Flashback: VH1 Fails in Doomed Effort to Reunite the Smiths - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: VH1 Fails in Doomed Effort to Reunite the Smiths

In 2004, cable show ‘Bands Reunited’ attempted to pull off the impossible

For two wonderful years in the mid-2000s, VH1’s Bands Reunited set out to reform half-forgotten 1980s bands like ABC, Dramarama, Haircut One Hundred, Romeo Void and Klymaxx – and mostly succeeded. After all, these sorts of bands weren’t getting many offers for their own VH1 specials. A Vixen Behind The Music or Storytellers wasn’t going to happen, so most were happy when host Aamer Haleem burst into their home, office or knitting club with a camera crew. It was an opportunity to begin a comeback, or at least get a little attention after years of obscurity.

Occasionally the show got a bit ambitions and attempted to reunite higher-profile acts like New Kids on the Block, Squeeze and Extreme. These are groups that stand to gross actual money on the reunion circuit, millions in the case of NKOTB, and giving that away to a low-budget VH1 show didn’t make a lot of sense. In all three of those cases, however, they didn’t come close, even if the Knight Brothers were down for more New Kids and Gary Cherone wasn’t completely opposed to sharing the stage again with Nuno Bettencourt. (All three of those acts did ultimately reunite on their own terms.)

In May of 2004, Bands Reunited decided to try the impossible and reunite the Smiths. It was like going from building a paper airplane to making your own 747. Beyond the fact that Morrissey has said he’d rather “eat [his] own testicles” than ever do such a thing, their timing was horrid. Moz had just dropped his stunning comeback LP You Are the Quarry and was beginning a huge solo tour. He also isn’t exactly working in an office or listed in the phonebook like many of the figures showcased on Bands Reunited, so Haleem and his crew were forced to camp out near the Apollo Theater and wait for him to show up for a concert.

It’s quite possible other schemes in the history of mankind have been more doomed than this one, but none come to mind at the moment. Their actual plan was to yell out, “Hey Morrissey!” as he walked out of his car and somehow cajole him into an impromptu interview on the street. They’d then be like, “Hey, remember that time you were in the Smiths? You know how you’ve turned down about a billion dollars for a reunion tour? Well, how would you like to get back with with them our little VH1 show? All you’d have to do is submit to a long interview about the group’s breakup, and then sit in a little room with Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce, and Andy Rourke where you’ll hash out your differences on camera, and then play a little club show. We won’t pay you a dime.”

“The Smiths are the holy grail for us,” said Bands Reunited Executive Producer Julio Kollerbohm. “They’re one of the coolest bands in the world, and the whole entire network was dying for us to pull it off.” The crew arrived at the Apollo at 1:30 pm under the impression Morrissey was coming early for a soundcheck. A little over three hours later they were starving, so they picked up a bag of McDonalds hamburgers, which certainly would have endeared them to diehard vegetarian Morrissey had he showed up at the moment. In reality, his worst nightmare is a guy chomping on a McDonalds cheeseburger screaming about a Smiths reunion. His car didn’t pull up until 7:45 pm. They managed to scream out his name three times before the stage door shut. Their voices blended into all the other fans waiting nearby and Morrissey didn’t even turn his head. It couldn’t have gone worse.

They could have soldiered on and went after Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke, where they probably wound have found more luck, or at least been able to get an on-camera interview, but wiser heads prevailed. A Smiths reunion without Morrissey would be a sad joke, so they didn’t even try and went back to focusing on easier prey like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Berlin and Scandal. It’s twelve years later, and the Smiths are no closer to reforming. But here’s a tip to future television crews that want to make it happen. Order veggie burgers during your stakeout. It’ll reduce your odds to one in ten trillions from one in twenty trillion.

In This Article: The Smiths


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