From Buckethead to Queen: The Ten Weirdest Band Reunions

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Folks love a classic-rock reunion, even if, in the case of a band like Guns N' Roses, the event may seem to promise only disaster — and hefty paychecks for the band. In the hair-metal world, Florida-turned-Colorado band Tryxx reunited and made a movie about the whole thing. In February, a re-formed Ween will perform a highly anticipated reunion stand in Colorado. In what were likely to be less lucrative ventures, the history of beloved Denver bands, including the Fluid, Warlock Pinchers and others, reuniting for special occasions has been explored in the High Plains Underground Archive. The world has gone reunion-crazy, so it's a good time to remind ourselves that it doesn't always go as fans might hope. Below, we've compiled ten examples of bands getting back together — and getting weird.

10. Queen with Paul Rodgers
With Freddie Mercury long gone and solo projects not capturing anyone’s imaginations, Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen recruited their old pal Paul Rodgers, from Free and Bad Company, and started playing under the Queen name again. They even put out an album of new material, The Cosmos Rocks, as well as a live album, Return of the Champions. The reviews and reactions were mixed for various reasons, not least of which was because, as good of a rock singer as Rodgers is, he struggled with some of the band’s more operatic parts. The results are not a disaster, by any means, but they certainly fall into the “odd” category. But then this happened…

9. Queen with Adam Lambert
Some people felt that American Idol runner-up Lambert was a far more suitable replacement frontman than Rodgers, due to his ability to ape Mercury with some degree of success. But not us. It looked like a pale and tragic version of a once-great thing. At least with Rodgers, the band was looking to go a different route. With Lambert, it all seemed a bit cabaret.

8. Nirvana with Paul McCartney
Admittedly, this collaboration was not technically a reunion. But when Sir Paul McCartney pulled a band together with the three surviving members of Nirvana (if you include Pat Smear) for a show at Safeco Field in Seattle, it was impossible not to smile at the surreal image. Even Macca seemed bemused when he told audiences, “I’m in the middle of a Nirvana reunion.” The gloriously odd quartet played a new song called “Cut Me Some Slack" and no Nirvana classics, but that was enough. Still, we would have loved to have heard Paul have a bash at “Territorial Pissings.”

7. The Cars with Todd Rundgren
Just two original Cars members, Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes, took part in the New Cars, with the band filled out with Todd Rundgren plus former Tubes and Journey man "Prairie" Prince. They lasted from 2005 to 2007, releasing one live album and a single called “Not Tonight” before the surviving members of the original band reunited. But for two glorious years, the Cars were fronted by mega-producer and oddball solo artist Rundgren, and the world scratched its collective head.

6. The Doors with Ian Astbury
This one was really weird. If there was one band people thought that they would never see in the new millennium, it was the Doors. But there they were, touring as the Doors of the 21st Century, with the Cult’s Ian Astbury doing his best Jim Morrison impersonation night after night. It was one short step away from hiring Val Kilmer, who had portrayed Morrison on film. They might as well have done it: Astbury did nothing but ape the much-loved singer. But nope, they left that sort of thing to the Germs.

5. Germs with Shane West
Darby Crash, singer with LA punks the Germs, committed suicide in 1980 at the age of 22, and that, everyone assumed, was the end of the band. Guitarist Pat Smear went on to join Nirvana and then the Foo Fighters after Kurt Cobain committed suicide. But when a Germs biopic, What We Do is Secret, came out in 2007 with Shane West in the role of Crash, renewed interest in the band surged, and the Germs went out on tour again, with West again filling Crash's role as frontman. It was more than a little bit weird, an actor playing Crash on stage. The band has gone quiet again, but more gigs aren’t out of the question.

4. MC5 with Lisa Kekaula/Mark Arm/Handsome Dick Manitoba/Evan Dando
With two members deceased, the remaining three in the MC5 reformed in 2003, initially for a one-off gig in London, as the DKT/MC5 (taking the first letter from the remaining members Michael Davis, Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson). Rather than replace their fallen comrades outright, they pulled in a revolving cast of name musicians to fill the gaps, including Lisa Kekaula of the Bellrays, Mark Arm of Mudhoney, Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators and Evan Dando of the Lemonheads. Even Lemmy guested with the band now and again. The likes of Marshall Crenshaw, Nicke Royale of the Hellacopters and Gilby Clarke of Guns N’ Roses sat in on guitar. The gigs varied in quality, and it all came to an end a couple of years ago when bassist Michael Davis passed away.

3. INXS with J.D. Fortune
If you look at this list closely, these reunions usually stem from a singer dying and the rest of the band wanting to carry on playing the music that they love, and perhaps wrote. INXS took it to another level when they auditioned for a new singer in public, in the form of a reality-TV show competition. The eventual winner of Rock Star: INXS was Canadian singer-songwriter J.D. Fortune, a man completely lacking the charisma that made Michael Hutchence so fascinating, but with a decent set of pipes. Fortune was fired from the band in 2009 and then rehired for a 2011 tour, before the band split shortly afterward. 

2. Boston with Tommy DeCarlo
Brad Delp was the singer with Boston-based band Boston, but departed the band around 1990. Delp died in 2007, and in 2008, Boston hired a new lead singer: Tommy DeCarlo. The North Carolina amateur vocalist had been posting his renditions of Boston songs on MySpace (we’re not making this up) and had gotten the attention of band founder, lead guitarist and at-times only original member Tom Scholz as a result. DeCarlo remains a member of Boston, though his MySpace account is now largely inactive.

1. Guns N’ Roses with Buckethead
How do you replace iconic guitarist Slash? How about you pull in a guitarist/performance artist who wears a KFC bucket on his head and performs nunchuck solos during gigs? Guns N’ Roses hadn’t officially split following the departure of ninety percent of the band, but they went quiet for a long time. When they resurfaced with a new lineup and starting gigging again around 2000, it at least felt like a reunion. Now that Slash is back in G n’R, the Buckethead era seems a long, long time ago.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.