The final singles released by legendary artists

4 November 2023, 13:00

The Beatles in 1969 and the final ever single from 2023: Now And Then.
The Beatles in 1969 and the final ever single from 2023: Now And Then. Picture: Alamy Stock Photo

With The Beatles issuing their last single 53 years after they called it quits, how have other classic bands brought the curtain down on their career?

Radio X has previously looked at the curtain-call albums by your favourite acts, but what were the last single releases from these legends?

  1. The Beatles - Now & Then

    The Beatles - Now And Then (Official Music Video)

    Paul McCartney has said that this combination of 1970s John Lennon, 1990s George Harrison and 2023 Macca and Ringo is "probably" the last Beatles song - and it almost certainly is, unless the vaults offer up something we don't even know about at this stage. In March 1970, the final single to be issued during The Beatles' lifetime was Let It Be, which embarrassingly only went to Number 2 in the UK. Over in the US, they milked the Let It Be album some more and issued The Long And Winding Road a month after Paul announced he'd quite the band. Then again, in 1995 and 1996 we had the other "Threetles" songs: Free As A Bird and Real Love respectively, but it would seem they really are getting very near the end with Now And Then.

  2. The Smiths - Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

    Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (2011 Remaster)

    On 7 December 1987. the final single from the Smiths' final LP, Strangeways Here We Come, snuck into the shops and crept to Number 30 in the charts. The band had officially split by this point, but this was the last Smiths single to appear on the Rough Trade label and as such is their official swansong.

  3. Nirvana - All Apologies

    Nirvana - All Apologies (MTV Unplugged) (Official Video)

    The final song on the final Nirvana album... and the final single to be released before Kurt Cobain's death in April 1994. It was technically a double A-side with the controversial Rape Me, but nobody mentioned that song much at the time for obvious reasons. Pennyroyal Tea was due to get a single release in April '94, but Cobain's suicide caused its cancellation.

  4. Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart

    Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]

    Love Will Tear Us Apart had been pencilled in as a Joy Division for the best part of six months before Ian Curtis took his own life in May 1980, making this the last release that was planned with the singer. It made the UK Top 20 in June that year, but the band were too busy mourning their friend to notice.

  5. David Bowie - Lazarus

    David Bowie - Lazarus (Official Video)

    The final Bowie single before the genius died in January 2016, this was a shattering way to end a career. The moving video appeared on YouTube just three days before the superstar died, leaving the world with the image of the musician slowly backing into a wardrobe... and closing the door.

  6. The Stone Roses - Beautiful Thing

    The Stone Roses - Beautiful Thing

    All For One was the Roses' first single in over 20 years, appearing in May 2016. The follow-up was less heralded, but marks the swansong of the band. No album followed and guitarist John Squire has since confirmed that The Stone Roses have called it a day.

  7. Oasis - Falling Down

    Oasis - Falling Down

    Nobody knew it at the time, but the third single from 2008's Dig Out Your Soul would end up being the last release from the Gallaghers as a band. Noel has since said he's happy with this being the group's epitaph.

  8. The Verve - Rather Be

    The Verve - Rather Be

    The Wigan band's reunion for the album Forth in 2008 wasn't as earth-shattering as everyone had expected and with Richard Ashcroft appearing solo in the video, it was only a matter of time before time was called on The Verve. The track only made it to Number 56 in the charts. Shame.

  9. The Jam - Beat Surrender

    The Jam - Beat Surrender

    Everyone knew in advance that The Jam were shutting up shop at the tail end of 1982, which makes this upbeat Northern Soul-styled stomper all the more poignant. Britain sent it to Number 1 as a last salute to a job well done.

  10. The Maccabees - Spit It Out

    The Maccabees - Spit It Out

    Indie fans across the country wailed when it was announced that The Maccabees were ending their acclaimed career and the much-loved band wrapped things up with this song from their Marks To Prove It album.


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