As time marches on, the lifespan of even the biggest, best, and most beloved bands can only grow shorter. This notion seems to hold especially true for superstar hard rock and heavy metal outfits. Even though A-list stadium-packers on the order of U2 and the Rolling Stones are hitting the road this summer with no apparent end in sight for them, the more extreme end of the classic rock canon looks (and sounds) primed to start crumbling.
Most of the hard-and-heavy groups nearing permanent out-to-pasture status are already operating with crucial original members missing— either due to “creative differences” or no-longer-among-the-living differences.
While we hate to see any of our favorites go, it’s kind of fun to make the call before the fact. With that in mind, let’s count down the next five superstar hard rock and heavy metal bands most likely to break up in the very near future.
Odds of Making It to 2016: 2-1
As recently as last week, Kiss floated a rumor online about recording a “return-to-roots” album and embarking on a world tour toward the end of 2016. There’s little reason to doubt such reports, given the group’s tireless tenacity. There is, however, reason to wonder if this next phase of Kiss is going to contain the same make-up (pun most definitely intended) of the Kiss we’ve known and lovingly rocked out to all along.
Throughout 2014, some fairly credible noise bubbled up online regarding Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley—Kiss’s founders and two remaining original members—someday stepping down from the group and having other musicians take over their respective Kiss roles as bassist The Demon and rhythm guitarist/frontman the Star Child. There was even talk of a Kiss reality TV competition to find Gene and Paul’s replacements.
While present Kiss drummer Eric Singer has stated he wouldn’t be interested in playing without Gene and Paul, manager Dog McGhee stated: “I believe that KISS can go on forever. I believe that there is a way – and we are talking to people and we’re pretty close to getting it done – about finding the four new members of KISS.”
VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show host Eddie Trunk reported the news first in July 2014, and added: “The plan is closer than ever to happening… maybe two years away from launching.” That would put a start date for Kiss II at 2016. The clock is ticking….
The WhoGetty Images
Odds of Making It to 2016: 3-1
The Who has been Half-a-Who since 2002, a stature they unfortunately reached immediately following the death of bassist John Entwistle on the very eve of the group’s U.S. tour. With the blessing of John’s son Christopher Entwistle, bandmates Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey soldiered on without The Ox on bass for the first time. The Who have toured semi-regularly ever since, reaping particular success with a traveling Quadrophenia show in 2013.
In 2015, the Who has decamped on what Townshend and Daltrey “last big tour.” Daltrey further explained: “We have to be realistic about our age. The touring is incredibly grinding on the body and we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere.”
With both Townshend and Daltrey past age 70 now, such words would seem both wise and plausible. Still, among the Who’s myriad rock culture innovations is the “series of farewell tours.” The band’s first “last show” occurred on December 17, 1982. Along with fellow heavy hitters Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, the Who reunited for Live Aid in 1985, and the four years later, they hit the road anew to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their founding. Since then, they haven’t slowed down all that much.
Bearing that record in mind, it’s reasonable to think that, like the Stones, Townshend and Daltrey are going to keep playing live as the Who all over the planet until the last of the two is carried off of whatever turns out to be their final venue. Still, septuagenarian status is what it is, so, literally, only time will tell.
Odds of Making It to 2016: 6.66-1
Another monstrous metal machine performing with just half its classic lineup, Slayer has endured better-than-respectably in the wake of 2013, a year that redefined bad luck for the group by way of founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman dying and an ugly split with Dave Lombardo, the band’s longtime drummer.
Initially, those back-to-back blows looked like they would sink Slayer on the spot. However, frontman Tom Araya and guitar beast Kerry King have raged forward with Exodus members Gary Holt on lead guitar and Paul Bostaph on drums. The group even recently announced that their eleventh studio album, Repentless, would drop on September 11, 2015.
Just last week, however, Slayer split with lifelong collaborator Rick Rubin’s American Recordings label. “Solidarity is far stronger than jumping ship and going somewhere else,” explained Kerry King. “I thought we’d still be on American — but when we got the offer from American, I was insulted. That, to me, just said, ’Good luck, you’re not gonna have good luck here anymore.’ So we found our new friends at Nuclear Blast.”
Nuclear Blast, of course, is a metal giant, but such an unexpected need to leap may (or may not) loosen the moorings of even the staunchest rock outfit. On top of that, Slayer has had to face social media torch-and-pitchfork mobs as never before in the wake of Hanneman’s tragic departure.
