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Five Couples Who Clicked Onstage After Breaking Up

Sonic Youth at the 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival
Sonic Youth at the 2010 Austin City Limits Music Festival
Photo by Brittanie Shey

Divorce is a strange and difficult thing. Nobody goes into a marriage expecting to ever have to get divorced. But what do you do when things don't work out, you get divorced, and yet your primary source of income and your creative outlet is inextricably tied to your former partner/spouse?

In the case of some bands where primary members were married (or practically married) couples, and eventually became divorced couples, they were faced with a difficult choice: let go of the band they share, or keep it going despite their differences. Most would just give up the band, but others have somehow managed to make it work for years on end.

In the wake of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore's messy recent breakup that doomed Sonic Youth, I decided to look at some of the bands who kept going despite the dissolution of the relationships behind the scenes.

5. The Mamas and the Papas The band most famous for launching the career of "Mama" Cass Elliot also contained the married couple of John and Michelle Phillips. Their marriage was strained after the formation of the band when Michelle and "other guy in the band" Denny Doherty had an affair. Nevertheless, the marriage made it through the band's most prominent lifespan.

By 1970, the Phillips were divorced, but they still had an album to deliver to their record label. They, along with Doherty and Elliot, managed to pull it together as best they could to put out one last record. People Like Us did not end up being the high point of their career, however, with Michelle Phillips describing it as "four people trying to avoid a lawsuit." Off and on throughout the years, until John's death in 2001, the Phillips' continued to perform together in Mamas and the Papas reunions and on solo recordings.

4. Sonny and Cher One of the most famous showbiz couples, Sonny Bono and Cher were married in 1964 and made a name for themselves in the late '60s and early '70s through a series of massive hits and variety shows on television, including The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. That show ended in 1974, but the format was revived in 1976 as The Sonny and Cher Show, a year after the pair had divorced.

Despite their break-up, they were professionals and continued to work together for the latter show's two-year run. At that point, Cher finally set out on her own for a stupendously successful solo career. They reunited for the last time for a 1987 appearance on Late Night with David Letterman.

3. ABBA Like the Mamas and the Papas, ABBA consisted of two men and two women, in this case two married couples. Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus were one couple, and the other was Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad.

Before the band's dissolution, both marriages would end in divorce. Fältskog and Ulvaeus divorced in 1979 and Andersson and Lyngstad divorced two years later in 1981. The band survived until 1982. The band has never reunited and probably never will, but ABBA remains just as popular today as they were in their heyday.

 

2. The White Stripes Jack and Meg White kept their relationship mysterious and vague at best. At first they put on the act of being brother and sister, but it was later revealed that they had been married and divorced prior to their band together ever even achieving any success.

For a divorced couple, they certainly didn't seem to have any hard feelings over it. That is, until Meg White remarried in 2009. The band quickly dissolved soon thereafter, finally issuing a statement that they were finished in 2011. Then Jack White released a very bizarre solo album called Blunderbuss that certainly sounded like a pained breakup record. Who even knows with that pair?

1. Fleetwood Mac The most famous couple to break up and still make their business together work is Fleetwood Mac, and as they prove, it's not easy. Though they never married, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham's relationship lasted from the late '60s on into Fleetwood Mac's great mid-70s success, but by the time of their hit 1977 record Rumours, they were done. Likewise, John and Christine McVie were together from 1969 until right after Rumours, when they divorced.

Somehow, the band stuck around through both breaks, even though the relationships remain tenuous to this day. In fact, even in March, Buckingham and Nicks were involved in a back-and-forth row via Rolling Stone. Yet a new EP from the band recently dropped, titled simply Extended Play, and Fleetwood Mac is set to hit Houston's Toyota Center tomorrow night.



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