News has come over the last week that influential emo-rock band Weezer is calling it quits. Or, at least singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo has said as much, telling MTV, “Really, for the moment, we are done. And I’m not certain we’ll ever make a record again, unless it becomes really obvious to me that we need to do one.” Does that not sound like the most half-hearted break-up since Pamela Anderson first left Tommy Lee?
But, it’s appropriate that big bands now sign off with a “never say never” attitude. When was the last time a mega-successful band truly remained broken up? Instead, the music world is cluttered with reunion tours and “hiatuses” vs. “splits.” We live in a world where the Rolling Stones still make records, Black Sabbath gives new meaning to the words “farewell tour,” and the Pixies defied almost all odds and even dislike for one another to get back in the game again. It used to be, your lead singer had to die for a band to stay truly kaput (Nirvana), while there’s always been exceptions (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Or, there’s enough members (the Wu-Tang Clan) to ensure one members’ death won’t kill the act. But now, we have TV show competitions dedicated to replacing deceased singers, such as Rock Star: INXS. The Who and The New York Dolls are out on the road, even with half the original lineup.
At the end of the day, there’s just too much money to be made on the road (and too much financial debt owed for most of these hard-partying legends) for a “classic rock band” to stay truly and completely broken up. The two biggest bands that managed to keep their integrity in rock history, are probably the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin famously tried and failed (with Phil Collins on drums!) at the original Live Aid, and we won’t count the momentary ’90s output of Page/Plant (even though, by Who standards, that counts as a full-fledged Zeppelin reunion). So with that math, it leaves the Beatles as the one major rock band who broke up and stayed that way. For a band full of revolutionary accolades, even their demise was ahead of its time.