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Ageing rockers outshine newcomers

A wind of revival swept the global music industry in 2007, making reunions of ageing rockers the defining theme of the year.

music Updated: Dec 29, 2007 18:05 IST

A wind of reconciliation swept the music industry in 2007, making reunions of ageing rockers the defining theme of the year. Led Zeppelin rounded off a year of landmark reformations in early December with a triumphant return to the stage in London 27 years after the band split in 1980, following the death of drummer John Bonham.



Most fans had assumed they would never take the stage together again - but in September they announced the reunion for a tribute to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, who signed the band four decades ago and died last year.



But Led Zeppelin, musical trailblazers the first time round, were far from being original in 2007, when a slew of leading names from the past four decades reformed to great acclaim.<b1>



The Police surprised by announcing their reunion after more than 20 years apart, though most fans believed personal resentments at the heart of the group would prevent a comeback.



Singer Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland once came to blows during a tour of the United States and had reportedly refused to be in the same studio together while recording a "best of" album in 1986.



Mellowed by age and doubtless aware of the immensely lucrative nature of making-up, the band launched a world tour in May, set to continue into 2008.



Phil Collins too joined up with his Genesis band mates again (minus Peter Gabriel) for a giant tour, Lou Reed was back performing, and Van Halen announced concerts for the first time in 22 years with original singer David Lee Roth.<b2>



The Sex Pistols played a concert in London on November 8 and Black Sabbath under the name of Heaven and Hell and The Eagles were also part of the so-called "heritage act" revival.



Sly and the Family Stone, The Who, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, and what remains of The Doors, also headed once more for the road, drawing fans to often expensively priced concerts for an opportunity to relive the past.



Elsewhere in 2007, the music and tribulations of British soul singer Amy Winehouse were a source of fascination for the public and a talking point in the industry.



The 24-year-old Londoner won awards for her scintillating soul music, reminiscent of the best Motown classics, but her drug abuse and problems with the police meant her private life cast a pall over her achievements.



In the United States, Kanye West confirmed himself as the hottest American hip hop star of the moment after outselling 50 Cent in a highly publicised battle between the two artists who released albums on the same day.



Other highlights included the discovery of Mika, a US-Lebanese singer based in London, who shot to fame with his first album of Freddie Mercury-style 80s pop, and the return of Pete Doherty.



Doherty -- former singer of British rock group The Libertines, boyfriend of model Kate Moss and another British star with serious drug problems -- released a critically acclaimed second album with his group Babyshambles.



But the return of old reunited bands was the news that made the headlines, and the reasons appeared two-fold, with Neil Young's famous saying "Rock and Roll Will Never Die" and Frank Zappa's hit album "We're Only in It For the Money" offering clues.



"Over the last couple of years it seems more acceptable for reunions to happen," said the editor-in-chief of British music magazine

Classic Rock

, Scott Rowley.



"There was a certain stigma before because it might be embarrassing or seemed like they (the artists) were looking back," he said. "The second reason for the reunions is there's lots of money on offer.


"If you believe the record labels, where the real money lies now is in touring. Record sales are down so bands are making a vast proportion of income from touring," he added.



Tickets and merchandising are usually priced at a premium given the "one-off" nature of reunions, and taking advantage of the older more wealthy demographics of the fans.



What's more, a reunion tour reinvigorates a band's back-catalogue of records, boosting sales and enabling record labels to issue re-releases and DVDs.



Seeing elderly rockers back on stage, minus some hair and appetite for late nights, appeared to inspire others from the more modern era in 2007.



The Verve, Rage Against the Machine, The Happy Mondays, The Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and The Mary Chain and, lest one forget, The


Spice Girls, were among leading groups from the 1980s and 1990s to reform.



Alexis Petridis, chief music writer for Britain's The Guardian newspaper, summed up how former stars upstaged newcomers this year with his thoughts on Britain's Glastonbury festival, one of the biggest music events in the world.



"There was something troubling about returning home with the knowledge that the most exciting, unpredictable, iconoclastic thing you saw all weekend was not a thrilling new artist, but a sixtysomething heritage-rock act," he wrote.



For 2008, Rowley says to watch out for a possible reunion of Pink Floyd (minus Roger Waters).



Other possible reunions include 70s rockers Rod Stewart and The Faces, 80s heroes Guns and Roses, The Smiths or The Jam.