These are the shortest retirements by big rock and metal bands.

Retirement doesn’t seem to suit most rock stars. With very few exceptions, if your favorite artist announces a farewell tour you can probably expect to see them back on the road in a few years.

Some acts don’t even make it to the end of their retirement tours before changing their minds. In 2011 both Judas Priest and the Scorpions announced farewell tours only to announce mid-tour that they had changed their minds. “[It was] kind of stupid to announce it,” Scorpions guitarist Mathias Jabs admitted in 2017. “It’s getting a bit ridiculous when you say it and don’t do it, so we won’t do it again.”

In April of 2018, Lynyrd Skynyrd announced that their last-ever show would take place that September in their home town of Jacksonville, Florida. Two months later, they added an extra leg of dates to their tour, and later acknowledged that the band would continue performing live, just with a reduced schedule. As of 2024 Skynyrd remains an active touring band, even following the 2023 death of their last founding member, guitarist Gary Rossington.

“I was talking to the guys and they said, ‘You know what’s the best part of a farewell tour?,'” Skynyrd singer Johnny Van Zant joked while discussing the scrapped retirement plans. “I said, ‘No, what’s that?’ They said, ‘The reunion tour!’”

Here, in no particular order, is a rundown of other classic rock stars who quickly thought better of their retirement plans:

KISS: April 13, 2001 – Aug. 2, 2003

KISS’ 1996 original lineup reunion was a huge success, but after a few years of nearly non-stop touring the personality conflicts that had fractured the band in the early ’80s reared up again. So in early 2000 KISS launched their first (but not last) farewell tour.

However it didn’t take long after the final show – which took place without the already departed founding drummer Peter Criss on April 13, 2001 in Gold Coast, Australia – to realize KISS wouldn’t really be going away. After appearing live at the 2002 Olympics, the band said goodbye to original lead guitarist Ace Frehley, brought Criss back and launched a co-headlining tour with Aerosmith on Aug. 2, 2003.

After that tour KISS once again replaced Criss with their Revenge-era drummer Eric Singer and continued touring steadily for the next two decades before finally performing the last show of their End of the Road farewell tour on Dec. 2, 2023.

“It just became ugly and no fun,” Paul Stanley later said of the band’s short-lived reunion with Criss and Frehley. “The farewell tour was us wanting to put KISS out of its misery. And for a while, honestly, we lost sight that we didn’t have to stop – we had to get rid of them.”

Watch KISS Perform Their Last 2001 Farewell Show

Elton John: Nov. 3, 1977 – Feb. 4, 1979

After hinting at it during a seven-night 1976 stand at Madison Square Garden, Elton John announced that he was done performing live during a November 1977 show in London . “I’ve made a decision tonight that this is going to be the last show,” he declared. “There’s a lot more to me than playing on the road and this is the last one I’m going to do.”

“My opinion [about retirement] changed all the time, depending on my mood, with predictably demented results,” John explained in his 2019 autobiography Me. “One day I wold be perfectly happy at home, telling anyone who’d listen about how wonderful it was not being shackled to the old cycle of touring. … The next day, I‘d be on the phone to Stiff Records, offering my services as a keyboard player on their upcoming package tour.” Sure enough, John returned to the road in early 1979. He played the last show of his years-long Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in July of 2023, but has promised to continue playing the occasional live concert.

Watch Elton John Announce His Retirement

Ozzy Osbourne: Nov. 15, 1992 – June 9, 1995

Announcing that he intended to spend more time with his family after what turned out to be an inaccurate multiple sclerosis diagnosis, Ozzy Osbourne launched the No More Tours farewell trek in 1992. He reunited with his former band Black Sabbath for four-song sets at the close of the last two shows, Nov. 14 and 15 in Costa Mesa, Calif.

But Osbourne quickly tired of the quiet life, and launched the aptly named Retirement Sucks tour on June 9, 1995. He split his time between a solo career and work with Black Sabbath over the next two decades, until the group concluded their own farewell tour on Feb. 4, 2017. The following year Osbourne launched a second solo farewell tour – humorously titled No More Tours 2 – but a combination of serious health issues and the COVID pandemic forced him to repeatedly delay and ultimately cancel the remainder of the tour, although he has expressed his desire to perform at least one more time to say farewell to his fans.

