THEN AND NOW: Classic rock bands

Reuters/Lee CelanoA lot has changed for these classic rock bands.
  • Classic rock bands gave us some of the most iconic hits of the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Some of the group disbanded at the height of their careers, while others eventually reunited with brand new music for their dedicated fans.
  • From Las Vegas residencies to reunion tours, here’s how some of your beloved classic rock bands are reclaiming the spotlight.
  • Visit Insider’s home page for more stories.

They ruled the charts for decades, giving fans timeless hits that remain popular to this day. Classic rock bands are responsible for not only releasing hit after hit but also championing an era filled with dazzling outfits and iconic hairstyles.

Some of our favourite bands are still making music today, while others called it a career years back. From their debut single to their lives post-worldwide fame, here are what some of your favourite classic rock bands are up to now.


Aerosmith formed in 1970.

AP Photo/Bebeto MatthewsAerosmith performs at New York’s Radio City Music Hall during the 11 Annual MTV Video Music Awards, Thursday night, Sept. 8, 1994.

The Boston-bred group delivered some chart-topping power ballads such as “Dream On” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”


Aerosmith just launched a residency in Las Vegas.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagicBrad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith attend the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018.

The group’s last studio album, “Music From Another Dimension!” came out in 2012.

Aerosmith is currently playing a Las Vegas residence aptly titled “Aerosmith: Deuces are Wild,” a nod to the city’s bustling gambling scene and their 1994 single bearing the same name.


Queen formed in 1971.

Hulton Archive/Stringer/Getty ImagesFreddie Mercury of Queen.

Queen is another band that launched in the 1970s. It was helmed by lead singer Freddie Mercury and the band had lasting hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Radio Ga Ga.”


Adam Lambert has been the lead vocalist for Queen since 2016.

Al Powers/Powers Imagery/Invision/APRoger Taylor, from left, Adam Lambert, and Brian May of Queen + Adam Lambert address media at the ‘The Crown Jewels’ residency press conference at the MGM Resorts aviation hanger on August 28, 2018, in Las Vegas.

After some time away from the spotlight, Queen is back. The group’s award-winning biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” was released in October 2018, which chronicled Queen’s developmental years and the drama leading up to their iconic performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert. Mercury died in 1991. Rami Malek, who played him in the film, earned his first Oscar for best actor for the role in February.

The surviving members opened the same awards ceremony with “American Idol” alum Adam Lambert, who has taken the reins as lead vocalist as the band embarks on a worldwide tour this year and next.


Led Zepplin is one of the most iconic bands of this era.

The soft intro in “Stairway to Heaven” remains one of the most recognisable melodies in music, and we have Led Zepplin to thank for that. The British band achieved commercial success in the 1970s, paving the way for even more success in the form of sold-out tours.


Some of the members still appear together occasionally.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty ImagesRobert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin

Tragedy struck the group in 1980 when drummer John Bonham died from alcohol-related asphyxia. The band broke up shortly after.

The surviving members, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant, occasionally collaborated and took part in one-off Led Zeppelin reunions. They were honoured at the Kennedy Centre in 2012.

A feature-length documentary is in the works about the band, according to its website.


Van Halen went through some changes, even at the height of fame.

Van Halen is the epitome of classic rock and hits like “Jump” and “Panama” justify the group’s 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The California-born band achieved much of its success in the 1970s and the mid-1980s with lead singer David Lee Roth until he left and was subsequently replaced by Sammy Lee Hagar.


Van Halen hinted at a 13th studio album in 2015.

Daniel Knighton/Getty ImagesMusicians David Lee Roth (L) and Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen perform on stage at Sleep Train Amphitheatre on September 30, 2015, in Chula Vista, California.

Hagar and the remaining members released four successful albums together until he also departed and Roth returned in 2007. In March 2015, Van Halen announced they would be embarking on a 39-city tour across North America. The following month, Eddie Van Halen told Rolling Stone he hoped the band would follow on the success of their tour with a new studio album.


