What is the recipe for a good band? Are they formed when you get a bunch of friends who want to jam out together like 5 Seconds of Summer? Or is it better to have complete strangers thrust together with a common goal in mind – perhaps on a reality show, as proved successful with Little Mix? Which origin story is conducive to a long-lasting commitment like that of bands like U2? And can a band survive if one member decides to go solo?
Apparently, there is no magic formula, but one thing is for sure — it’s not easy to stay together after a member’s departure from the pack. We may have gained some incredible solo artists, but we still miss the girl groups and boy bands that they were once a part of. Sure, sometimes these bands actually reunite after their breakups and so-called hiatuses, but sometimes it’s a very long wait.
16. Fifth Harmony
Members: Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane, Lauren Jauregui, and Camila Cabello
The beginning: Like One Direction before them, this was a group thrown together after failed individual auditions in 2012. This time it was on the US version of The X Factor and with the aid of judges Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, and L.A. Reid. After a couple of name changes they settled on Fifth Harmony. Despite strong performances, they finished third. Their song “Worth It” took off in 2015, and the five-some went on to have several other hits including “That’s My Girl” and “Work from Home.” They have been one of the most popular American girl groups to date.
The end: In December 2016, after months of rumors circulating regarding tension within the group, 5H announced that Camila decided to leave the band and do the whole solo thing. The others continued without her, releasing an album, going on tour, and also doing their solo projects on the side. 15 months after Camila left, Ally, Normani, Dinah, and Lauren revealed they, too, decided to go on an indefinite hiatus to do their own things. Harmonizers were downright heartbroken.
15. New Kids on the Block
Members: Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood
The beginning: The group started as an answer to the demise of New Edition. Wahlberg was the first selected and he helped recruit his friends to the new boy band. Their first album tanked and the group decided to move away from the bubblegum sound. It was the right move. They started making more appearances and by 1990, they had a mainstream hit with “Step by Step.”
The end: Allegations of lip-synching caused a decline in NKOTB’s popularity, but when Jonathan Knight left the band after suffering from panic attacks, the group decided to disband and pursue solo projects. They did have a few mini-reunions through the later ’90s and early aughts, but in 2007 they had a full-blown reunion – with Jonathan included!
Members: Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass
The beginning: Almost Backstreet Boys member Chris Kirkpatrick was tasked with finding young men to form the rival boy band. He reached out to his friend Fatone; JT was found through his Mickey Mouse Club fame and he recommended former co-star JC Chasez to round out the group. Lance came along when the original fifth member dropped out. (Bet he regrets that!) They broke out in the US with a Disney concert special and hit “I Want You Back.” They went on to teen idol stardom and are now one of the most popular boy bands of all time.
The end: After their 2002 tour, the group announced what was supposed to be a temporary hiatus. Timberlake released his solo album Justified featuring the iconic “Cry Me a River” and became a global superstar. JT infamously called it “Justin Timberlake’s first album,” and promised, “we are going to do another *NSYNC record,” but they never did.
13. Destiny’s Child
Members: Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, LaTavia Roberson, LeToya Luckett, Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams.
The beginning: The group underwent several tranformations since first forming in 1990 – both in name and with their members. After lots of internal conflict, two of the original members, LaTavia and LeToya, peaced out and were replaced by Michelle and Farrah. Franklin dropped out shortly after and the final trio was set. They found success with hits like “Say My Name,” “Jumpin’, Jumpin’,” and “Survivor.”
The end: The ladies all embarked on solo projects during a three-year hiatus before recording another album together, Destiny Filled. They then announced that they were officially breaking up, but that there were no hard feelings. By then, Bey and Kelly’s careers as dynamic solo artists had already taken off.
12. Take That
Members: Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen, Jason Orange and Robbie Williams
The beginning: The group formed when Manchester, UK-based promoter Nigel Martin-Smith sought out young men through auditions to complement singer-songwriter Gary Barlow. They found success with the preexisting material and peaked internationally with their song “Back for Good” in 1995.
The end: When Robbie Williams was battling drug abuse, Jason Orange encouraged him to quit the band. Take That continued on the rest of their world tour without him before officially disbanding in 1996. Meanwhile, Williams became a global icon. In 2005, Take That was back as a quartet – though Jason quit the band in 2014.
11. The Fugees
Members: Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Pras Michel
The beginning: Pras and Hill met in high school and first formed a trio with a friend named Marcy. Jean, Pras’ cousin, joined soon after. After Marcy left, they went through a few name changes until they landed on The Fugees. They found success with they hit album The Score.
The end: Each started working on solo projects while the band was still technically together. Lauryn Hill received international acclaim and won multiple Grammys for her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Her skyrocketing to fame, along with tensions in the group resulting from a failed relationship between Hill and a married Jean, made attempts at another album completely fruitless.
Members: Liam Gallagher, Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs, Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan, Tony McCarroll, and Noel Gallagher
The beginning: Taking their name from a poster which hung in the Gallagher brothers’ room, Oasis found early success with their first album Definitely Maybe. It became the fastest selling debut album in the UK. Their follow up album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? brought them international acclaim with the hit “Wonderwall.”
The end: Bad blood and consistent battles between the brothers resulted in Liam’s departure from the band saying, “I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer,” in 2009. The group ultimately split that same year.
