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Beyond Buffalo Springfield: A History Of Short-Lived Reunions

Not all band reunions last – Here’s a look at some that seemed to be over before they began

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Earlier this month, Neil Young confirmed widespread suspicion that last year's Buffalo Springfield reunion was over after a mere seven-show tour. "I have to be able to move forward," he said.  "I can't be relegated. I did enough of it for right then." But they aren't the first band to reform with great fanfare, only to collapse again pretty quickly. Here's a look at some others. 

By Andy Greene

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Electric Light Orchestra

Break-Up: In the summer of 1986, the group (now reduced to a trio) toured in support of their new disc Balance of Power, and then called it a day. Members of the group carried on in ELO Part II, but the group's leader Jeff Lynne was done. (Even later, The Orchestra rose from the ashes of ELO Part II, but they were an offshoot of an offshoot and barely worth mentioning.)

Reunion: Lynne always saw himself as the Trent Reznor of ELO, and when he reformed the group in 2000 for the new album Zoom he didn't invite any of the original guys back – though keyboardist Richard Tandy did wind up playing on one song. For some reason, Lynne was under the impression the group could still fill arenas and a massive tour was announced. 

Duration: One album and one TV concert. This was like one of those 1950s rockets that crashed a few moments after takeoff. The group did a single show for PBS, but the tour sold horribly and the entire thing was called off before it even started. Lynne's done a pretty good job of staying out of the spotlight ever since, though he remains a busy producer. 

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The Supremes

Break-Up: Diana Ross left The Supremes in 1970, but they carried on with new singer Jean Terrell and continued to score hits and tour for a few years. By 1977 things had slowed down considerably and they called it quits.

Reunion: Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong briefly put aside their differences with Diana Ross at the 1983 Motown 25th Anniversary Concert. (Founding member Florence Ballard died in 1976.) They performed "Someday We'll Be Together." Three years later, Wilson released her memoir and it was sharply critical of Ross, driving the two even further apart. In 1999 Ross reached out to Wilson and Birdsong about a reunion tour for the following year, exactly 30 years after they had last played a full show together.

Duration: This one went really, really poorly. According to multiple reports, Ross was offered around $15 million, Wilson was offered $2 million and Birdsong $1 million. They asked for more, but were ultimately replaced by two latter-day Supremes who had no history with Ross. This resulted in a flood of negative press, and ticket buyers seemed to have little interest in this "reunion." The tour forged ahead, but was canceled after less than a month. 

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Break-Up: Cream crammed a lot of music into their two-year career. According to legend, Eric Clapton decided to break up in the band in 1968 when he first heard the Band's debut LP Music From Big Pink, and when he read a scathing review of the group's music in Rolling Stone by Jon Landau. In November of 1968 they played a farewell show at Madison Square Garden. 

Reunion: The group played in 1993 at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but that didn't lead to any other activity until 2005. At the time Jack Bruce was recovering from liver cancer, and Ginger Baker was struggling with arthritis.  To Clapton, it seemed like it was now or never. They played four shows at the Royal Albert Hall in May of 2005, followed by three shows at Madison Square Garden that October.

Duration: Five months. The reunion fizzled out during the three-night stand in New York. "In many ways, I wish we had left it at the Royal Albert Hall," Clapton wrote in his memoir. "But the offer was too good to refuse … My heart had gone out of it, and also a certain amount of animosity had crept back in." They haven't played together since. 

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Break-Up: In 1997 Genesis made the ill-fated decision to carry on without Phil Collins. Former Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson was brought into the band, and they released the new LP Calling All Stations. The disc sold extremely poorly, as did their tour. Ticket sales were so bad in America that the entire tour was called off. The tour ended in May of 1998 in Germany, and the group quietly ended afterwards.

Reunion: In November of 2005 Phil Collins came to Glasgow on his First Final Farewell tour. Backstage he met up with his former bandmates Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford to discuss a reunion tour. The plan was to perform their 1975 rock opera The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway straight through. Gabriel only wanted to do a tiny number of dates, and when he felt pressure to commit to a longer tour he bowed out of the whole thing. With him out of the picture, the 1980s line-up of Collins, Banks and Rutherford decided to tour instead. In 2007 they did 47 dates across Europe and North America.

Duration: Four months. The tour ended at the Hollywood Bowl in October of 2007. On the tour Collins dislocated some vertebrae  in his neck. It caused nerve damage in his hands, making it nearly impossible for him to play drums. Collins is now completely retired from music, and any sort of Genesis reunion seems incredibly unlikely. 

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