Bon Jovi were legends in the ’80s.

Paul Natkin/Getty ImagesPortrait of American rock band Bon Jovi backstage before a performance at the Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, Illinois, May 20, 1984.

If there’s anything you can thank Bon Jovi for, it’s the band’s ever-popular anthem “Livin’ on a Prayer,” which can be heard anywhere from sporting events to wedding receptions, and of course, tons of other hits including “Bad Medicine” and “You Give Love A Bad Name.”

The band hails from New Jersey, and are revered for blending glam rock and hard rock into their projects.


Bon Jovi is slated to release a new album at the end of this year.

Paul Zimmerman / Contributor/Getty ImagesJon Bon Jovi performs on stage during Bon Jovi’s ‘This House is Not For Sale’ tour at Madison Square Garden on May 9, 2018, in New York City.

Original members Alec John Such and Richie Sambora left the group in 1994 and 2013, respectively, however, returned to perform with lead singer Jon Bon Jovi and the rest of the bandmates at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in February 2018, where the group also received honours.

On March 9, Jon Bon Jovi announced on social media that the band is officially working on their 15th studio album, which fans can expect to hear late this year.


You definitely know Def Leppard’s most-famous hit.

Def Leppard’s 1987 single “Pour Some Sugar On Me” came in at #2 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s” in 2006, only coming after Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.”

That’s just one of the band’s iconic hits including “Love Bites,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Animal.”


No new album is expected from Def Leppard, but there will be a second residency in Las Vegas.

Kevin Kane/Getty Images For The Rock and Roll Hall of FameInductees Rick Allen, Phil Collen, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage and Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard speak onstage during the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony.

It appears 2019 is shaping up to be a busy one for the English band. In addition to being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they launched a world tour, and held a second Las Vegas residency titled “Def Leppard Hits Vegas: The Sin City Residency.”


Mötley Crüe had dozens of hits.

Mötley Crüe has sold 100 million records worldwide, thanks in part to bangers like “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Home Sweet Home.” Perhaps the most famous member of the LA-based group, Tommy Lee, left the band in 1999 to pursue a solo stint. After five years on his own, Lee rejoined his mates in 2004.


A biopic about Mötley Crüe’s days as one of the biggest bands was released on Netflix this year.

Steve Granitz / Contributor/Getty ImagesNikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe arrive at the Premiere Of Netflix’s ‘The Dirt’ at ArcLight Hollywood on March 18, 2019, in Hollywood, California.

In January 2015, the band announced the end of Mötley Crüe with a series of performances in Japan, Australia, Brazil, Europe, and North America, performing a final time on New Year’s Eve 2015.

While they are contractually prohibited from touring together, under their band’s name they are committed to giving fans new music. In September 2018, frontman Vince Neil revealed the band was working on four new songs. On March 22, 2019, “The Dirt” biopic chronicling the band’s rise to fame was released on Netflix.


No list is complete without the Rolling Stones.

Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Getty ImagesThe Rolling Stones in 1963.

Formed in London in 1962, the band is famous for songs like “Sympathy For The Devil,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “Tumbling Dice.”


An emergency heart operation for Mick Jagger didn’t stop The Rolling Stones from continuing their sold-out US tour.

The band continues to tour, much to the delight of fans. A US tour in 2019 was announced late 2018, then was postponed due to singer Mick Jagger’s heart valve procedure. The 75-year-old’s operation was successful and The Stones resumed their No Filter Tour over the summer.


“Highway to Hell” was one of AC/DC’s biggest hits.

Dick Barnatt / Contributor/Getty ImagesPhoto of AC/DC; L-R: Malcolm Young, Mark Evans, Bon Scott, manager Michael Browning, Angus Young – posed, at a press reception in WEA offices in 1976.

AC/DC had numerous hits like “Highway to Hell” and “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It).”

Following the death of lead singer Bon Scott in 1980, the band continued to perform. Scott was replaced with singer Brian Johnson.


