Pressing pause: Shania Twain, Kate Bush and other musical comebacks a long time coming

As Shania Twain releases her first new album in 15 years, we look at other musical comebacks that were a long time in the making.

For musicians like Twain, how long is too long to be out of the spotlight?

Shania Twain performs at the opening night ceremony of the U.S. Open tennis tournament on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in New York. Twain pushed through much physical and emotional trauma to make her new album, which comes out this Friday. (Charles Sykes/Associated Press/Invision)

As the once and perhaps returning Queen of Country Pop Shania Twain releases her first album in 15 years on Friday, fans and critics may be asking, has she been gone from the limelight too long to make a successful comeback?

Twain stepped out of the public eye not long after her 2002 album Up! due to vocal problems and marital woes: she split up with her husband Robert (Mutt) Lange — the man who had co-written and produced her big hits — after he had an affair with her best friend.

The Canadian country legend puts out her first album in 15 years this September 0:57

Twain suffered from lesions on her vocal cords and was diagnosed with dysphonia, a vocal cord disorder which she said was caused by Lyme Disease.

Twain still has legions of devotees, eagerly awaiting her new album Now, but in the decade and a half since she released original tunes, a lot has changed.

Many new artists have come along to fill the country-pop void (hello Taylor Swift!).

And since her heyday, the music industry has been transformed, with singles taking over from albums, and streaming surpassing radio play or album sales.


Toronto Sun music critic Jane Stevenson told CBC News that in her view "15 years is a long time in the record industry to go away," but noted "if all these people who grew up with Shania decide 'yes, I want to go out and support' and actually physically go buy her album or download it or however they'd like to buy it, she may surprise all of us."

"But I do think it's an uphill battle for her."

As we wait to see how Twain's comeback turns out, here are a few other musical acts who hit pause, then came back to play again.

David Bowie

The prolific David Bowie hit a decade-long dry spell between 2003 and 2013. He went on to release two albums (The Next Day and Blackstar) before his death. (Jimmy King/Facebook)

While the late Brit rocker had tons of timeless songs and remains hugely influential, the prolific David Bowie hit a decade-long dry patch between 2003 and 2013.

He gave up touring in 2004 following a heart attack and released no new album for 10 long years. Bowie finally broke the silence with a surprise announcement on his 66th birthday in January 2013; his first studio album in a decade titled The Next Day would be released that March.

He followed that up with another critically lauded record, Blackstar, released just two days before his untimely death on January 10 2016.


Kate Bush

Kate Bush disappeared from the public eye in 1993 and didn't return with an album until 2005.

English singer-songwriter Kate Bush topped the U.K. Singles Chart in 1978 at age 19 with her debut song Wuthering Heights. She was the first female artist to hit No. 1 in the U.K. with a self-penned song, staying atop the pop chart for four weeks.

Bush followed it up with several other hits and albums, but after her seventh studio album, The Red Shoes, came out in 1993 she disappeared from the public eye, taking time to deal with the deaths of her guitarist, and her mother. She also gave birth to a son in 1998.

Her next album, Aerial, didn't appear until 2005.

She took an even longer break between concerts. Her first tour was in 1979 and apart from an occasional live appearance, fans had to wait an astounding 35 years until she hit the stage again for a series of 22 concerts in London in 2014.


Phil Collins

After announcing his retirement back in 2002, Collins came back this summer with his Not Dead Yet Tour. (Getty Images)

The former Genesis drummer turned singer had a hugely successful solo career including the 1981 ear worm In The Air Tonight. But he surprised fans by announcing his retirement after his last album of original material in 2002, putting on his cheekily named First Final Farewell Tour.

Collins said the reason was that years of drumming had taken its toll on his body.  

Apart from a brief Genesis reunion tour five years later, and a couple of one-off appearances, he was absent until his Not Dead Yet Tour this past summer. Some dates were postponed until November after Collins injured himself in a fall.


Leonard Cohen

Cohen released his final album You Want It Darker on October 21, less than three weeks before his death.

After discovering he'd been defrauded of most of his savings by his longtime manager, Leonard Cohen returned to the concert stage in 2008 with his first tour in 15 years.

The Death of a Ladies' Man artist had spent much of the 90s as a Buddhist monk in seclusion at a monastery near Los Angeles.

There was also a nine year gap between his albums The Future in 1992 and Ten New Songs in 2001.


Guns N' Roses

Musician Axl Rose and Slash of Guns N' Roses performs onstage during day 2 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. The band returned in 2008 with Chinese Democracy, marking 15 years since an album. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images )

The American hard rock band, led by vocalist Axl Rose and lead guitarist Slash, released five albums between 1987 and 1993, selling 100 million copies. Then things fell apart.

Fans had to wait 15 years for the next Guns N' Roses album, Chinese Democracy, in 2008. It's often called the most expensive rock album in history since it cost a reported $14 million to produce with Axl Rose as the only remaining original member. 

It earned positive reviews but sold less than expected. Slash eventually rejoined GNR in 2016.

About the Author

Nigel Hunt

Arts producer

Nigel Hunt is a longtime CBC News producer covering the arts beat. Previously, he served as a magazine writer and editor.