10 Rock Music Bands That Quit On Top

Burning out, not fading away.

Everybody Hurts Rem
Warner Bros.

The vast majority of bands fizzle out as soon as they’ve started. They can’t hack the business, run out of ideas, or decide to get a proper job. Another tranche of acts go on way past their sell-by date, chasing cash, past glories, or both until their reputation is diminished.

The odd few groups manage to find that perfect sweet spot, riding off into the sunset with heads held high and a body of work to stand the test of time. Leaving at your commercial or creative (or indeed both) peak can’t be easy, but it’s the gift that keeps giving in terms of a band’s lasting credibility.

Of course, it’s not always a choice. Bands split out of integrity, sure, but other, external factors can play a part - death, financial worries, waking up and realising you cannot stand to be in the same room as your colleagues for a minute longer.

Whatever the root cause, these 10 bands will, so long as they resist the urge to get back in the studio, enjoy immortality for the rest of time through the simple but oh so sweet act of giving up.

10. The White Stripes

The Detroit duo emerged onto the scene in 1999 with their self-titled masterpiece, broke big in 2001, released their last album in 2007, and while they didn’t announce their split for another four years, effectively ended it there. During that journey, they inspired plentiful copyists, presented themselves with a confidence and coherence few bands muster, and garnered worldwide fame and acclaim.

No one’s exactly sure why the Stripes hung up their colour-coded boots, but the fact that drummer Meg White has essentially disappeared since is presumably part of the reason. The seven-album run isn’t perfect (Get Behind Me Satan is a bit weak), but their finale, Icky Thump, is as good a swansong as any band could ask for; a record that simultaneously showcases the evolution of the band and their simple blues-rock roots.

As a live act, they were almost peerless and could have kept going forever, but instead they chose to, per their press release, “preserve what is beautiful and special about the band". What they leave behind is weird and wonderful music packed with character and self belief - a gloriously unlikely success story.

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Yorkshire-based writer of screenplays, essays, and fiction. Big fan of having a laugh. Read more of my stuff @ www.twotownsover.com (if you want!)