Cher waves bye one more time


April 13, 2005


Saying goodbye is never easy, but for Cher, it seems to be downright impossible.

The 58-year-old pop diva has played 250 "final" concerts in North America alone since launching her Farewell Tour in June 2002. She played her first goodbye show in Chicago that July, then returned to say, "Hello, and goodbye again" three months later.

Now, Cher is coming to the United Center on Saturday to bid us one last, "So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye," in the words of the Trapp Family Singers.

Yeah. Sure. Right.

It is, of course, every artist's prerogative to choose when or if they retire. As long as they have an appreciative audience, there's no reason why they should have to. Popular music isn't the NFL, and the odd broken hip aside, no one is likely to get hurt.

By the same token, musicians should forgive us for being skeptical about accepting that they really mean to leave the stage, or suspecting that a "farewell tour" is really just the latest way to generate hype for a concert jaunt that might otherwise be a little slow in selling tickets.

With that in mind, here is a look at some of the most famous farewell concerts in rock history.


The Band

Captured for posterity by director Martin Scorsese in "The Last Waltz," Bob Dylan's former backing band played what is probably the most famous farewell concert ever on Thanksgiving Day, 1976, at San Francisco's Winterland. Guitarist-vocalist Robbie Robertson turned out to be the only musician who really meant to say goodbye, though, and various combinations of the others began to reunite in 1983. Those gigs have slowed in recent years because of the deaths of Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, as well as Robertson's continued reluctance to revisit his Band past.

Duration of their goodbye: Eight years.



The British supergroup -- guitarist-vocalist Eric Clapton, bassist-vocalist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker -- bid farewell with much ado on Nov. 26, 1968, at London's Royal Albert Hall, performing some of its notable psychedelic singles ("Sunshine of Your Love," "White Room," "Spoonful"), as well as a too-generous sampling of the wretched excess that made some doubt that they'd be missed (i.e., the endless drum solo "Toad"). This one seemed as if it would take, but the trio has announced a reunion tour starting next month at -- you guessed it -- the Royal Albert Hall.

Duration of their goodbye: Thirty-six years, six months.


The Judds

Country-pop mother-and-daughter act Naomi and Wynonna Judd bid farewell with a 116-date tour that grossed $21 million before it ended on Dec. 4, 1991. Wynonna dropped her last name and went solo, while her mom battled hepatitis C. With the disease in remission, Naomi corralled Wynonna and they started performing together again, starting in December 1999.

Duration of their goodbye: Eight years.


The Grateful Dead

The progenitor of all jam bands held its farewell concerts in October 1974 at Winterland (there must be something about the place). The Dead returned to the road in June 1976, and while some would contend that the long strange trip ended with the death of Jerry Garcia -- his farewell concert: July 9, 1995, at Soldier Field -- the surviving bandmates seem to view this as a mere technicality, and they just keep truckin'.

Duration of their goodbye: One year, eight months.


Barbra Streisand

The queen of all divas returned to the stage after a long absence for two farewell concerts at New Year's, 1994. She came back again for a final farewell tour in 1999, concluding with a "final, final" farewell concert on New Year's Day, 2000. We don't believe her; if the Democrats call, she'll come running.

Duration of their goodbye: Five years (between her first and second farewells).



The costumed heavy-metal clowns claimed to be saying goodbye with a tour that ended in Australia on April 13, 2001. They lied, and were back spitting blood and breathing fire at a Lane Bryant fashion show on Feb. 5, 2002. They would have returned even sooner, at the "United We Stand" benefit in October 2001, if they hadn't had to cancel that gig because Paul Stanley needed hip surgery.

Duration of their goodbye: Less than 10 months.



  • Phil Collins: Currently in the midst of a worldwide "First Final Farewell Tour."

  • Phish: Allegedly pulled the plug (for the second time) after playing a farewell concert last August for 65,000 people in Coventry, Vt.


  • The Smashing Pumpkins: Chicago's alternative-rock superstars drew the curtains in December 2000 after a farewell show at Metro. Billy Corgan was back three years later with Zwan, but that group said goodbye after one album. The Great Pumpkin will now release his solo debut on June 21.


  • The Spice Girls: Now here's a twist: The aging pop pinups are talking about reuniting in order to say "farewell" with one final tour. The resounding question: Does anyone besides David Beckham care?


  • Gloria Estefan: The Queen of Latin Pop claims to have left us with 2004's farewell tour. We'll see.