Most of us go to work every day at jobs we find redundant, collaborating with people we don’t like. And, generally speaking, the pay is terrible, and the benefits are worse. Yet, we plod on. But for some estranged bandmates, not even the lure of millions in collective earnings and/or reflective hosannas from the press is enough to justify taking a stage or booking studio time for one more go-round.

Fortunately for us, they’re almost always vocal about reunion gossip, which leads to one of two recurring scenarios: 1. Said band eventually reconciles for the love of music and money, consequently subsisting on a diet of their own words, or 2. Artist sticks to their guns, and either initiates or has the final say in an embarrassing, but highly entertaining, series of public exchanges.

And given the ongoing ubiquity of rumors about future Smiths gatherings, recent bickering amongst the original Black Sabbath foursome and a the release of a new Smashing Pumpkins record (featuring exactly one original member of the Smashing Pumpkins), one can’t help but conjure notorious instances of intra-band smack-talk. We’ve tracked down 10 of our favorite quotes — and ranked them in order of least antagonistic to most outright vitriolic — that suggest reuniting is even more complicated than breaking up, and that as a fan, it’s often best to have a grain of salt nearby.

10. Black Sabbath

Black SabbathWhy They Split: Despite guitarist Tony Iommi’s recent lymphoma diagnosis, the original Black Sabbath lineup — Iommi, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward — were all set for yet another nostalgic trek in 2012, including a highly anticipated showing at this summer’s Lollapalooza. That is, until Ward released a public statement in May detailing how he felt slighted by the terms of his contract and would not partake in either the live dates or upcoming recording sessions.

Bill Ward On Reunion Odds (via, May 2012): “I sincerely regret to inform you that after a final effort to participate in the upcoming Sabbath shows, a failure to agree has continued … This statement is even more painstaking to write, as I was particularly excited to play alongside Tony Iommi after the recent treatments he underwent. I wanted that to become a reality.”

Likelihood Of Eating His Words: If Tony can persevere through illness, we’re sure Ward and Co.’s attorneys can sort this mess out. Still, it’s hard to blame a 64-year-old drummer from avoiding rigorous hours on an unforgiving stool sans back support unless it happens on his own terms.

9. Led Zeppelin

Led ZeppelinWhy They Split: The legendary psych-blues rockers called it a day in 1980 following the untimely passing of drummer John Bonham. In 2007, singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones came together for a one-off show in London with Bonham’s son Jason behind the kit. But despite massive demand and endless speculation since, the scenario hasn’t been repeated.

Robert Plant On Reunion Odds (via Rolling Stone, January 2011): “There’s nothing worse than a bunch of jaded old farts, and that’s a fact. People who have written their story, they’ve gotten to the point where nothing moves. I don’t deal in that, and I don’t deal with anybody who deals in that … It’s a bit of a pain in the pisser to be honest. Who cares? I know people care, but think about it from my angle. Soon, I’m going to need help crossing the street.”

Likelihood Of Eating His Words: Plant’s comments, along with his continued solo output and acclaimed collaborations with artists like Allison Kraus, indicate he and Zeppelin trust their artistic instincts and don’t want to embarrass themselves or the fans. Unfortunately for diehards, they seem comfortable reconciled to their moment in time.

8. Oasis

OasisWhy They Split: You may not have heard, but brothers/bandmates Liam and Noel Gallagher have had a tendency to bicker. In 2009, they officially called it a career together, which led to various legal entanglements, petty mudslinging, strident character assassination and accusations of harassment — notably Noel’s claim that Liam once lunged at him with his guitar readied like a battle weapon — and overall intolerable cruelty.

Liam Gallagher On Reunion Odds (via The Independent, November 2011): “Noel’s got to do his solo thing, and realize he’s not that good without his younger brother.”

Likelihood Of Eating His Words: Noel has, indeed, been doing his solo thing, as has Liam under the guise of Beady Eye. But Liam’s words seem pretty cheeky, and if any group is liable to relapse into unapologetic opportunism, it’s Oasis. Whether a new album would even be worth the sibling rancor is another issue.

