Message in a Bottle: The Police Back on Tour

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Before Sting, there was the Police. Before Phil Collins, there was Genesis. And before David Lee Roth, there was Van Halen. Different bands use different terms for breaking up: "taking a break," "exploring other opportunities" or "going on sabbatical," to name a few. But they all amount to the same thing: rock 'n' roll code for "I'm sick of this, and I'm sick of you."

The Police, made up of Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers, hit it big in America with its 1977 song "Roxanne" and its 1980 smash single "Don't Stand So Close to Me." The song put the band at the top of the pop charts, but the title was probably what the three band members were feeling when they called it quits in 1984. For the past two decades, Police fans have been waiting for the group's return.

The Police is not alone in its breakup saga. Many bands, from Genesis to the Smashing Pumpkins, have fallen victim to "creative differences." But don't fret, where there is a breakup, there is always room for a make up. Or, in the case of many 1980s rock bands, a reunion tour. That's the route the Police is now taking.

"It used to be the bands of the '60s and '70s would reunite for these big summer tours and, as time progresses, the ones from the '80s are doing it as well," explained Evan Serpic, associate editor at Rolling Stone magazine, in an interview with ABC News.

On Feb. 12, 2007, after more than two decades apart, the Police officially reunited and launched a reunion concert tour for this summer, centered on the 30th anniversary of its smash song and karaoke favorite, "Roxanne."

"All three members are going to be back for this tour, which is remarkable, considering the past animosity between Sting and the other two members," said Serpic.

The Police is not the only rock group returning to the stage. On Feb. 2, 2007, the ultimate '80s rock band, Van Halen, after a 23-year split, announced plans for a summer tour of its own, complete with lead singer David Lee Roth. And even Genesis, Phil Collins' iconic group with Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford, unveiled dates for its first collaboration in 15 years. (Could Peter Gabriel make an appearance with them?)

But why, all of a sudden, are these feuding rockers burying the hatchet and deciding to kiss and make up? Is there something in the water? What helped them get over the animosity? Was it therapy, yoga or a good talk? Or could the answer be that these tours are expected to gross at least $200 million? If the sold-out arenas and panoply of media attention are any indication, the Police, and the other reunion tours, stand to rake it in, in exchange for a few months of aggravation.

In the end, confessed Serpic, it's all about the Benjamins. "Reunion tours really are the best way to make money in the music business," he said.

Even Rage Against the Machine, the 1990s heavy metal band that touted revolutionary socialist beliefs, is staging a comeback tour. Now, seven years after its breakup, the band is no longer raging against the (capitalist) machine, but cashing in on it.

"This is the whole band. They were always an incredible live band," said Serpic. "Zac de la Rosa really added something that was really powerful. He's an incredible vocalist and lyricist."

The Smashing Pumpkins, the 1990s head-banging alternative rockers, also announced in April 2006 its planned reunion, a new CD in the works, and a tour as well, despite the fact that only two of its four members have officially signed on.

"It's unfortunate that it's only going to be two out of the four members," said Serpic. "I'd say if you have to pick two, those are the two that you want."

But, in the words of another famed reunion rocker, the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger, "old habits die hard," and less than a month after launching this summer's much-anticipated Van Halen reunion with David Lee Roth, the band announced that the tour would be postponed indefinitely. In a recent interview, Roth said, "We have fragile politics in Van Halen," proving that some creative differences are just too difficult to overcome.

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