Some farewell albums are released intentionally while others are not. There are many reasons why an album ends up being a band’s last, like the death of one of the bandmates or infighting between members, but there are also other cases that are more bittersweet, like the band mutually deciding to part ways. Here’s a list of some of the best last albums. What others would you include?
The Best Farewell Albums
Nirvana – In Utero (1993)
Released on September 13th, 1993, In Utero is Nirvana’s third and final album and features singles like “Heart-shaped Box” and “All Apologies.” The band split up seven months later, after the death of lead singer Kurt Cobain.
The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
Let It Be, which had a delayed release, came out a year after Abbey Road but was actually recorded before, making the latter The Beatles’ swan song. It also features the first and only George Harrison A-Side, the song “Something.”
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland (1968)
Electric Ladyland is the group’s most commercially successful and only number one album, as well as the only album that Jimi Hendrix produced. Sadly, Hendrix died two years later, in 1970, making this his unintentional goodbye.
David Bowie – Blackstar (2016)
David Bowie released his 25th and final studio album as a surprise to go along with his 69th birthday. Bowie died two days later of liver cancer, a diagnosis he had not revealed to the public. He recorded the album knowing it would be his last, as a way to say goodbye to his millions of fans around the world.
Queen – Made In Heaven (1995)
Made In Heaven came out in 1995, four years after Freddie Mercury’s death, and was produced by adding instrumentation to his pre-recorded vocals and piano parts. The band didn’t continue after his passing until guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor reunited in 2004. However, bass guitarist John Deacon retired from music in 1997.
Amy Winehouse – Back To Black (2006)
Amy Winehouse’s groundbreaking second album spawned five singles: “Rehab,” “You Know I’m No Good,” “Back to Black,” “Tears Dry On Their Own,” and “Love is a Losing Game.” Sadly, the album was also her last. She died in 2011 at the age of 27.
Cream – Goodbye (1969)
Right before the release of their 1968 third album Wheels of Fire, Cream announced they would be disbanding and going on a farewell tour. Three live recordings featured on Goodbye are from that tour, and the album was then released posthumously.
John Lennon – Double Fantasy (1980)
John Lennon took a five-year hiatus to raise his son Sean, but he returned to music full time in 1980 to record his and Yoko Ono’s fifth album Double Fantasy. Although it initially received negative reviews, the album became a worldwide critical success after Lennon’s murder, which occurred just three weeks after its release.
Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
Johnny Cash released a series of four albums, all titled “American,” and this is the last in the series and the last album to come out during his lifetime. The majority of the songs are covers, most notably the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt,” which proved to be a widely successful single. Cash died in 2003 at the age of 71.
Talking Heads – Naked (1988)
Naked is the group’s eighth studio album and was released shortly after their breakup. However, they didn’t announce their disbandment until 1991, three years later, when lead singer David Byrne mentioned in a Los Angeles Times article that he had left the band. They briefly reunited in 2002 to perform at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Janis Joplin – Pearl (1971)
Pearl is Janis Joplin’s second album but is sadly also her last. Some of her most famous songs are featured on the album, including “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Half Moon,” “Cry Baby,” and “Mercedes Benz.” Pearl was released posthumously, three months after her death of an accidental drug overdose.
Traffic – Last Exit (1969)
One could argue that Last Exit isn’t Traffic’s final album, as they ended up reuniting. However, it was released after their initial breakup and before they got back together. Steve Winwood had left the band to form the supergroup Blind Faith, which lasted less than a year. When he then started recording solo work, he brought the former members of Traffic into the studio with him to collaborate on some of his songs, and they decided to re-form.
Others Farewell Albums To Check Out:
The Doors – L.A. Woman (1971)
Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door (1979)
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Family Style (1990)
REM – Collapse Into Now (2011)
Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker (2016)
The Smiths – Strangeways, Here We Come (1987)
The Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks (1977)
T. Rex – Dandy in the Underworld (1977)
Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul (2008)
Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around (1968)
Credence Clearwater Revival – Mardi Gras (1972)
The Police – Synchronicity (1983)