4 Artist Careers That Prove You Can Come Back from Anything

Everybody loves a comeback. Don't believe me? Go out and poll everyone in the world. See? Told ya. Anyway, here are four artists who soared and crashed, only to rise again.


At this point, I'd reference the phoenix from Greek mythology, who was reborn from the ashes, but then someone in the comments would call me a pretentious hipster, because the Internet is stupid and also doesn't know what "hipster" means, so, um, hey, look at this wicked awesome firebird and enjoy the article.

#4. Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. started his career with a bang, joining the 1985 cast of Saturday Night Live at the age of 20. Of course, that was the worst year of SNL's existence, but it was a nice achievement nonetheless.

Highlight of the '85 season? Dennis Miller doing the news years before trading in his sense of humor for Bill O'Reilly's love. (The last time I saw a trade that bad, Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy were experiencing a brief splash of celluloid relevance, amirite, chi-chi?)

From there things only improved as he landed the role of the blue-haired wisecracker in Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School. Then Downey's role in Less Than Zero helped make him a temporary pinup, winning young Tiger Beat hearts like an '80s version of Justin Bieber (if Justin Bieber were an actor and had male genitalia).

And then came his Academy Award-nominated performance as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin. His performance spans Chaplin's life from a youth to an old man, and he gets everything right: the accent, the humor, the pathos and the physical comedy.

And Then ...

Drugs. Lots of drugs. Downey was arrested a string of times from 1996 to 2001 and soon became a semi-blacklisted liability. He took work where he could find it, whether that be Ally McBeal, where he was fired due to more drug arrests, or Elton John videos.

But Then ...

With sobriety came success. First there was the criminally underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and then ... Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes. Who knew that Tony Stark and the world's greatest detective were both so much like Robert Downey Jr.?

But I don't really mean that as a dig, because everyone loves the hell out of Downey in those roles. And his sobriety is the key -- not just because it removes the liability of employing an addict, but because it makes him safe for consumption. We all love to invite the life of the party to our happenings: They're charming and funny and a good time. At first. But we never ask them back, because by the end of the night they've vomited on the rug, dripped blood in our bathroom and stolen our grandmother's engagement ring to pawn for drugs.

A reformed Downey means that we get to see our favorite lovable bad boy again, knowing that he'll be a blast but does not require us to hide the good silver. And now that he's got enough money to do all the blow in the world and apparently isn't doing all the blow in the world, maybe he'll get a chance to make some great non-popcorn movies, too.

#3. Neil Young

Oh man. Do you kids know Neil Young? No? Well, there were always two sides to ol' Neil: the Canadian folkie who wrote some classic acoustic stuff and occasionally hung with his buddies Crosby, Stills and Nash, and the rocking leader of Crazy Horse, whose music inspired Kurt Cobain and others to the point where he was called the Godfather of Grunge. If your parents hated you and didn't expose you to Neil or if you lived in a town with no classic rock radio station, or if you've just devoted the first part of your life to sucking so hard that there was no room for Neil Young, you should probably rectify that as soon as possible.

Some of his stuff probably slipped into your brain whether you wanted it to or not. Songs like "Old Man," "The Needle and the Damage Done" and "Like a Hurricane" are just constantly in the ether.

The Washington Post
Also, you might know him from his role as Cornelius in Planet of the Apes.

And Then ...

Around 1980, something went horribly wrong. Neil started making electric, synth-based music, and holy hell, was it awful. How awful? Kinda this awful:

But Then ...

The '80s drew to a close, and with the ousting of Republicans, our friend Neil came back to us. First with an album called Freedom that produced "Rockin' in the Free World" and "No More." A few years later, he set out to do a sequel to his classic 1972 album Harvest, entitled Harvest Moon. That's like making Sgt. Pepper 2, Darker Side of the Moon or Stevie (Tommy's Handi-Capable Younger Brother Who's Great at Pac-Man). And even though the bar was set impossibly high, Neil smoked it. Harvest Moon was a critical and commercial success, producing a string of instant rock radio favorites, including the title track.

Neil was making some of the most important music of his career while receiving the adulation of all the grunge rockers he inspired. Then Kurt Cobain got tired of having the brains on the inside of his head and shot himself, quoting a Neil Young lyric in his suicide note. (Incidentally, this was the worst thing Cobain had done to a great song since mangling the lyrics to Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" a year earlier.)

In response, Young released Sleeps With Angels, an album just as impressive as Harvest Moon, but reflecting his harder side. At 49, he released two of the strongest albums of his career, both completely distinct from each other and both perfect additions to his growing legend. Oh, yeah, and he was nominated for an Academy Award for "Philadelphia."

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