the last time that Pink Floyd performed together until Live 8 in 2005.
Grace Slick was a no-show at the 1996 ceremony, claiming a mysterious foot ailment, but that didn't stop the other members of the Jefferson Airplane from playing a brief set. It marked the first time that Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, and Spencer Dryden all shared the same stage since the 1970s. And now that Dryden and Kantner are no longer with us and Slick is firmly-retired, this is about a complete reunion as the world is likely to ever witness.
Neil Young walked out on Buffalo Springfield two times during their incredibly brief run in the 1960s, so it was no big shock that he didn't come to the group's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It also happened to be the year that Crosby, Stills and Nash were inducted, so they played "For What It's Worth" with Buffalo Springfield's Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer. The drummer and bassist didn't play any instruments, but they were still up there. Sadly, it's as close as they ever came to a Buffalo Springfield reunion since they both passed away prior to the group's brief return in 2010.
The original lineup of the Rascals spent decades feuding before they reunited for a Broadway show a couple of years ago. They did briefly come together at the 1997 Hall of Fame ceremony long enough to perform “Good Lovin'” and “People Got to Be Free.” They were inducted by Rascals superfan Steve Van Zandt. Sopranos creator David Chase happened to watch the speech and was so impressed by his energy and vibe that he cast him a few years later on the HBO mob drama despite the fact he had zero acting experience. It changed his entire life.
The Eagles reformed for a crazily lucrative reunion tour four years before they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but former members Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon weren't invited to the party. All seven Eagles came together and played "Take It Easy" and "Hotel California" at the ceremony. Don Felder left the band a few years later and things got really, really ugly. Don Henley can't even say his full name these days (calling him only Mr. Felder), let alone agree to play with him. Bernie Leadon toured with them between 2013 and 2015, and Meisner might have been there if he didn't have health problems. But the death of Glenn Frey means the Eagles are over forever, so this is the only time all seven got to play together.
The original Mamas and Papas broke up in 1968, coming back together super briefly three years later for a contractually obligated reunion album. Cass Elliott's death three years later made any sort of full reunion impossible, but in the 1980s John Phillips and Denny Doherty toured as the New Mamas and Papas. Mackenzie Phillips and Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane took on the female roles. They played a lot of state fairs and did a lot of drugs. Things got depraved. We'll spare you the gory details, but they are outlined in Mackenzie's book. Anyway, the only time that Michelle Phillips sang with her ex-bandmates was at the group's 1998 Hall of Fame induction. John clearly wasn't in good health and was forced to sit on a stool as they played "California Dreamin'." He died three years later and Doherty followed in 2007.
Original Fleetwood Mac member Peter Green was inducted with his band at the 1998 ceremony, but he didn't wind up playing with the Rumours lineup. Some fans were upset, but it wasn't exactly like he could have done much on "Big Love." Lucky for Green, Santana were inducted the same night. He wrote their hit "Black Magic Woman," and he performed it with them that night. It was the first time many of the original members of Santana played with Carlos in many years, and they were absolutely amazing. It seemed like a one-shot deal, but they just came back together for a new album and tour.
Bruce Springsteen’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just happened to coincide with his decision to reunite with the E Street Band for a world tour. The first glimpse the public got of the reunion, however, was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March of 1999. They played “The Promised Land,” “Backstreets,” “10th Avenue Freeze-Out” and “In the Midnight Hour” with Wilson Pickett. The evening kick-started an incredible new chapter in Springsteen’s career. The tour began less than a month later.
The Lovin' Spoonful broke up in 1969, only coming back together a decade later to film a scene in Paul Simon's ill-fated 1980 movie One Trick Pony. They hit the oldies circuit (minus frontman John Sebastian) in 1991 and they're there to this day. The only time that Sebastian agreed to play with them was the 2000 ceremony. They did "Do You Believe In Magic." Sabastian wasn't exactly in the best voice, but it was still a very nice moment. Guitarist Zal Yanovsky died just two years later.
In hindsight, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' 2002 induction into the Hall of Fame was somewhat of a sad occasion. Bassist Howie Epstein was in horrific physical shape due to his severe heroin addiction. He pulled himself together enough to perform on "Mary Jane's Last Dance" but he died just one year later. This was his final time onstage with the band. It was also the first (and last) time that Stan Lynch played with Petty since he left the group in 1994, meaning this is the only time that all members of the group, past and present, came together.
Much to the dismay of millions of fans around the world and his three bandmates, David Byrne has made it very clear that he has absolutely no interest in reuniting with the Talking Heads. They could pack venues all over the world and basically mint money, but Byrne is a stubborn man and he doesn't want to look backwards. He did make a lone exception when the group was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002. Not only did they perform, but they rehearsed for days and absolutely killed. They started as a four-piece for "Psycho Killer" and then brought out some of the extra musicians from Stop Making Sense for "Life During Wartime" and "Burning Down the House." It was absolutely amazing, and it'll never happen again.
Four years before The Police reunited for a massive world tour, they did a three-song set at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They weren't exactly the best of friends at this point and Stewart Copeland made it very clear that he wasn't happy with the plan to play with Gwen Stefani and John Mayer. He even knocked a hole in one of his drums during their brief set. But their performance of "Roxanne," "Every Breath You Take" and "Message In A Bottle" was still very cool, and it clearly paved the way for what came in 2007.
Traffic had a very fluid lineup during their two runs in the 1960s and 1970s, and when they reunited in 1994 for a summer tour, only Steve Winwood and drummer Jim Capaldi came along for the ride. They didn't play together for the next 10 years, but at the 2004 induction ceremony Capaldi and Steve Winwood came back together for "Dear Mister Fantasy." Dave Mason played on the original, but for reasons that surely made sense at the time, he didn't join them. Mason, Capaldi and Winwood were all onstage during the evening-ending jam for "Feelin' Alright." Capaldi died less than a year later.
The Sex Pistols didn't show up to their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2006, and Blondie got into a nasty fight at the podium when Debbie Harry refused to perform with the former members of the group. It was perhaps the most awkward moment in Hall of Fame history. One might suspect that the wild southern boys in Lynyrd Skynyrd might have had some beef as well, considering their long-standing estrangement from drummers Artimus Pyle and Bob Burns and original guitarist Ed King. But the surviving members of the Skynyrd acted like princes that night. They graciously shared the spotlight and the stage with each other, playing an emotionally gut-wrenching "Freebird" for all the members of the band that passed away.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five became the first hip-hop act to enter the Hall of Fame at the 2007 ceremony. It made a lot of sense since Flash was a pioneer on the turntables and the first rap song that many people heard was their 1982 classic "The Message." The surviving members of the rap collective came together that night for a grand medley of their classics. Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins died in 1989, and they honored him by putting a cowboy hat on one of the microphones.