Top 10 Farewell Tours That Weren’t
In 1984 tens of thousands of fans gathered in Milton Keynes to witness the last ever show by Status Quo. 32 years later, they're still playing. What is it with farewell tours that aren't?
Monty Python - First Farewell Tour, 1973
The wacky Python boys were taking the piss out of the entire concept of the erroneous ‘Farewell Tour’ cash-grab, even whilst largely pre-empting it. This was the comedy troupe’s first UK tour, and they were gobsmacked by the levels of rock’n’roll adulation that greeted them on the road. To be fair, after taking the First Farewell Tour to Canada, they favoured live residencies: London’s Drury Lane in 1974, New York’s City Centre in 1976, LA’s Hollywood Bowl in 1980, and a definitely final last chance to see the not-dead-yet Pythons at London’s O2 in 2014.
The Who - Farewell Tour, 1982
It was Daltrey who pushed for the band to stop touring, stating unequivocally “It’s a nightmare” at a press conference in October ’82. “We can’t get any bigger than we are,” the singer explained, adding “It’s good to go out on top.” Diplomatic Rog didn’t mention that Pete Townshend’s drink and drug problems were his biggest issues with life on the road. By 1989 various wounds had healed and The Who were off round the world again, albeit with a horn section and backing singers. Today The Who continue on their “long goodbye,” with dates scheduled until October.
Status Quo - End Of The Road Tour, 1984
After a period of inter-band turmoil, in the midst of a self-proclaimed “full-blown coke-and-tequila phase”, Francis Rossi announced he didn’t want to tour anymore. “I started to see continuing Quo as a complete and utter waste of time,” he revealed in the band’s 2004 autobiography XS All Areas. Every date on that ‘farewell tour’, Rick Parfitt was bereft: “I just thought: but why? How had it come to this?” In the event, Quo were re-energised by their Live Aid opening slot, and their tour dates continue until the end of 2016, after which they’ll go permanently ‘unplugged’.
Kiss - Farewell Tour 2000
When US ticket sales for 1998’s Psycho Circus Tour - the second worldwide jaunt for the band’s reunited (and repainted) original line-up - proved disappointing, Gene’s wily business sense kicked into gear. The year 2000 seemed an appropriately apocalyptic round number on which to embark on a Kiss Farewell Tour, which sure enough was a much bigger money-spinner. Less than two years after their ‘Farewell Tour’, Kiss were shamelessly back on the road, although by then they had imposters posing as Spaceman and The Cat, so the Farewell Tour was a farewell of sorts.
The Eagles - Farewell 1 Tour, 2005
Stealing the joke from Monty Python’s First Farewell Tour in 1973, The Eagles had always enjoyed a pithy tour title; 1994’s Hell Freezes Over Tour was famously named after Don Henley’s 1980 remark about when the estranged musicians would next work together. By 2005, the foursome were acknowledging that you might not see them tour again, but you probably would. “The longer this goes on, the better these songs sound,” insisted Glenn Frey. “There is a sort of honesty in calling the tour Farewell 1, with its implication that Farewell 2 will follow soon.”
Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tours, 1992
Maybe No More Tours was just too good a name not to use. Ozzy maintained that his worldwide jaunt in support of 1991’s No More Tears LP would be his last, that the Prince Of Darkness was retiring, that he missed home and wanted to spend more time with his family. Thanks to The Osbournes, we all now know what his family was like, so it’s little surprise that Ozzy was back on the road for the Retirement Sucks! Tour less than three years later.
Judas Priest - Epitaph World Tour, 2012
“We lied.” With this novel admission from Glenn Tipton, the much-publicised Epitaph World Tour was revealed to be not so much the end of Judas Priest as a new beginning. “It’s Richie Faulkner’s fault: let’s blame Richie,” added Rob Halford, referring to the guitarist who replaced founder member KK Downing after his shock departure, just two months prior to the first date of the ’farewell tour’. With this new injection of young blood, the band cranked out a new album, Redeemer Of Souls, and took it on a 129-date world tour; so very much business as usual.
Nine Inch Nails - Wave Goodbye Tour, 2009
Explaining NIN’s poignant 2009 tour title, Trent Reznor announced that “NIN as a touring live band… is stopping.” His explanation was simple, and perhaps a little on the catty side: “I’d never want to be Gene Simmons, an old man who puts on make-up to entertain kids, like a clown going to work… In my paranoia, I fear that if I don’t stop this, it could become that.” However, NIN were back on a massive arena tour in 2013, and Trent has promised that they’ll be back again in 2016. The Demon would be proud.
Arcturus - The Last Show Ever, 2007
In Melbourne in 2007, frontman ICS Vortex declared “Welcome to the last Arcturus show ever.” In 2015 he admitted to Metal Hammer that when he made that announcement he thought: “Ooh, that’s a lie!” The members of the post-black metal supergroup were busy with bands like Dimmu Borgir and Mayhem and family commitments, and the singer summed up the band’s attitude as “Why the fuck shouldn’t we jump on the ‘we’re splitting up’ bandwagon and see what happens?” What happened was, “an alien” told them that 2011 was Arcturus’ lucky number, so four years later they were back onstage…
Black Sabbath - The Last Supper, 2000
“The invitations are sealed. The table is set. The event of the millennium is being staged once and for all - The Last Supper of Black Sabbath.” So ran the portentous announcement on the band’s website in March 1999. Ozzy had already changed his mind about retiring four years earlier, so this vaguely-worded news raised many suspicious eyebrows. The tour proved historic enough - it was the last to feature Bill Ward on drums - but Ozzy, Tony and Geezer are currently continuing on The End Tour until February 2017.