7. The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing PumpkinsWhy They Split: The beloved, Gish/Siamese Dream/Mellon Collie-era quartet of vocalist/guitarist Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha, bassist D’arcy Wretzky and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin haven’t worked together in 13 years, and the Pumpkins ceased to be in 2000 after drugs, along with the emotional expense of endless touring and related demands, took their inevitable toll. Corgan resurrected the group in 2005, but a la the reformed Guns N’ Roses (see below), with a cast of mostly new faces.

Billy Corgan On Reunion Odds (via Rolling Stone, May 2011): “[The original lineup]’s just one of those things that are never going to happen. If you don’t see somebody for a while, there’s the old thing, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ Well, we haven’t had absence. The things that have happened between us in the interim haven’t been good. There’s been lawsuits and lots of stupid stuff … Jimmy and I aren’t enemies, he’s just off doing what he wants to do, as he should … But I cannot in any way, shape or form, ever envision standing on a stage playing music again with James and D’arcy. I just don’t see any situation where that would be possible.”

Likelihood Of Eating His Words: Hard to see why he would. The Pumpkins’ latest, Oceania, is widely being hailed as Corgan’s finest output under any moniker since Mellon Collie, and Iha in particular has stayed content with projects ranging from A Perfect Circle to Tinted Windows.

6. Organized Konfusion

Organized KonfusionWhy They Split: It was more of a separation, really. After their third LP, 1997′s The Equinox, failed to make an impact, Queens MCs Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po agreed on an amicable hiatus. As Po described at the time, “We didn’t want to hear the fans say the same thing like, ‘You’re dope but you are not getting the right promotion’. That gets tiring.”

Prince Po On Reunion Odds (via, June 2004): “I’m not going to feed into that Organized shit anymore. I feel I have a responsibility to my true fans to just keep making good music…. It’s becoming too much of a political thing to make this Organized thing happen and it takes the fun out of making the actual music. Many fans await that album, and it’s a blessing to have people demanding your material, but I think it’s a slap in the face of fans when you complicate the process of making music with all these petty demands, requirements and excuses.”

Likelihood Of Eating His Words: As it happens, Po’s already more than full. Most of that beef stemmed from his and Monch’s disagreement over the inclusion of Monch’s friend, rapper O.C., as a permanent member of the group. By 2009, the duo played a series of reunion gigs, recorded a new track together and hinted at a possible full-length that has yet to materialize. How’s that crow taste, Po?

5. Guns N’ Roses

Guns N' Roses
Why They Split: The usual reasons: drugs, contractual disagreements, in-fighting, differences in creative direction, lawsuits, high-profile misbehavior, etc. Singer Axl Rose, guitarists Izzy Stradlin and Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler splintered gradually throughout the early 1990s, and would have done so much speedier and sooner had they all been clean and sober at one time.

Axl Rose On Reunion Odds (via press release, April 2011): “Let sleeping dogs lie or lying dogs sleep or whatever. Time to move on. People get divorced. Life doesn’t owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another’s, or in this case several others’, expense.”

Likelihood Of Eating His Words: So not gonna happen. Axl’s making buckets of money with his Voltron mutation of GN’R, Slash, Duff and late-period Guns drummer Matt Sorum have had their own success with Velvet Revolver and other side gigs, Izzy’s long since abandoned that kind of lifestyle and Steven, sadly, has spent more time on televised rehab programs than selling records. To quote Axl quoting Paul McCartney, sometimes it’s best to watch things “live and let die.”

4. The Pharcyde

The PharcydeWhy They Split: After 1995′s Labcabincalifornia was met with disappointing sales, mentally unstable member Fatlip departed for a spotty career on his own. A few years later, Slimkid3 followed suit and focused on his solo ouput, leaving Bootie Brown and Imani as the lone soldiering members.

Imani On Reunion Odds (via, Date N/A): “I can’t see a reunion record happening because [Slimkid] is really stubborn. He has a lot to do before he could even think about coming back. I’d rather have less talented people involved who will give their honest everything than have a muthafucka that don’t wanna be there. That’s just gonna hinder the process. I have respect for all parties musically. Personally, there are some conflicts. I don’t question their musical ability. I question their loyalty and their judgment.”