AC/DC has reportedly been in the studio this year working on an album.

Lisa Lake/Getty Images for BT PRSinger Axl Rose (L) and guitarist Angus Young of AC/DC perform during Rock Or Bust Tour at the at Wells Fargo Centre on September 20, 2016.

The band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

Johnson said he left the group in 2016 due to hearing loss, prompting singer Axl Rose to step in. In April, it was confirmed that the band has been in the studio working on more music, with Johnson on the bill, but it’s unclear exactly what the band will release next.


Journey achieved success with singer Steve Perry.

Michael Putland/Getty ImagesAmerican rock group Journey, New York, 1978. Left to right: drummer Aynsley Dunbar, bassist Ross Valory, singer Steve Perry, guitarist Neal Schon, and singer/keyboard player Gregg Rolie.

Journey achieved commercial success thanks to hits like “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and “Faithfully.” Steve Perry was Journey’s prolific lead vocalist until he left the band in 1987 and then for a second time in 1999, which was for good.


Today, Journey has a new lead singer.

Raoul Gatchalian/STAR MAX/IPxJonathan Cain, Ross Valory, Neal Schon, Arnel Pineda and Steve Smith of Journey at the Journey Memorabilia Case Dedication Ceremony at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in 2017.

Perry was initially replaced by Steve Augeri and new lead singer Arnel Pineda was brought on in 2007. The San Francisco-based band released two more studio albums with Pineda that achieved critical success.

The group was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and Perry did not perform with the group, opting to only appear with them briefly during the acceptance speech.


The Eagles had a big hit with “Hotel California.”

Known for their beloved hit “Hotel California,” The Eagles have endured their own trials and tribulations since forming in 1971.

The group took an extended hiatus from 1980-1994, with the members embarking on solo careers.


The Eagles have continued performing.

Scott Dudelson/Getty ImagesMusicians Timothy B. Schmit, Don Henley and Deacon Frey of The Eagles perform onstage during ‘An Evening with The Eagles’ at The Forum on September 14, 2018 in Inglewood, California.

Their first tour since coming back together was paired with a new album titled “Hell Freezes Over.” Named for founding member Don Henley’s expression saying the band would reunite “when hell freezes over,” the group’s second live album reached number one on the Billboard charts.

Tragedy struck the group in 2016 when founding member Glenn Frey died from complications from, among other things, acute ulcerative colitis. Don Henley stated he didn’t the band would ever perform again in the wake of Frey’s death.

Still, the band reunited for a concert in July 2017, with Frey’s son Deacon taking his father’s place. In 2019, The Eagles announced that, for the first time ever, they would perform their 1976 album “Hotel California” in its entirety on September 27 and September 28 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, with another performance including their biggest hits.


Fleetwood Mac formed in 1967.

CBS via Getty ImagesMembers of Fleetwood Mac from left: John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham on the SECOND ANNUAL ROCK MUSIC AWARDS. Image dated September 18, 1976.

Fleetwood Mac formed in the ’60s as an all-male UK rock group. But the group underwent tons of changes in its early years, including the addition of keyboardist Christine McVie, and really hit the big time with the inclusion of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

Fleetwood Mac had numerous hits including “The Chain,” “Dreams,” and “Go Your Own Way.” Though the band was known for its music, it’s arguably just as well-known for the drama within its members, including the divorce of John and Christin McVie and breakup of Buckingham and Nicks during the recording of the smash-hit album “Rumours.”


The band has gone through some serious changes over the years.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iHeartMediaohn McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Neil Finn, and Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac perform onstage during the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on September 21, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Most of the members have departed and then returned to the band over the years, with Nicks and Buckingham both pursuing solo careers, only to return. Christine McVie also left the band for a time. Throughout it all, they continued to reunite in some capacity over and over.

In 2018, the band shocked many when it was announced that Buckingham had been fired from the group and would not be joining them on their upcoming tour. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and Nicks was inducted as a solo artist in 2019, making her the first woman to be inducted twice.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.