9. New Edition
Members: Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant
The beginning: The band’s final lineup came together after several member changes. They got their big break after impressing singer/producer Maurice Starr in a talent contest, and the union produced their hit album Candy Girl and a world tour.
The end: A couple of albums later, the group voted Brown out because of “behavioral issues.” He was replaced by Johnny Gill. Though the band remained a success for a couple of years after they dropped Bobby Brown, once they saw what a hit he’d become on his own, the rest of the gang wanted to try their hands on solo fame – which led to their first breakup. They came together again for their 1997 Home Again tour, but Brown and DeVoe were compelled to leave early after they got into a fist fight on stage. While the other band members finished off the tour, New Edition’s second hiatus commenced shortly after that.
8. The Beatles
The beginning: John Lennon started once of the most iconic boy bands in history during his time in secondary school with several friends. After a few changes with band members, they wound up with the final lineup that would cause mass hysteria all over the world over with hits like “From Me To You” and “She Loves You.” Their US appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 is one of the most memorable moments in music history.
The end: After releasing his first solo single, Lennon informed the band he was leaving. There was growing discord amongst the members due in part to Lennon’s relationship with artist Yoko Ono – or at least that’s the way the story goes. The group dissolved shortly after.
7. The Supremes
Members: Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross, and Betty McGlown
The beginning: The four ladies all grew up in the Brewster-Douglass housing project in Detroit. They came together as The Primettes in 1959 as a sister act to The Primes, who would go on to become The Temptations. Betty left and was replaced, but when the replacement also moved on, the group decided to remain a trio. Motown exec Berry Gordy signed them to the label and after a name change the group took off, churning out multiple hits.
The end: Dissention arose in the group after the ladies observed Gordy paid an inordinate amount of attention to Ross. Unsurprisingly, Ross went solo in 1970. The group rotated through several less successful lineups before calling it quits.
6. No Doubt
Members: Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont, Adrian Young, Gabrial McNair, and Stephen Bradley
The beginning: The Southern California band weathered the death of a founding member and several lineup switches before finding the right combo. Impressed by their dedicated following, record exec Tony Ferguson signed the band to the newly minted Interscope Records. Their unique sound took a while to capture nationwide audiences but the release of 1995’s Tragic Kingdom propelled them into the mainstream.
The end: Gwen stepped out with her solo effort Love. Angel. Music. Baby in 2003 and it achieved multi-platinum status. Since then, the group has had several hiatuses – seemingly whenever Gwen decides she wants to do her own thing.
5. Black Eyed Peas
Members: will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo, and Fergie
The beginning: The group formed in 1988 with schoolmates will.i.am and apl.de.ap before the others joined in years later. As BEP, they went on to sell millions of records, starting with their smash “Where Is the Love?” from the album Elephunk in 2003.
The end: Fergie found solo success with her debut album The Dutchess in September 2006. Meanwhile, will.i.am was reaching new heights by collaborating with other famous pop artists. They both returned to record a couple more albums with the band before parting yet again. As of now, the band is back together, but Fergie is no longer with them. Only time will tell if BEP can make it last without her.
4. The Police
Members: Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland
The beginning: The group formed in 1976 and performed for the first time together the following year in Birmingham, England. Their sound infused jazz, reggae, and progressive rock, earning them legions of fans. They won six Grammys for hits like “Message in a Bottle.”
The end: Sting decided to embark on a solo career in 1983 and found mainstream success. The group subsequently disbanded in 1986.
Members: Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel
The beginning: The founding members met at a private school in Surrey, England. They found initial success in their homeland and Europe before Gabriel decided to leave the group in 1974. But the rest remained in tact and, after failing to find a new lead singer, they turned to Collins. He turned out to be the ideal choice as they managed to find fame globally with hits like “Follow You Follow Me.”
The end: Collins left in 1996 to continue to pursue a very successful solo career. The rest of the members persevered but weren’t able to recapture the magic and took an indefinite hiatus in 2000.
2. Jackson 5
Members: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael Jackson
The beginning: The group was originally made up of three brothers from Gary, Indiana before becoming a quintet with the addition of the two younger bros Marlon and Michael. They gained fame on Motown Records with hits like “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” and “I’ll Be There” and sold 100 million records globally.
The end: Jermaine was replaced by brother Randy after he departed in 1975. The five continued successfully before Jermaine returned in 1983. At the end of their Victory album tour, Marlon and Michael both left the group. The rest of the group tried to carry on, but album sales steeply declined. Michael went on to become an international superstar known as the King of Pop.
1. One Direction
Members: Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik
The beginning: In 2010, each of the group’s five members auditioned individually for British singing show, The X Factor. None of them made the show as solo acts but judge Simon Cowell saw their potential as a boy band, and the quintet formed. Harry came up with the One Direction moniker, and they quickly became a fan fave of viewers. They came in third place but, after signing with Cowell’s record label, went on to become a global sensation with hits like “What Makes You Beautiful,” “Best Song Ever,” and “Story of My Life.”
The end: Zayn’s departure was announced on March 25th, 2015 and initially, the group decided to continue as a foursome. Harry, Louis, Liam, and Niall released their album Made in the A.M. that fall and announced it would be their last before taking a hiatus to focus on solo projects. Rumors started circulating in 2016 that the hiatus was permanent – especially seeing the success Harry and Niall have both had with their solo albums. The group has yet to reunite, and it’s doubtful that if they did, Zayn would come back to them.