Likelihood Of Eating His Words: To the surprise of many, Imani and Tre not only put aside their differences, but the erratic Fatlip got his act together as well, and the four original MCs came together at Rock the Bells in 2008, in addition to a handful of other appearances. Still no signs of a new LP, although perhaps Pharcyde jams are a dish best served retro.

3. Van Halen

Van HalenWhy They Split: Mostly because David Lee Roth is annoying. Or due to the Van Halen brothers’ tyrannical rule of the group, depending on who you ask. At one point, DLR replacement and eventual castoff Sammy Hagar may have argued for the latter. But the fightin’-est words have always emerged out of the David/Eddie/Alex triangle, particularly after a PR stunt gone awry at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards led to a reformation that never happened.

Alex And Eddie Van Halen On Reunion Odds (via MTV Week in Rock, 1996): Eddie, regarding Sammy Hagar: “Bottom line: his work ethic sucked. If he wanted to be in this band and be a team player, he’d be here right now, OK?” Alex, regarding David Lee Roth: “I think it’s important to remember that the 1984 Dave is a lot different from the 1996 Dave. It would not only have embarrassed the band, it would have insulted the audience.”

Likelihood Of Eating Their Words: Predictably, Alex and Eddie went on to consume more of their own smack-talk than their 1984 roadies did green M&Ms. Not only did Hagar briefly cash in on a little nostalgia tour with the boys in the mid-2000s, but DLR found his way back into the VH brothers’ good graces long enough to sustain partial tours in 2007-’08. As most are aware, they even released A Different Kind Of Truth earlier this year to warm reviews and embarked on a well-received international tour. A tour which, naturally, has been postponed until a TBD date due to band-member exhaustion (not, as one might imagine, simply tiring of each other).

2. The Fugees

The FugeesWhy They Split: The Score cemented Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras as hip-hop’s gritty avant-garde, but also launched Hill as a superstar in ways reminiscent to Gwen Stefani’s visibility atop No Doubt. Hill capitalized with a Grammy-lauded solo record, Wyclef found his own muse apart from the group, and Pras even landed a hit single, “Ghetto Supastar,” with Maya and ODB. And then, well, Lauryn had a bunch of kids with Bob Marley’s son, Rohan, and became an eccentric, Sly Stone-esque recluse. Meanwhile, Wyclef was busy presaging as hip-hop’s omnipotent pop ambassador.

Pras On Reunion Odds (via Billboard, July 2007/, August 2007): To Billboard: “Me and ’Clef, we on the same page, but Lauryn is in her zone, and I’m fed up with that shit. Here she is, blessed with a gift, with the opportunity to rock and give and she’s running on some bullshit? I’m a fan of Lauryn’s but I can’t respect that.”  To All Hip-Hop: “Before I work with Lauryn Hill again, you will have a better chance of seeing Osama Bin Laden and [George W.] Bush in Starbucks having a latte, discussing foreign policies … At this point, I really think it will take an act of God to change her, because she is that far out there.”

Likelihood Of Eating His Words: Not so much. After all, these quotes came after a brief, ill-fated reconvening for a tour and new single over the course of 2004-’05, and Hill’s subsequent live re-emergences haven’t exactly stirred optimism over her musical facility. Sometimes, it’s better to know when to fold ’em than kill audiences slowly with mediocre songs.

1. The Smiths

The SmithsWhy They Split: That’s another he said/he said bit of rock ’n’ roll lore. Vocalist Morrissey generally sticks to his guns that guitarist Johnny Marr put the group’s demise in motion after departing. Marr, for his part, has always said he wanted to explore new musical directions, which alienated him from his songwriting partner. However you slice it, heaven knows their obsessive fans have been miserable since.

Morrissey On Reunion Odds (via Uncut, May 2006): “I would rather eat my own testicles than reform the Smiths, and that’s saying something for a vegetarian.”

Likelihood Of Eating His Words: Considering that Moz has hinted at retiring from work as a solo artist, it’s dreadfully unlikely that he, Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce would start picking gladioli anytime soon for a triumphant Smiths reunion. Morrissey is not only the most caustic of all the esteemed musicians on this list, but also the most consistently resolute, so the odds are next to nil. Good thing there’s roughly 875 best-of compilations — not to mention YouTube — to tide us over.

