Eight of the greatest musical comebacks ever

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Eight of the greatest musical comebacks ever

music comebacks
(Image: RHCP Facebook)
Words by Harry Connell

Returning to form has never looked so good

It’s not uncommon to see a musician or band fall out of the spotlight every once in a while, for a number of reasons, some out of their control. It can be hard to maintain a high level of success in such a cutthroat industry, even for the most legendary bands.

There have however, been many artists that have managed to make their way back in, resulting in some of the most epic music comebacks over the years.

Here’s a look at eight of the greatest music comebacks of all time. 

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Red Hot Chili Peppers and their fortunes have very much been in the hands of John Frusciante. Now, that might seem like a big call as there are undoubtedly a variety of factors which contribute to the success of the Chilis, but you can’t argue that they’re not a better band with him in the fold.

After breaking through with Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Frusciante couldn’t handle the fame and departed the band mid-tour, opening the door for Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro to play guitar on One Hot Minute. While the album wasn’t exactly a flop, Navarro left due to creative differences which opened the door for a rehabilitated Frusciante to rejoin the band.

Californication was released in 1999 and remains their most commercially successful record to date, spawning one of the great return to form albums from recent memory.

The Chilis again made their return this year with Unlimited Love, their first new release since 2016’s The Getaway, but it was the return of guitarist John Frusciante that really got the fans talking.

Frusciante hadn’t played on a Chili Peppers album since 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, as he left the band in 2009 while they were taking an indefinite break.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are returning down under in 2023, playing four massive stadium shows alongside multiplatinum selling superstar Post Malone.


2008 marked the triumphant return of Metallica as metal’s heavy hitters found themselves in the top charts for the first time in over a decade following the release of their ninth studio album Death Magnetic.

The album, which earned them three Grammys, saw Metallica return to their metal roots, after the band took five years off due to internal struggles.

Death Magnetic drew similar praise to the band’s earlier albums, and much to fans delight saw Metallica back on top, and rightfully so.


Described by the New York Times as the “queen of the comeback”, American singer Cher returned to the charts in 1998, and in a big way.

Her smash hit ‘Believe’ was a huge success, reaching number one in 21 countries worldwide, as well as earning her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female solo artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

What makes it even more impressive though, is the fact that it was her first US number one since 1974’s ‘Dark Lady’, and her most successful since 1989’s ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’, which peaked at number three.

‘Believe’ is one of the best-selling singles, with sales of over 11 million copies worldwide, and the nine-year charting gap makes it all the more impressive.

Elvis Presley

In 1961, Elvis played a concert in Hawaii to support the construction of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour – this would be his last public live performance for seven years.

In 1968, Presley staged a Comeback Special which aired on NBC.

Originally supposed to be a Christmas special, director Steve Binder created a spectacle that reflected the musical trends of the time and appealed to a younger audience.

The special revitalised Elvis’s music career, after he had devoted a lot of his time to focusing on film roles, and birthed some of his biggest hits, such as ‘Suspicious Minds’ and ‘Burning Love.’

It topped the Nielsen television rating the week it went to air, became the most watched show of the television season, and is now known as one of the most iconic comeback performances of all time.


Released in 1985, Aerosmith’s eighth studio album Done With Mirrors was intended to be their big comeback album – their first LP since Rock in a Hard Place in 1982.

The record didn’t live up to expectations and was regarded by many as a huge flop.

The following year however, the American rock group teamed up with New York’s own Run-D.M.C on a rework of ‘Walk This Way’, that blurred the lines between genres, and saw huge commercial success.

It featured on Run-D.M.C.’s 1986 album Raising Hell and paved the way for the sub-genre of rap rock that began to take off around that time.

The track helped break Aerosmith back into the mainstream during the ’80s, as well as bringing Run-D.M.C. into the suburbs of white America.

Both versions of the song are in the Grammy Hall of Fame.


The 2021 album Voyage was released almost 40 years to the day after the Swedish pop group’s previous album The Visitors, and features 10 songs all written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

ABBA’s comeback doesn’t end there though, they also launched a digital residency at a purpose-built venue at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, which features virtual avatars (or ABBAtars) that show the group as they appeared in 1977.

Definitely the most unique comeback on the list, Voyage topped the charts in a number of countries, including Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and became the group’s highest charting studio album in Canada and the United States.

The opening track on the album ‘I Still Have Faith In You’, received a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year, the first for the Swedish foursome.

Fleetwood Mac

It’s fair to say that Fleetwood Mac have had their share of ups and downs over the years but for the most part, they’ve managed to maintain a level of relevance that has kept them somewhat in the spotlight.

Things did get a little quiet for the British-American rock band though, following the release of 14th studio album Tango in the Night.

A decade later, Fleetwood Mac reunited for a gig at Warner Brothers Studio – the concert set to be released as a live album titled The Dance in 1997.

It sold five million copies in the US and became the band’s first album to top the charts since 1982’s Mirage.

It featured their most successful lineup, comprised of Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine and John McVie, and newly returned Lindsey Buckingham, who hadn’t released an album together since 1987.

The Spice Girls

There have been a number of Spice Girls reunions throughout the years, but in 1998 when Geri Halliwell made it clear she didn’t ‘Wannabe’ a part of the group anymore, it seemed that it may be the end of an era – for real this time.

That was until 2007, when after a lengthy hiatus, they reformed and resumed touring with the full group, performing over 40 shows from December of that year to February 2008.

They did however go their separate ways again after this, before reuniting at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Fast forward another seven years, and the British pop phenomenon’s were back again, touring the UK in 2019, this time without Victoria Beckham.


See one of the music comebacks in the ‘flesh’ with ABBA’s Voyage here.