4 Famous Albums That Almost Didn’t Happen

These four famous albums are legendary in their respective genres, but they almost didn’t happen. In fact, one of these bands almost didn’t happen, period. Let’s take a deep dive into why these major records almost never existed!

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1. ‘The Black Album’ by Prince

Prince’s untitled 1987 album, often referred to as The Black Album, was quickly pulled after the label had released just a few promotional records. It was eventually re-released in 1994. The re-release almost didn’t happen, either. 

Prince, who had gone through a spiritual renaissance of sorts in the 1980s, believed that the album was an “angry, bitter thing” and did not want it to be his final album as he could “die at any moment” after having a spiritual epiphany. So, it collected dust for years before a new version was released seven years later. The original version is still very hard to find.

2. ‘Back In Black’ by AC/DC

Back In Black is rock outfit AC/DC’s most well-known album. A year earlier in 1979, they released the successful Highway To Hell and needed to ride the wave of success with another chart-topping album. Unfortunately, while working on Back In Black, the band’s lead singer Bon Scott tragically passed away. 

The devastation rattled fans as well as the remaining band members, who were considering ending the band for good. Fortunately, they decided to channel their grief into something good. Back In Black was completed and released as a tribute to the late great Bon Scott.

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3. ‘Boston’ by Boston

Boston was one of those famous albums that not only almost didn’t happen, but the band almost didn’t happen, either. The band Boston had humble beginnings in Tom Scholz’ basement studio, where he and Brad Delp put together a six-track demo to shop around. Music label after music label turned them down. Eventually, they got some attention from Epic Records, who were willing to consider signing Boston after a live audition. 

Unfortunately, there was no band at the time to audition. Boston was quite literally just Scholz and Delp. They had to quickly recruit and rehearse with local musicians to audition. Their performance was a success and thus, Boston was born!

4. ‘What’s Going On’ by Marvin Gaye

What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye is one of the greatest soul albums of all time. It almost didn’t happen because Motown Records’ Berry Gordy thought it would be a huge disaster due to the uncommercial nature of the album’s social and political commentary. Gordy even said the record was “the worst thing [he] ever heard in [his] life.”

Fortunately, Gaye would not back down and went to Harry Balk to release the album’s lead single… without permission from Gordy. The song was a rapid best-seller, and What’s Going On was (fortunately) released in 1971.

Photo by Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives

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