So tell us: Who did we miss? Which quotes are more vitriolic than the ones on this list?

Comments (76)
  1. Peter Gabriel w/ Genesis

    • They did a one-off show together in ’82, I think. Not sure if Steve Hackett was part of that, though.

    • Good one. And now that Phil Collins says he’s essentially retired/is focusing on collecting Alamo artifacts, it’s never gonna happen.

    • That’s one reunion I would die for. Unfortunately, I think it’s more a matter of Phil’s health at this point. Even though Hackett has said he’d be all for it, Peter has constantly been against a reunion. Shame.

      • They actually came close, in 2007. But, at the last minute, Peter dropped out. Also worth noting, after Phil announced his retirement was a quote on a Mojo mag from Peter that basically said “I’m ready for that reunion now”. I’m sure it’s unrelated, as Peter has no beef with Phil.

        They did reunite in 1982, here is the full audio of that show:

  2. While Moz’s quote is choice, I’m surprised you left out any mention of the reported $70 million that was offered to Marr and Morrissey if they would perform onstage together as “The Smiths” (sans Rourke and Joyce, the latter of whom is definitely on Moz’s shit list). See also Marr’s recent comments about the Smiths reforming only if David Cameron would step down as PM.

  3. Talking Heads
    Velvet Underground

    • I heard Bonnaroo asks Byrne to reform Talking Heads every year.

      • David Byrne seems kind of similar to Jonathan Richman in that he just has zero interest in playing the type of music that he made when he was in his 20s. That, and the fact that–yeah–he probably doesn’t get along with Chris and Tina. The whole “No Talking, Just Head” project was probably the nail in the coffin. They sure didn’t have much of a “band” vibe going during that Rock & Roll Hall of Fame performance.

    • The original VU (including John Cale and excluding Doug Yule) reunited back in the 90s and released a video of one of the shows that was supposed to kick off a big tour. But then Reed and Cale got to each other’s throats (which is not a surprise really) and it was over before it began really. And it’s probably unlikely they’d reunite now that Sterling Morrison has passed on but if Lou Reed, Mo Tucker, and Doug Yule went out as the Velvet Underground, I would totally see that and it’s not totally impossible they would (but there’s no way in hell Cale would be involved).

    • ya but did you see the 2002 hall of fame induction concert?

      turrible. bad. awful.
      byrne solo 4ever

  4. At the Drive-In. Oh, wait…

  5. The guys from Husker Du seem pretty set on maintaining their personal grudges again each other.

  6. I remember, before Led Zeppelin did that reunion show, Robert Plant publicly stated that a reunion would never happen because Jason Bonham was half the the drummer his father was. That must have made things pretty awkward.

    • I’m actually pretty happy that Plant is keeping the Zeppelin reunion from happening. Are people really clamoring to hear “Black Dog” played three keys lower so Plant can hit the notes?

      • It might sound really trippy…kind of like the new Beach House album on my non-45rpm-playing record player. “Moooooommmmeeeentaaaarrryyyy….bllliiiiiss….”

      • And Page, for all his Rock God brilliance of the past, is an incredibly sloppy guitar player at this point. He had some bad nights towards the end of Zeppelin, too. But any time I’ve seen him in recent years it kind of makes me cringe.

    • Well, it seems like the only thing Jason Bonham ever does is live off is dead father’s name, I don’t blame Plant for being bitter about it.

      • I don’t know, I think he’s tried pretty damn hard to do stuff on his own, too. From Bonham, way back in the day, to Black Country Communion, who are actually kind of “popular”. And if your dad was the only dead member of Led Zeppelin and you played the same instrument he did you’d probably want to walk in his shoes from time to time, too. Page and Plant both used to give a lot of shitty answers to questions about Zeppelin reunions – I’d bet that comment was from that time.

  7. I would have had the Talking Heads at #2 here…I think Spaceman 3 would be another good addition as well, but most people wouldn’t care about that I ‘spose…

  8. Frank Black disbands the Pixies by fax

    • While I’m not nominating them for this list, on the subject of bad break ups:
      Two of the original members of Destiny’s Child finding out they’ve been replaced by turning on MTV and seeing a video with two other girls lip-synching along to their parts. Cold!

