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Desert Trip II: 13 Acts That May (or May Not) Perform

If “Oldchella” comes back this year, we’re guessing that Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Elton John and others might be on the bill

Desert Trip organizers have yet to announce whether or not the festival is going to return this fall, but considering that last year’s event grossed a staggering $160 million – a new industry world record – it seems like a safe bet. The main reason 150,000 tickets vanished within seconds last year is that Goldenvoice/AEG assembled six of the biggest names in rock (Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Neil Young, Roger Waters and Paul McCartney) for a once-in-a-lifetime show. They’d never appeared on a single bill before and likely never will again. Topping that lineup will be practically impossible, but that doesn’t mean the organizers won’t try. Here’s a look at 13 acts that are probably at least under consideration, if not actually under contract at this very moment. (A rep for Desert Trip told us they had “no info” about the status of Desert Trip II.)

Fleetwood Mac

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Fleetwood Mac

Why They’ll Play: They are one of the few mega-bands of the 1970s still touring with their complete classic lineup. Their popularity seems to only grow every year and the 2014-15 On With the Show tour pulled in $199.2 million across 120 gigs. They’ve taken a break over the past couple of years so Stevie Nicks can focus on her solo career, but they’ve indicated that another tour kicking off late this year is in the works. What better way to start it if off than at Desert Trip II?

Why They Won’t Play: Things are a little rocky in Fleetwood Mac world at the moment. Stevie Nicks says she doesn’t want to record a new album, leaving Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie to create one as a duo. That’s coming out later the year, and it’s unclear if they plan on promoting it with any sort of tour. If Mick Fleetwood and John McVie back them, we could see the odd sight of a Stevie-free Fleetwood Mac on the road. Meanwhile, Stevie’s American arena tour with the Pretenders was a huge success and another leg was added that runs through early April. She’s also playing a London date with Tom Petty in July. All this activity could conceivably push the next round of Fleetwood Mac activity to 2018. 

Eric Clapton

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Eric Clapton

Why He’ll Play: Health problems kept him off the road through much of 2016, but he’s playing a series of major gigs in New York, London and Los Angeles this year that he’s saying could be his last. (We’ve heard that before, though.) What better way to wrap up everything than in front of 80,000 diehards on the Coachella grounds? He’s one of the biggest 1960s-era touring acts that didn’t play last year. It’s hard to imagine him not getting the call for this one, and his final shows on the books right now are in Los Angeles this September, one month before Desert Trip was held last year.

Why He Won’t Play: Damage to Clapton’s nervous system has made playing the guitar painful and difficult for him. It’s very possible the 11 shows he currently has booked are it for him. He might want to end his performing career at one of his own gigs, not as part of a broader festival where he isn’t the focus. 

Aerosmith

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Aerosmith

Why They’ll Play: The original Desert Trip centered around acts that began in the 1960s. It makes sense to move things up a decade for the next one. Aerosmith is another rare group like Fleetwood Mac that still has the complete classic lineup. They’re also going on a farewell tour this year they’re calling Aero-Vederci Baby! As long as Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have breaths in their bodies, Aerosmith will probably continue, but that is a great way to sell tickets to a tour. It’s also a nice excuse to get them a primo payday for Desert Trip II.

Why They Won’t Play: They’ve never been a band to leave money on the table, but so far they haven’t announced a single American date for 2017. This will likely be a very, very long farewell tour and this year may focus exclusively on overseas markets. That may push off a Desert Trip appearance until 2018.

Elton John

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Elton John

Why He’ll Play: Presuming this is indeed a show centered around 1970s acts, they don’t come much bigger than Elton John. He’s a road warrior that balances his Las Vegas residency with arena shows all over the globe and even the occasional wedding and private party for billionaires like Robert Kraft. If you’ve got a spare 2 or 3 million dollars he’ll come play your party too, so Desert Trip II is certainly a gig he’d accept.

Why He Won’t Play: The biggest reason we can see this possibly not happening is if he’s got a conflict of some sort, but as of now October is totally clear on his schedule. Beyond that, the organizers might want to book an act that doesn’t have a regular gig just a short drive away in Las Vegas. It may not quite feel unique and special enough.

Billy Joel

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Billy Joel

Why He’ll Play: He hasn’t released an album of original pop songs since 1993’s River of Dreams, but that hasn’t stopped him from selling more concert tickets than just about any other solo act on the planet. He sells out Madison Square Garden every single month (shattering records in the process) and every summer he goes out and packs baseball stadiums. He likes big, historic events like Last Play at Shea, so Desert Trip seems like something he’d dig.

Why He Won’t Play: The organizers can only fit so many acts on the bill. Maybe they scored some huge reunions and are gonna save Billy for another year. Also, they might want to book an Elton John–Billy Joel evening, but the artists’ ongoing rift may make that difficult. 

