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A History of Partial Band Reunions: From the Supremes to Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins may be going onto the road without D’arcy Wretzky, but they’re hardly the first group to reunite without a core member

The Smashing Pumpkins corgan journey

Read our history of bands that have left a key member behind when they reformed, including Black Sabbath, Guns N' Roses and the Supremes.

Mike Pont/WireImage, C Flanigan/FilmMagic

The Smashing Pumpkins just announced an extensive arena tour where frontman Billy Corgan will be joined by original members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin, but nowhere in the press release does the word “reunion” actually appear. That might be because, as most everyone knows by now, founding bassist D’arcy Wretzky is not expected to take part in it. She’s been almost completely silent since leaving the band in 1999, but she made up for lost time this month by releasing Corgan’s private text messages to Alternative Nation and granting a rare interview where she blasted him over and over. “I honestly think he may have a brain tumor,” she said. “He’s always been insufferable.”

Comments like that make it hard to imagine Corgan welcoming her back into the fold anytime soon, and it remains unknown just exactly how well the tour will do without her. They are promising to play nothing but classics from their Nineties run and Iha hasn’t toured with the band since they split in 2000, but D’arcy is revered by the fan base. Whatever happens, it won’t be the first time a group attempted to reunite without a core member. Here’s a look back at eight other times that happened. (Note: We aren’t counting cases like the Eagles reunions where former members that left prior to the breakup weren’t invited back. We also aren’t counting situations like the Pixies or Kiss where someone left years after a reunion.)

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Olivia Bee

The Replacements

Missing Member: Drummer Chris Mars, 2013 to 2015.

Background: The only two consistent members throughout the entire history of the Replacements was frontman Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson, though drummer Chris Mars was on everything up until the final tour in 1991. (He was replaced by Steve Foley, who died in 2008. Founding guitarist Bob Stinson, who left in 1986, died in 1995.) The group stunned fans by reforming for a tour in 2013, though Stinson and Westerberg were the only legit members returning. Chris Mars has been inactive from the music scene for many years and is now a painter. He declined to participate. Josh Freese took his place and Dave Minehan played guitar.

Impact on Reunion: None. Replacements fans were so stoked to finally see Westerberg and Stinson back onstage that they didn’t care who else played with them. Everyone loves Chris Mars, but his absence didn’t mean all that much to anyone but the most intense Replacements fans that weren’t going to miss out on this tour.

Odds of a True Reunion: If they get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they might all play together again. Short of that, any sort of a Replacements tour (even without Mars) seems like an outside bet. Every night on the last leg of reunion tour, Westberg wore a T-shirt with different letters on it. Nobody knew what it meant, but in the end they spelled out a sad message: “I have always loved you. Now I must whore my past.” “He must have not been happy for a good long time during that second year, to have to muster that up,” Stinson told Rolling Stone in 2017. “I had a ball playing those songs, revisiting them and all. I just don’t get it. It was like, ‘Wow, dude. So you’ve been thinking it’s been a drag for this long, huh? Why the fuck are we doing it then?'”

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