  9. This only sort of loosely counts but I remember reading some quote El-P had about how there was no chance he’d ever helm the production of another Cannibal Ox album.

  10. What about OutKast?

  11. I’d have included the Eagles, if only for contrast. After the band broke up in 1980, Don Henley emphatically dismissed speculation about a reunion, insisting that they’d reunite “when hell freezes over.” Lo and behold, they reunited fourteen years later in 1994 and titled their reunion live album Hell Freezes Over.

    They’ve since gone on to tour like crazy and release a new record with four-fifths of The Long Run’s classic lineup (Don Felder was ousted in the early 2000s and didn’t appear on the Farewell I tour).

  12. I’ll add my “Best Quote About 90s Rapper Never Returning to His Alter Ego”: “Yo I’m never returning to my ‘Ice Ice’ shit, fuck that. Unless Adam Sandler’s wife requests me for one of his films”- Vanilla Ice

  13. Pink Floyd. Roger Waters and David Gilmour buttin’ heads for the rest of their lives.

  14. The Beach Boys! Oh.. Nevermind.

  15. Lyte Funky Ones (too soon?)

  16. Slash in his recent interview with Piers Morgan, when asked about Guns N Roses reuniting:

    “I was in a band?”

    • Slash has taken the high road on this for SO LONG. You’ve go to commend him for his… uhhh… patience. Even when Axl has straight up trashed him he keeps on keepin’ it positive. Now that the RRHOF thing is done I don’t really think he needs to think about it anymore. He’s in the RRHOF and he’ll always be a part of Appetite and Illusions.

  17. I don’t see Peter Hook ever playing in New Order again… but that’s not stopping Bernard and co. from moving on.

  18. I don’t really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It’s like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe—you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how—what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what’s stopping it, and what’s behind what’s stopping it? So, what’s the end, you know, is my question to you.

  19. Wow, no NWA? Most vitriolic break-up EVER.

    • Im pretty sure Easy E’s death would disqualify them from this list… though they did make up a little right before he died

      • Thought about that, but they did include Zeppelin on here and mentioned the death of John Bonham.

        • That’s true, so I gotta say you have a good point. But I think there’s some beef with some of the “other” guys, too. Basically, Dre and Cube became huge stars, Eazy is dead… who were the other guys? Kinda like that.

  20. Well, if GNR makes this list then the Replacements certainly could have. An epic drunken onstage brawl followed by a live-broadcast farewell concert where the band members were replaced by their roadies …

    And, if ever they do reunite, I will finally be at peace.

  21. I’d die happy if I saw Tweedy and Farrar play as Uncle Tupelo again.

    • I think that’s up there with The Smiths. I remember reading a few years back that Farrar tried calling Tweedy (I think it was after Joe Strummer died) and Tweedy answered with “You know what Jay? I’m not sure I ever want to talk to you again.”

    • hmm..maybe tweedy needs to do it.the wilco albums have become MOR ever since “sky blue sky”.”ghost is born” was a career peak.tweedy is too content in his personal life.theres no more conflict/depression/.mania.of course,i want him to be happy.but i want more classics albums!i’m selfish.

  22. Siouxsie & The Banshees

  23. Mclusky. Exhibit A: at 3:13 mark.

  24. A Tribe Called Quest? Thankfully, there isn’t a lot of vitriol there. Probably doesn’t deserve to be on the list, but I thought I’d put that out there.

    Phife’s answer:

  25. “David Byrne on Bob Costas put it pretty well, but I put it better: I still run the show. Don’t you forget it. Though I had to let some go, don’t think I don’t regret it. ‘Cause I do and I don’t think I’m better off alone. Man, we could have made a big sound, but I like to let my good friends down.” – David Bazan

  26. in every picture morressey is like “eerwwww. hmmmp.”

    eat them testies, you won’t.

  27. I would have put The Stone Roses on here as an aside. I never thought they would ever work with each other again, but there they are.

  28. The Minutemen! All we need is a voodoo priest and something that belonged to D Boon.

    One of my best concert experiences ever was getting lectured on the proper name for the Gibson EB-0 (I had called it the Gibson SG bass) from Mike Watt. That was the same show where I met J, Lou, and Murph from Dinosaur Jr. Lou and Murph were really nice, but J didn’t say much of anything.

