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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.


9. Jefferson Airplane (1996)

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. 


10. Buffalo Springfield (1997)

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. 


11. The (Young) Rascals (1997)

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. 


12. Eagles (1998)

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. 


13. The Mamas and the Papas (1998)

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.  


14. Santana (1998)

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. 


15. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (1999)

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. 


16. The Lovin’ Spoonful (2000)

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. 


17. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2002)

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. 


18. Talking Heads (2002)

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.