As word has finally been handed down that The White Stripes are officially over (after four years of Jack White releasing records with every band but), I thought it would be a good time to evaluate who were the best bands to break up on time. We're not counting anyone's brother's band or bands that never had any success. Those bands broke up out of necessity, but the bands on this list could've milked it for longer and didn't.
Jimi Hendrix, for the record, was obviously nowhere near done.
10) Cream: Yes, they reunited, but reunions are different than prolonging your career with endless albums where other people play your parts.
The Beatles: Sure, they put together "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" in the 1990s over some John Lennon demos, but that's more like a fond farewell than anything approaching an album of all new material. During their career, they even made Abbey Road after they were nearly torn apart by the Let It Be sessions. Who would figure they'd still have that one lurking in their blood?
8) The Cars: Well, they're about to be pulled off this list because apparently they're back together after 23 years apart. Ocasek said "never" and now the album is scheduled for release on May 10, 2011. I'm leaving them here because the album hasn't surfaced yet and there is always the remote chance that it will be up to their standards and I will have to acknowledge that a reunited band is worth doing. Docked a few points for never really matching the power of their first two albums.
Led Zeppelin: Go Percy! Robert Plant says NO and there goes the chance of another round of Led Zeppelin. They were the perfect band for the 1970s and had nothing to gain by hanging around in the 1980s and going note for note with Whitesnake. They knew they couldn't replace John Bonham in 1980 and there has never been a reason to do more than unite for charity. Keep the good memories alive.
The Clash: Congrats to the Clash for not going beyond their term. Well, OK, there was a little something called Cut The Crap, which is far worse than can be imagined. What do you imagine? Yeah, it's worse than that.
Joy Division: Their singer, Ian Curtis, hung himself on the eve of the American tour and the remaining members had the good sense to start a new group called New Order rather than continue on with the old name. You'd think Van Halen could've at least called their group Van Hagar, since that's what everyone else called them.
4) Nirvana: While their end was most unfortunate, it did freeze and then increase the band's reputation. I think it was right to assume that no one wanted see Nirvana with the guy from the Cult singing their songs.
The Police: Most people are probably amazed that Sting allowed himself to stay in a group for so long and/ or that the other band members managed to stay in a band with him. No, no, I'm sure he's a lovely man and the other members did attend his wedding and even played a couple tunes. Their reunion tour in 2007-08 was well-received and gave everyone a little extra spending money and something to do.
2) The Jam: "From The Jam" are no more going to count than "Creedence Clearwater Revisited" or "Candlelight Music Presents the Golden Age of the Doors in the 21st Century Fox." Old band-mates who didn't have much publishing or no solo careers to speak of are allowed to make money by trading in on their legacy. As long as no new albums are issued under the official band's name. Performing on Paul Weller's solo albums is fine.