In music history, there are tons of great bands in the making that was on the edge of breaking up until sudden success hit them. Even the tiring music tours, creative and personality clashes make it seem all is worth it. However, some bands broke up after having their biggest career breakthroughs due to various circumstances. It could be the differences in artistic temperaments, decaying relationships that cannot be mended by a successful album. Some pulled it back together to see short-lived comebacks while others were unable to recapture the momentum they surrendered. Here are 5 iconic bands that broke up while they were successful.
1. 4 Non-Blondes (1989 - 1994)
The band’s career path changed after lead singer Linda Perry joined the group in 1989. She raised the San Francisco band’s profile and was signed by Interscope Records after opening for Primus at the Gavin Convention. Perry’s iconic style and memorable voice made her a non-expendable member of the band as determined by Interscope. Founding members guitarist and drummer Shaunna Hall and Wanda Day were gone from the lineup when the Blondes’ lone album, ‘Bigger, Better, Faster, More!’ was released in October 1992.
Despite hitting 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 with their 1993 single, “What’s Up?”, they never charted again in the U.S. The 4 Non-Blondes soldiered on a little longer in an attempt to record their sophomore album/ But the 4 non Blondes eventually fell apart.
2. New Radicals (1997-1999)
Gregg Alexander spent a decade being developed by the music industry in the 1980s while he was still a teenager. But his solo album went nowhere and various music labels could not find the proper way to frame his upbeat and lavish alt-pop songs.
In 1997, he took a shot with MCA under the name New Radicals. The makeshift band’s debut album ‘Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too’ was released in 1998 and their first single ‘You Get What You Give’, with its optimistic vibe and lyrics charted around the world. Despite the superstardom, Alexander suddenly retired from performing.
He did not enjoy success any more than when he was obscure. Alexander is now producing and writing songs for other artists, including penning the Oscar-nominated ‘Lost Stars’ along with the rest of the Begin Again movie soundtrack.
3. At the Drive-In (1993-2001)
At The Drive-In’s legendary live antics grabbed the attention of the Capitol Records’ subsidiary Grand Royal who released the band’s third album ‘Relationship Of Command’ just before the band’s implosion. The record was the group’s most accomplished and popular with those outside the underground punk scenes taking notice. The album would go on to number one on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and the band would make the move from basement show heroes to headliner on stage. But their success was short-lived as At The Drive-In would cancel tours and go on an indefinite hiatus in 2001. They reunited briefly in 2011 but no future plans have been announced for the band’s future.
4. Jane’s Addiction (1985-1991)
Jane’s Addiction’s first album did not make many appearances due to the cover artwork and their first single ‘Mountain Song’, which carried nudity. Three years later, the band became one of the biggest success stories in the alt-rock scene as their sophomore album ‘Ritual De Lo Habitual’ broke into Billboard’s top 20 with the singles ‘Stop!’ and ‘Been Caught Stealing’, topping the modern rock chart with frequent MTV airplay.
However, internal strife has been brewing and when Perry Farrell, the lead singer demanded and got the lion’s share of loyalties, the rest of the band resented. By 1991, Eric Avery and Dave Navarro were both sober from drugs and found touring with hard-partying Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins difficult. Avery soon quit the band followed by Navarro. Various side projects and reunions failed to catapult the band back to their earlier success.
5. The Verve (1990-1999)
The Verve did not make any inroads with their music as they are too psychedelic and yet inaccessible for Oasis fans during the 1990s. It didn’t help the band that they were unstable. The band broke up in the 1995 release of their album ‘A Northern Soul’. However, Richard Ashcroft managed to convince guitarist Nick McCabe to return to the band for their 1997 album ‘Urban Hymns’.
The LP ended up becoming a massive global hit, including in the U.S. where it hit the number 23 on the Billboard album charts. The album’s first single ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for a Grammy. But the quartet went downhill from there, plagued by internal turmoil and stress. They officially split in April 1999.