SOME bands never recover from a member leaving, whether it’s due to musical talent or charisma. Here are some who should have begged departing members to stay.
The Smiths would have been awful without Johnny Marr’s riffs and unique jangly guitar sound, so when he left that was it. A contributing factor was Morrissey’s love of kitschy 60s pop covers, so at least they didn’t subject the world to more tunes like Cilla Black’s Work is a Four-Letter Word, the somewhat incongruous B-side to Girlfriend in a Coma.
The band recently revealed that when Jesy Nelson left in 2020 they all needed therapy. And with good reason – when you’re marketed as BFFs having a great time being in a band, a member leaving is gut-wrenching for your young audience, who no longer want to buy your songs as much. Sure enough Little Mix’s fortunes dipped, which isn’t surprising when Jesy’s departure was the tween band equivalent of settling down with the latest Harry Potter book only to discover Hermione isn’t part of the gang anymore because she’s died from brain cancer.
How many Peter Gabriel hits can you name? Well, Big Time, obviously. Don’t Give Up with Kate Bush, Solsbury Hill, the enduring classic Games Without Frontiers. And that’s without particularly being a fan. Now name some Genesis hits. You’re probably struggling after Invisible Touch, strongly suggesting the rest of the band should have persuaded Peter to stay. It’s unlikely he’d have come up with the drum-heavy f**king racket that was Land of Confusion.
Much like Little Mix, One Direction were a package. Specifically, think of them as a KP Choc Dip. Liam, Zayn, Niall and Louis were the biscuit sticks, and Harry was the chocolate dipping sauce. No one wants the biscuit sticks on their own, but everyone will eat the sauce, as countless women from Caroline Flack to Olivia Wilde proved. Even if the dipping sauce has got loads of hideous tattoos, which is where the metaphor breaks down.
Simon and Garfunkel
The last straw in their famously fraught relationship came in 1970 due to Garfunkel getting a part in a film and not bothering to tell Simon. Simon continued his career as a hugely respected songwriter while Art didn’t become much of an actor. His short, patchy acting CV is mainly weird roles like ‘Singing Moose (voice)’ in one episode of the cartoon Arthur. Was it worth it, Art?
No bust-ups, just the fact that all three members released solo albums at roughly the same time, with Beyonce’s selling best and setting her on the path to becoming the ruthlessly efficient mega-hit machine she is today. The others should have persuaded her to stay and all just pootle along together less successfully, if only to avoid being reminded of Beyonce’s success every time she sets some new recording record like selling more albums than there are atoms in the universe.
Staying together wasn’t really an option for three self-sufficient musicians with diverging interests (plus Ringo). But when Paul McCartney left he took his knack for catchy, commercial hits with him. He used this power for both good (Live and Let Die) and evil (Mull of Kintyre), but there was no way the band could have continued without him. It’s hard to imagine fans rushing out to buy ‘Beatles’ albums consisting of John droning on about world peace to the sound of sitars and Ringo bashing away on his biscuit tins in the background.