Famous musicians who retired earlier than fans wanted

Some music legends often make little new music and live off a strong back catalogue, for other stars though ill health forces retirement, but for a number the fame, stress can be too much and if they are loaded, then why not enjoy the later years? Whilst others have choosen different careers, had a family or left the limelight but still write/produce.

Here are just a few thoughts before we delve further. Tom Jones made hit after hit throughout the 60’s to the 80’s then choose a different career path, a TV talent judge. Neil Diamond – The singing legend, who has sold over 125 million records, announced his decision to stop touring in 2018 after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, though he came out of retirement Dec 2022 to singSweet Caroline‘ during the curtain call of a new Broadway musical about his life. Billy Joel, who has yet to record new albums but tours regularly

Successful musicians who retired early or do very little

Lauryn Hill

Unlike the waves of hip-hop artists who have briefly “retired,” only to return within weeks (or days), Ms. Hill took her long hiatus seriously, much to our dismay. Despite a few one-off performances — an MTV Unplugged special in 2001 here, a Fugees reunion in 2004 there — Hill basically took herself out of circulation for a good portion of the Aughts. “I had to step away when I realized that for the sake of the machine, I was being way too compromised,” she later explained. She started gradually returning to performing, including a triumphant return to New York City in 2012.

Phil Collins

Phil Collins, Genesis’ drummer and the hitmaker behind “In the Air Tonight,” began experiencing health-related concerns in 2009 after injuring the vertebrae in his upper neck. He also lost alot of his hearing too from live shows.

Following a 14-year live hiatus, he joined Genesis in the fall of 2022 for its last show. Despite his visible frailty, Collins sat center stage, joking that he’d need to find a “real job” after the band’s dissolution.

Adam Clayton

After 14 albums and 40 years spent playing together, U2’s bassist, Adam Clayton, appeared to call it quits when the band played a homecoming show in 2018. When Clayton co-founded the band in 1976, U2 had a sound that veered more toward post-punk, a far cry from the mass-market appeal that defined the later decades.

Bill Withers

The soul singer had a string of hits in the Seventies, but after releasing his last album in 1985

A great many musicians threaten retirement throughout their careers. But rarely do any of them follow through on that promise. Unfortunately, that was the case with Bill Withers, the soul singer who produced many timeless hits during his short-lived career. Tired of touring and of his fraught relationship with his record company, Withers retired in the mid-’80s, and nothing seemed to lure him back into the limelight.

Kate Bush

Throughout Kate Bush’s stretch from her 1978 debut “The Kick Inside” to 2011’s “50 Words for Snow,” the mystical singer only embarked on one tour. Following years of silence, Bush played a series of shows in London in 2014, singing songs from throughout her career. Bush, who has developed a reclusive reputation, reemerged briefly in 2022 with words of gratitude when her 1985 track “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” became one of the biggest tracks of the year, thanks to its inclusion in the fourth season of “Stranger Things.” Many people again know of her now.

Dave Rowntree

His music has been played on both the Glastonbury main stage and on a spaceship to Mars, but Blur’s drummer, Dave Rowntree, has taken a few career u-turns away from music since. In 2009, he trained as a solicitor. In 2010, he became a campaigner for the Labor party. Later, he explained that those decisions were basically “a mid-life crisis.” Now, Rowntree works as a composer.

John Deacon

Aside from three performances with his old band Queen after the death of front man Freddie Mercury, bassist John Deacon must have been fairly prescient about the way things were going to go if the band continued without Mercury. He subsequently retired in 1997 and had no part in the ridiculous further exploitation of the Queen name with Paul Rodgers and others.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
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