  29. i met j mascis in akron, shook his hand, thanked him for the influence. he was shy, didnt say much more than “thanks, means a lot” , then he and his drum tech (with crash cymbal in hand) took off downtown in a tiny hatchback. watt always seemed like a real laid back knowledgeable guy to talk to, id love to catch a bass lecture from him. As Well i concur on the minutemen, i guess fIREHOSE will have to do.

  30. I’m not sure whether or not Sonic Youth would qualify for this list, but I’d sure as hell like to know what’s going on there. Soul Coughing would be a nice one to add just for the “oh HELL no” comedy (we’re more likely to see a Nirvana reunion than a Soul Coughing reunion). Pavement’s probably done for good. Juno, Chavez, Silkworm, XTC, the Postal Service, Slowdive, Jellyfish, and Belly would all be worth another look. Grant Lee Buffalo and the Dismemberment Plan have done small reunion tours; it’d be nice to see new material and bigger tours from both.

  31. you miss Nirvana and the Beatles ….. okay, nirvana has good reasons !!!!

  32. There’s also this, but I can see it not being one of the better quotes:

  33. The Police!

    Stuart Copeland hilariously hates the shit out of Sting. Apparently by the end he would set up his drum kit so the kick drum faced Sting so he could see where SC taped “Fuck You” onto it.

    Basically Sting is a super douche. Put down the lute asshole!

  34. The White Stripes. Ween. Underworld (w/ Emerson) The Orb (Paterson and Thrash). Clap your hands say yeah (the band before the hiatus). Fugazi. Tripping Daisy. Tool. Sleater Kinney. Sonic Youth. Isis. Dresden Dolls. Maybe not all top 10, but certainly all bands I want to see.

    • I think Preteen Zenith is the closest we’ll get to Tripping Daisy, and with Berggren gone, I kind of think it’s close enough. I do hope they’ll pull out some TD songs when PZ tours though. Tool toured earlier this year.

  35. Jawbreaker. Blake Schwarzenbach has repeatedly said no.

    “I have said this many times before: I physically don’t feel capable of doing it. I don’t think I could sing those songs and I think it would be a disservice to the memory of the band to try to do that. I don’t gloat about being in that position, either. It’s not like, “Oh, I get to take the moral high ground.” In fact, I’m sad about that.” If I felt I was in a good enough place, I think we could have a really fun and successful tour. We could also pay a lot of bills, which would be profoundly helpful. But it’s always the same story. Something is fucking broken in me so that when it’s like, ‘A lot of people want to hear you,’ I just think, ‘Well, I don’t want to do that.’”

  36. as far as england goes….the jam.weller said..”if my family was starving or in the gutter,then i’d reform the jam”…

  37. Indian Summer, Mohinder, Angel Hair, Antioch Arrow, Swing Kids, the VSS, Antarctica, cLOUDDEAD, Gastr Del Sol, The Nation of Ulysses AND/OR Cupid Car Club, Clickers, Night Rally, God is My Co-pilot, The Black Aux, Helium, The Blood Brothers, Portrait, Cave In (first line up), Long Hind Legs, Unwound, Atom and His Package (?), Bikini Kill, Huggy Bear, My Spine! Your Spine, Spiders, Forcefield, Hoover, Rodan, Crass, Jawbreaker, Life Sex and Death, Kicking Giant, The Hated, Karate, Born Against, Clipse, Mineral, Pink Floyd (w/Syd Barret) Black Dice (first line up performing early material), The Dead C, The Van Pelt, Prince (w/ The Revolution), and yeah I guess I’ve sort of gone off topic here. These aren’t so much acrimonious situations as reunions I’d just like to see. Sorry, this message is making me look like a jackass. I apologize to my fellow stereogum readers…

  38. oh shit also… Rorschach, Heroin, Anasarca, Chisel, Embrace, Rites of Spring, Inkwell, Lungfish, CLIKATAT IKATOWI

  39. OPERATION IVY- ” Before we sell out we’re gonna get the hell out”, Jesse Michaels, not the most eloquent one of these, but effective.

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