Watch Ozzy Osbourne Perform at the Final ‘No More Tours’ Show

Black Sabbath: Dec. 22, 1999 – April 7, 2001

Despite labeling their 1999 Ozzfest appearances as “The Last Supper” and their “final performance ever in the USA,” Black Sabbath returned for another round of touring in 2001. Over a decade and a half later they played what was billed as their last-ever concert on Feb. 4, 2017 – and so far have not returned.

Watch Black Sabbath Perform ‘War Pigs’ in 1999

Motley Crue: Dec. 31, 2015 – June 16, 2022

In January 2014 Motley Crue went to unprecedented lengths to assure fans that their first farewell tour would also be their last farewell tour, singing what they called a “Cessation of Touring Agreement” that prevented them from taking the stage together again.

“I mean, the Who is cool and all but, guys, really?” Nikki Sixx declared in 2015. “They’re playing half-full places with just two guys left in the band. I get it. They’re entitled to that But it’s just not for us.”

Less than four years after their Dec. 31, 2015 farewell show, Motley Crue posted a video in which they literally blew up that “Cessation of Touring Agreement” and announced that they would be returning to the road in the summer of 2020. The COVID pandemic pushed that date back two full years, but their 2022-23 co-headlining stadium tour with Def Leppard was a huge success. After a nasty split with founding guitarist Mick Mars, Motley Crue is down to three original members and will perform at a handful of festivals and state fair shows in 2024.

 Watch Motley Crue Start Their First Reunion Show

Slayer: Nov. 30, 2019 – Sept. 20, 2024 (Upcoming)

Less than five years after bidding their fans farewell with a fierce “Angel of Death,” an emotional speech and some kind of ceremonial chain drop, Slayer announced that they will be returning to the road this fall. “Nothing compares to the 90 minutes when we’re onstage playing live, sharing that intense energy with our fans,” singer and bassist Tom Araya said while announcing their return, “and to be honest, we have missed that.”

Watch Slayer Bid Their Fans Farewell

Dead & Company: July 16, 2023 – May 16, 2024 (Upcoming)

Although Dead & Company‘s July 16, 2023 performance in San Francisco was billed as the final show of their farewell tour, the group were always careful to leave a loophole in their retirement plans. “Don’t worry, we will all be out there in one form or another until we drop,” Bob Weir declared while announcing the tour. Turns out Las Vegas’ new Sphere venue fit perfectly into that loophole, as the band will kick off a residency there in May 2024.

Watch the Final Song of Dead & Company’s Farewell Tour

Peter Frampton: Nov. 16, 2022 – Jan. 22, 2023

After revealing that he had been diagnosed with inclusion-body myositis in 2019, Peter Frampton embarked on a farewell tour, concerned that he would not be able to play guitar up to the standards he desired. Happily in early 2023 he revealed that he would be able to continue touring for a while longer.

“At the end of every Finale Tour show I did say, ‘Never Say Never’ and I am always full of hope for the impossible,” Frampton said while announcing his Never Say Never tour. “I’m very pleased to let you know that I am feeling strong and my fingers are still roaming the fretboard. Every note I play now has more meaning and soul. I love playing live and this fighter wants to stay in the ring for as long as he can.”

Watch Peter Frampton Perform at Royal Albert Hall in 2022

The Doobie Brothers: Sept. 11, 1982 – May 21, 1987

Burned out by the hectic touring and recording pace they had maintained for over a decade, the Doobie Brothers announced their summer 1982 tour would be their last. Five years later drummer Keith Knudsen recruited nearly a dozen Doobie Brothers alumni to perform at what was intended to be a one-off benefit concert to add Vietnam veterans. With tickets in high demand that show quickly became a tour, which led the group (minus Michael McDonald) to stage a full-fledged reunion in 1989.

Watch the Doobie Brothers’ 1982 Farewell Concert

Phish: Aug. 15, 2004 – March 6, 2009

By their own account, a very burned-out Phish didn’t go out on a high note prior to their 2004 breakup. “If there was ever a concert that represented a band smacking into a wall, that was it,” drummer Jon Fishman told the New York Times about the band’s farewell show. After a half-decade of rest and solo projects, the group returned to a thunderous ovation on March 6, 2009 at the Hampton Coliseum.

