6 Popular and Influential Bands With Short-Lived Careers

As with anything, it can be difficult to burn brightly while simultaneously battling burnout.

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In the music world, this can be especially laborious to accomplish given the grueling tour schedules and the incessant lure of various substances. Many a band has thrown in the towel after it all just got to be too much. And other times, a career stop can arrive after the death of a band member.

But who are these bands? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular and influential bands that had relatively short careers. In no particular order, read below for six bands who disbanded after a few years.

1. Nirvana

Nirvana was the grunge rock band we all needed but never saw coming. Widely known for its 1991 album, Nevermind—which spawned the songs “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come as You Are,” “Lithium,” and “In Bloom”—Nirvana quickly amassed a following. The band, despite their success, disbanded after frontman Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994. The band had only been active from 1987 through 1994 and was a mainstream act from 1991 through 1994.

2. The Doors

Similar to Nirvana (but occurring before Nirvana was created), The Doors disbanded soon after its frontman died at the age of 27. Jim Morrison died in France, in 1971, after seven years with The Doors. The band attempted to continue without Morrison for two more years, but they found it difficult to do so, and officially disbanded in 1973. The Doors did, however, reunite one more time after Morrison’s death in 1978 to record some of the former frontman’s spoken word poetry. The result was The Doors’ ninth and final studio album, An American Prayer.

3. The Beatles

Now, the presence of The Beatles on this list may shock many of you. But, it is true: The Beatles were only together from 1960 to 1970. During that decade, The Beatles released 13 studio albums and became so popular that the term “Beatlemania” was created to describe the effect that those four musicians had on the world. Wearied by disagreements and disputes, the band called it quits and all four pursued solo careers.

4. Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols, despite being a major player on the punk scene in the U.K., lasted only two and a half years in their initial career. The one album the band recorded and released during this time, from 1975 to 1978, was the U.K. No. 1 Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. The band was soon plagued with tension, fighting, and Sid Vicious’ heroin addiction, which led to their demise. Despite its short career, however, the Sex Pistols are frequently made synonymous with the English punk rock scene.

5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Again, The Jimi Hendrix Experience officially disbanded after its frontman passed away at the age of 27 in 1970. Formed in 1966, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was an extension of Hendrix’s musical genius. While the band did not technically break up during Hendrix’s lifetime, Hendrix did subtly refuse to perform under the band’s name during his famous Woodstock set. Hendrix opted to perform with the name Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, known as Band of Gypsys for short.

6. Cream

Cream—composed of members Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton, and Ginger Baker—was only together for three years from 1966 to 1968. During this time, the band created four albums: Fresh Cream (1966), Disraeli Gears (1967), Wheels of Fire (1968), and Goodbye (1969). The band was known for the musical skill of its individual members at their instruments, but they disbanded after tensions between Baker and Bruce grew too large.

Photo Credit: Faith West/Courtesy of Pop Legendz


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