“The fans are pretty ruthless, man, and with social media, it’s bad,” Tom Araya said. “People have opinions. Some are positive, and a lot of them are pretty fucking negative. It’s hard to believe — especially considering these people are fans of the band… [but] nothing that I or Kerry say will change what some of these people think or feel.”
Whether Slayer makes it to 2016 seems to hinge on the reaction to Repentless. The power, in that case, rests in the hands of fans. Use it wisely.
Odds of Making It to 2016: 13-1
For the biggest, richest, most popular, and most powerful heavy metal band of all time, the past few years have taken a heavy toll on Metallica.
Yes, thrash’s all-time champions are the same survivors who have endured after kicking out guitarist Dave Mustaine in 1982, tragically losing bassist Cliff Burton in a 1986 bus accident, and all the horror that got aired publicly via the 2003 documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster.
Metallica’s more recent setbacks have largely been financial, and they’ve been absolutely cataclysmic: the band’s twice-D.O.A. Orion music festivals bleed millions and their 2013 3D concert film Metallica: Through the Never (which is great, by the way) went belly-up at the box office. On top of that, back in April, guitarist Kirk Hammett reported that he lost a cell phone containing up to 250 riffs for new Metallica songs.
The difference between these obstacles now and Metallica’s previous wrong turns is that, back then, the band still always had something new to prove. Circa 2015—what’s left?
Metallica will headline Lollapalooza 2015 in August and a new album is reportedly in progress, although no release date exists. In the meantime, various band members have embarked on other interesting projects. For example, Hammett has overseen two successful FearFestEvil horror gatherings in San Francisco and expectations among fans are for a third to happen next year, while bassist Robert Trujillo has produced the soon-to-be-released Jaco: A Documentary Film, about bass legend Jaco Pastorius.
As the boys get older and the waters get murkier, Metallica’s 2008 “comeback” Death Magnetic may well stand as the group’s final studio album (Lulu, their 2011 collaboration with Lou Reed, doesn’t count). Any sane fan of hard rock (or any rock, period) would get excited to hear new Metallica music and/or to catch them on another tour. Alas, that moment may have passed and, if it did, these guys have nothing for which to apologize (not anymore at least).
Odds of Making It to 2016: 69-1
The amount of times Aerosmith has been officially written off as finished is at least equal to every one of the band’s forty-five years of continuous existence.
The most recent Aerosmith-is-over groundswell to really take hold occurred back circa late 2009 when frontman Steven Tyler checked into rehab over some weird foot pain thing and guitarist Joe Perry said he wasn’t sure if Tyler was still in the group and that they’d happily replace him with another vocalist.
In short order thereafter, Tyler assured the world he was with Aerosmith and became a judge on American Idol in early 2010. That summer, while the band played Toronto, Perry hip-checked Tyler during “Love in an Elevator” and sent the singer flailing off the stage and into the crowd.
For the next few years, Aerosmith repeatedly denied they were breaking up while they were, in fact, working on a new album titled Music From Another Dimension! Don’t call it a comeback—because it wasn’t. The writing and recording of Another Dimension proved to be long and torturous, and, after debuting in 2012 at #5 on the Billboard chart, the record tanked. Come 2014, Joe Perry reasoned to Rolling Stone that it might well be the group’s final studio effort.
“Our contract to Sony is fulfilled and we’re free agents right now,” Perry said, “We’re trying to figure out what that means. I don’t even know if making new albums makes sense anymore. Maybe we’ll just release an EP every six months. I don’t know what the future looks like.”
Aerosmith is indeed on tour this summer, and they’ve certainly released no EPs in the interim. Instead, the public’s focus is on Steven Tyler’s country music debut, featuring “Love Is Your Name,” the first single from an album he announced from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and then recorded in Nashville. It has neither a title nor a release date yet, but Tyler’s country mojo looks serious—making Aerosmith’s look all that much more seriously dire.
Should the Steven Tyler downhome gambit hit paydirt, it seems likely he’ll remain solo rather than return to any stages where he’d ever again being in danger of getting bumped off by Joe Perry. In fact, even if Tyler’s country move goes boots up, it feels like he’s on his own now, permanently.
Frankly, without the two halves of Aerosmith’s Toxic Twins in their proper places (right alongside one another), whatever the band might call themselves after that, they just wouldn’t be Aerosmith. See them soon and seem them often, everybody. While you—or any of us—still can.