Break ups are hard. They’re even more traumatizing when they’re so sudden. It only leads one to keep asking, “What went wrong? Weren’t things going great? How did this happen?” Some revel in those moments, believing it builds character, while others — most, actually — just think the whole thing’s quite bitter and depressing.
With Christopher Owens’ announcement that he’s leaving Girls, despite the band’s recent (and incredibly young) success, we all sort of felt lightheaded with déjÃ vu. Haven’t we been here before? How many other countless acts have called it quits in the pinnacle of their success? How many have thrown up the stop sign when everyone else was speeding around at 88 mph? The short answer: Too many.
The longer, more intriguing answer? That awaits you.
At The Drive-In
Life and Death: 1993-2001
Founded in 1993 by Jim Ward and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, At The Drive-In spent the majority of the ’90s underground as an aggressive post-hardcore act. In a little over seven years, the El Paso collective managed to release three studio albums, one compilation album, five EPs, and six singles. Their final album, 2000’s Relationship of Command, proved to be a major breakthrough hit, cracking the Billboard 200, and spawning three equally successful singles. The following year, amidst a world tour and at the band’s commercial peak, guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez announced that the band was going on indefinite hiatus. Not too long after, Rodriquez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala formed The Mars Volta, while Tony Hajjar, Paul Hinojos, and Ward created Sparta. -Michael Roffman
Swan Song: “One Armed Scissor”
Life and Death: 1976-1986
Spearheaded by guitarist Greg Ginn in 1976, Black Flag surfaced in Hermosa Beach, CA, twisting heads with its trademark furious hardcore punk. After spending four years touring with alternating vocalists, the likes of which included Keith Morris, the band enlisted Henry Rollins and released their highly influential debut LP, 1981’s Damaged. Over the next four years, Black Flag would go on to issue five more albums with Rollins, ending with 1985’s rather progressive In My Head. However, despite their creative drive and relentless touring, the band called it quits in 1986, citing inner conflicts and a revolving fanbase. As Rollins stated, “Why don’t we make a record that was like the last one so people won’t always be trying to catch up with what we’re doing?” -Michael Roffman
Swan Song: “Retired at 21”
Death From Above 1979
Life and Death: 2001-2006
Over the past decade, Death From Above 1979 has been described and defined by many critics and fans. Still, one half of the band bassist Jesse Keeler described their sound as best as anyone could:”…an elephant in your living room.” Hailing from Toronto, this Canadian duo of Keeler and Sebastien Grainger walked strong and carried a big stick, namely its three EPs and one studio full-length, 2004’s You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine. In 2006, however, the stomping officially came to a halt when Keeler announced the band’s dissolution on DFA1979’s online forum: “I know its been forever since I wrote anything on here. I’m sure by now most of you assume the band isn’t happening anymore since there are no shows, no work on a new album, etc. well. I wanted to let you know that your assumptions are correct.” -Phillip Roffman
Swan Song: “Little Girl”
Life and Death: 1971-1980
What started out as Linda Ronstadt’s studio band in 1971 quickly became America’s biggest musical act by the mid-70s. , the Eagles were the first band to take light alt-country mainstream, releasing six studio albums between 1972-1979 behind the songwriting strengths and conceptual propensities of Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Hotel California, the band’s reflection on the perilous state of America and one of the best-selling records of all time, was released just three years before the band’s demise in 1979. In 1980, less than a year after releasing their third straight number one album, The Long Run (ironically enough), The Eagles disbanded after in-band tensions came to the point of near-physical violence. -William Alton
Swan Song: “Heartache Tonight”
Life and Death: 1992-1997
In 1992, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras Michel united to form the Fugees. With direction from producer Ronald Bell, whose credits included Kool and the Gang, the New Jersey trio carved out their debut LP, Blunted on Reality, harnessing a unique sound that fused together soul, hip-hop, and reggae. Their label complicated things, however, pushing back its release date to February of 1994, despite it being finished in 1992. Yet, the LP spawned two popular singles — “Nappy Heads (Mona Lisa)” and “Vocab” — and garnered them enough praise that they’d follow it up with 1996’s groundbreaking The Score. Nabbing two Grammy Awards and topping the Billboard 200, The Score went on to be certified six times Platinum and named one of the finest hip-hop albums of all time by various critics. A year later, Hill, Jean, and Michel went their separate ways. -Michael Roffman
Swan Song: “Killing Me Softly”
Life and Death: 1992-2006
Born in Modesto, CA in 1992, Grandaddy were a quiet, little band who by the end of their 14 year run in 2006 made a big impression. Led by former skateboarder-turned-burnout-musical-visionary Jason Lytle, the band transformed their gentrified suburban angst into its own quirky, sci-fi-like indie pop sound, one dominated by visions of a dystopian society run amock by gross commercialization, intellectual laziness, and rank and file conformity. 2000’s The Sophtware Slump was so spot-on in its satirical critique of computer driven culture that it played more like an oddball prophesy than merely a record. Sadly, the band’s commercial success fell drastically short of its critical acclaim, and the band bowed out with a whimper, opting not to tour behind its final album, Just Like The Fambly Cat. -Ryan Bray
Swan Song: “Jeez Louise”