Led Zeppelin

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Led Zeppelin

Why They’ll Play: Topping last year’s historic bill will be next to impossible. Goldenvoice/AEG won’t want this year to look like the B list. To accomplish that, they need to do something huge and historic. There’s no better way to do that than booking Led Zeppelin. They haven’t played since their one-off London gig 10 years ago, and this would guarantee a sellout at whatever ticket price they set.

Why They Won’t Play: Robert Plant has made it abundantly clear that there’s no amount of money in the world that will get him to play with Led Zeppelin again. Besides, in the highly unlikely event that he changes his mind, they could just do their own show. Why share the glory? This is the sort of thing where organizers have to put in the call, but they know the answer going in. Not going to happen. 

Pink Floyd

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Pink Floyd

Why They’ll Play: This is the only possible reunion as big as Led Zeppelin. It alone would make this a bigger deal than the original Desert Trip, which had Roger Waters singing Floyd songs on his own.

Why They Won’t Play: David Gilmour. They can’t do it without him for obvious reasons, and he’s in the same school as Robert Plant. He’s got more money than he’ll ever spend and he does not want to do this. Also, Roger Waters will be deep into his own tour when this comes around. There’s a better chance of Jimi Hendrix coming back from the dead to headline.

The Kinks

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The Kinks

Why They’ll Play: Desert Trip II needs a big reunion to seem like an historic event. Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd simply ain’t happening. The Kinks, however, are a different story. Dave and Ray Davies both say they are open to re-forming. They even shared a stage in 2015 for the first time since 1996. The Kinks were never as big in America as many of their British Invasion rivals, but their first show in 21 years would truly be worthy of a primo spot on the Desert Trip II lineup.

Why They Won’t Play: Whenever Ray and Dave talk about a reunion, they always says it’s at least a year away. They’ve been saying that for years. Simply put, Dave and drummer Mick Avory have never gotten over their ancient beef. According to Ray, that rift is a major factor in holding back a reunion. Resurrecting the Kinks after all these years is a major undertaking and it just doesn’t seem like either Ray or Dave are motivated to make it happen. 

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Why They’ll Play: Many were shocked that Springsteen wasn’t booked at the original Desert Trip, but he started a generation later than all the acts that played the fest last year. Bringing him in for the second incarnation seems like a no-brainer, and if it’s his only U.S. show this year with the E Street Band the faithful will pay any price to get in. And it’ll certainly not be cheap.

Why They Won’t Play: Bruce isn’t one to play big shows when he’s not in tour mode, and he also avoids events with high ticket prices and VIP sections. Unlike many of his peers, he doesn’t play private events for big bucks and he’s never licensed out his music for commercials. If he doesn’t play, it’ll only be because he refused to do it. For him to not even get the offer is unimaginable.

U2

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U2

Why They’ll Play: As a group that started in the 1980s they may be the new kids on this block, but they pack the same stadiums as the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Roger Waters. They’re hitting the road in a big way this year, even playing Bonnaroo. Capping it off with a triumphant set at Desert Trip may finally make everyone forget about the iTunes auto-download fiasco.

Why They Won’t Play: By the time Desert Trip comes around in October, U2 will be done looking backwards on the Joshua Tree tour and will have begun looking ahead to Songs of Experience and a new arena tour. Desert Trip is inherently a nostalgia show and they may not be thrilled for another show geared to their past. Also, Bonnaroo is a big exception. This is not a group that plays big festivals, no matter how much money they get offered.

The Police

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The Police

Why They’ll Play: Coachella built its name on reunions, getting everyone from the Stooges to Guns N’ Roses to reform on their stage. Since Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd simply aren’t going to happen, they might turn their attention towards the Police. They haven’t played since the final show of their 2007-08 reunion tour. It would be a huge get, and a chance for the trio to play one final time.

Why They Won’t Play: They played 151 shows in 2007-08, grossing $362 million. That’s not even factoring in sponsorship deals and merchandise sales. Simply put, none of these guys need to ever work again. Sting is currently promoting a new solo album. He said over and over that the reunion tour was a one-shot deal. It’s hard to see him going back on that, even for a ridiculous payday.

Tina Turner

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Tina Turner

Why She’ll Play: It’s been eight years since Tina Turner concluded her 50th-anniversary tour. She may be 77, but Tina is an unstoppable force of nature. If she wanted to, she could put the tight pants and high heels back on and go out there and absolutely kill it. Besides, Desert Trip shouldn’t go another year without a female headliner. Who better to break the boys’ club than Tina?

Why She Won’t Play: Not only is she insanely rich, but her husband, Erwin Bach, is also worth an absolute fortune. They live in Switzerland in happy seclusion. Breathing in desert dust as she dances around to “Proud Mary” for the 10,000th time probably isn’t her idea of a good time just three years away from her 80th birthday.

Simon & Garfunkel

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Simon and Garfunkel

Why They’ll Play: A $15 million paycheck might be enough to convince them to start speaking again, at least for two weekends in October.

Why They Won’t Play: It probably isn’t. Goldenvoice/AEG might have to give them the whole $160 million in order to have a chance.