Rumors of seminal gangsta rap group N.W.A. returning to the stage for a reunion more than 20 years after the group first split have accompanied the release of “Straight Outta Compton” when it opens in theaters Friday, Aug. 14. The gossip is that Eminem will take deceased N.W.A. member Eazy-E’s place for on a possible European tour to promote the movie.
Like so many others before N.W.A., even the most famous, highly successful, supremely talented and absolutely adored acts find a breaking point.
Acrimony among band members, the ravages of years on the road and the negative effects of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll all take their toll eventually. Individual members of bands evolve differently and want to get away from the sound that made them popular. So they explore other avenues of music, no matter how misguided or commercially viable, and members go their own ways and often never reunite again.
Sometimes there are disagreements over the money, publishing rights, overseas sales and songwriting credits somehow always seem to pop up, too.
But aside from the least likely of unlikely reunion scenarios occurring — The Beatles playing together again without George Harrison or John Lennon, for example — if the founders of gangsta rap can now be celebrated as part of mainstream American culture and once-reviled N.W.A. can get back together, almost any reunion now seems possible.
You may not have thought it was possible that your favorite band would reunite, but you waited patiently with bated breath for the rumors on an obscure music blog to come true all the same. Here are five aged-rocker reunions that really did happen, so here’s to getting the band back together!
One of the most successful American bands of all time, the Eagles’ melodies dominated airwaves in the 1970s. But due to animosity among members, the band split up and each went their separate ways by the end of the decade.
Fans long hoped that the Eagles would reunite, and they eventually got that wish. After several members enjoyed successful solo careers, the Eagles came together again for a live album and tour in 1994 and have stayed together since. Even though founding member Glenn Frey said the band would only reunite “when hell freezes over,” which was aptly the title of that live album, for fans, it thankfully didn’t take that long.
Simply put, Van Halen was integral to any coming-of-age soundtrack in the 1980s. Under lead singer David Lee Roth, the band had its highest commercial success. But when Roth got it into his head that he didn’t need VH around and went solo, Van Halen recruited Sammy Hagar as its frontman in 1985.
In 2003, Van Halen went on hiatus. With the original brother-members, Eddie and Alex Van Halen, the band reunited in 2005 and 2006 with both Hagar and Roth. But despite VH’s huge success in becoming the 19th-best-selling band in U.S. history, that eternal question of who was a better frontman — and which one helped it achieved its apex — still burns brightly.
THE BEACH BOYS
For the group credited as being at the forefront of creating the “California Sound,” it wasn’t always all fun-in-the-sun. Though the Beach Boys released several mega-successful records, earned rock-God status and in 1988 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there were many casualties along the way. Founding members Dennis and Carl Wilson died, their brother Brian went solo, and the remaining band members have sued each other for millions in royalties.
But in 2011, despite deaths and feuds, the Beach Boys were reunited. And in 2012, they performed again for the band’s 50th anniversary. Unfortunately for fans, the good vibrations didn’t last long.
The next year a disagreement over tour dates and the lineup of performers caused another fault, and the Boys eventually split again. But who says a 75th-anniversary performance can’t happen? At that show, there might be some walkers onstage, but who cares, these guys are legendary. And the ladies, of course, will still swoon.
After Sting went solo and became a megastar on his own, it seemed like a Police reunion would never happen. While other members were counting their mere success in comparison, Sting was marrying actresses and supermodels while becoming an international pop icon.
After breaking up in 1986, the band that is partially credited with ushering in New Wave, as part of the second British invasion of the U.S., reunited briefly for a tour in 2007.
The one-off tour ended in 2008, but it’s a good thing Sting threw fellow members a bone because the reunion certainly impacted the bottom line. Record re-releases and tours helped the band top the 75-million-records-sold threshold, which made the Police one of the world’s best-selling musical acts of all-time.
Pop-punk rockers Blink-182 channeled the anti-authority message of earlier, more controversial bands who inspired them, but in a more juvenile and radio-friendly format. Partially due to this softer edge, the band that was founded outside of San Diego in 1992 was able to achieve much more commercial success than earlier, angrier, straight punk rock.
After enjoying lots of success, especially among younger listeners and on college campuses thanks to Warped Tour, the band was thrown into indefinite hiatus by original member Tom DeLonge departing in 2005. Unlike many of the bands above, the original trio reunited to produce another studio album, its sixth, in 2009. But, like the more famous and successful bands above, Blink-182 went to pieces again when DeLonge left a second time in 2015.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.