Watch Phish Return to the Stage in 2009

Ministry: July 19, 2008 – June 17, 2012

Prior to launching 2008’s C U LaTour farewell tour, Ministry leader Al Jourgensen dismissed the idea of a future reunion: “Who am I gonna get to reunionize with? I’m the fucking band,” he asked Metal Hammer. A few years later, while working on record from his country side project Buck Satan, he began goofing around on other material and suddenly realized he was halfway done making a Ministry record. “I didn’t really want to do anything with them but [guitarist] Mike Scaccia was like, ‘Dude, these songs are awesome.” The band released the appropriately named Relapse in 2012 and returned to the road, but with a lighter tour schedule than before.

Watch Ministry Launch Their 2012 Defibrillatour

The Who: Dec. 17, 1982 – June 21, 1989

After Pete Townshend expressed a desire for the Who to leave the road behind and become a studio band, the group launched a farewell tour that concluded at the end of 1982. After being moved by the induction speeches at the 1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he reconsidered his stance. “I suddenly thought, ‘This is shit. They want us to come back and tour, and this is their music. It’s not my fucking music,'” he told Rolling Stone. “And I suddenly felt that I’d been obstructive, obdurate and obstinate. All the obs. And I thought that I should get my shit together.” The band recruited nearly a dozen backing musicians for their 1989 The Kids Are Alright tour, leading some displeased fans and critics to refer to the tour as “The Who on Ice.”

Watch the Who Launch Their 1989 Reunion Tour

The Black Crowes: Feb. 8, 2014 – Nov. 11, 2019

Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes didn’t just break up the band in 2015, the brothers spent years without speaking to each other before their 2019 reunion. While some fans were upset that they didn’t invite any other members of the band back into the fold, Rich explained that it couldn’t happen any other way. “We were both, right off the bat, ‘No one from the past in the band. It’s still precarious between us – you throw a bunch of that old shit around, entrenched patterns of behavior, and it’s just gonna trigger again.”

Watch the Black Crowes’ First Reunion Show

The Go-Go’s: Jan. 18, 1985 – March 27, 1990

Although the band presented a unified front while touring behind the album, the difficult recording sessions for 1984’s Talk Show had fractured the Go-Gos. “There were fights,” guitarist Charlotte Caffey recalled. “Physical, verbal. There were big fights.” Guitarist and songwriter Jane Wiedlin quit after the group’s next tour, with singer Belinda Carlisle and Caffey following soon after. Five years later the band reunited for the first of what would be several times over the next two decades. Following their 2021 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the group called it quits. “That’s kind of the pinnacle,” Carlisle explained. “It doesn’t get much bigger.”

Watch the Go-Go’s Perform Live in 1990

The Smashing Pumpkins – Dec. 2, 2000 – May 22, 2007

After declaring during a live radio interview that he and his bandmates were “at the end of our road emotionally, spiritually, and musically,” Billy Corgan announced the impending breakup of the Smashing Pumpkins. The band concluded their career with a four-and-a-half hour show in their hometown of Chicago. After failing to reach the same musical heights with his follow-up band Zwan, Corgan returned seven years later with a reconfigured version of the Pumpkins. “I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams,” he wrote in full page ads which appeared in both of Chicago’s major newspapers.

Watch the Smashing Pumpkins Perform at their Final 2000 Show

Status Quo: July 21, 1984 – April 27, 1986

“Everybody was coked-up and hating each other,” Francis Rossi told Classic Rock about what was intended to be Status Quo’s farewell tour, which concluded in July of 1984. Within a year the group, minus Rossi’s fellow co-founder Alan Lancaster, began work on a new album. After a nasty but brief legal battle, the new-look Status Quo returned to the road in 1986, a tour which included dates opening for Queen.

Watch Status Quo’s 1984 Farewell Tour

Ween: Dec. 31, 2011 – Feb. 12, 2016

In 2012 Aaron Freeman, better known as the Gene Ween half of Ween, announced that he was leaving the group in order to focus on his sobriety. His childhood friend and longtime bandmate Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween), was immediately and publicly skeptical. “As long as Aaron and I are both alive on this planet, Ween is still together,” he declared. “This isn’t something you can quit. This is a life sentence.” The group did indeed reunite in early 2016 and continues touring to this day – although they have yet to release a new album since 2007’s La Cucaracha.

Watch Ween’s First Reunion Concert

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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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