Sometimes it’s easy to forget, that underneath the carefully managed public exterior and behind the busy touring schedule, that bands are made up of real people. And real people tend to have a wide range of occasionally messy emotions. And sometimes, those messy, real-people emotions clash with others’. Here’s ten musicians who’ve engaged in public feuds with others.
The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones
Unlike the 90s rivalry of Oasis and Blur, the feud between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones was largely a marketing gambit. The two groups were visually very different: the clean-cut, suit-wearing Beatles versus the rebellious, ragamuffin Rolling Stones in what appeared to be, at least on the surface, a classic case of opposing opposites. The truth, however, is much friendlier: the two bands got along quite well, even collaborating together a few times. Lennon and McCartney wrote ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, which was one of the Stones early hits, while Mick Jagger lent his voice to the backing vocals of the Beatles smash hit ‘All You Need is Love’.
Paul McCartney vs. Michael Jackson
That’s not to say that the Beatles’ members never had any problems with any musicians. After the Beatles parted ways, its members followed their own paths. The early 1980s saw Paul McCartney teaming up with pop music’s heir apparent, Michael Jackson. The two released duets like 1982’s ‘The Girl is Mine’ and 1983’s ‘Say, Say, Say’, and friendship grew between the two. It was reportedly during this time that McCartney imparted to Jackson the financial wisdom of buying up publisher’s rights to songs. Good advice, but Jackson took it farther than McCartney would have liked when, in 1984, ATV’s song catalog (which included Beatles songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney) was put up for sale. Jackson bought the catalog, for an estimated $47.5 million in 1985. While McCartney was upset with his friend’s purchase, it didn’t get nasty until 1987, when Jackson let Nike use the Beatles song ‘Revolution’ in an ad, which the remaining Beatles went to court to try and stop. It was unsuccessful, and things got worse in the late 80s, when McCartney asked for a higher cut of the writer’s royalties and Jackson refused. There were rumors swirling shortly after Jackson’s death that he’d left the catalog- and the songs- to McCartney in his will, but they were unfortunately disproved, when the will was read. McCartney, however, has taken a patient approach, explaining that the rights will revert to him eventually, and apparently, he’s content to wait it out.
Oasis vs. Blur
Oasis and Blur were both ‘It’ bands on the nineties Britpop scene. And apparently, there wasn’t room for both of them at the top. At the first, the media was fueling the feud, encouraging music fans to pick a favorite to support. Then Blur frontman Damon Albarn did the musical equivalent of pouring gas on a fire: he moved the release date for his band’s new album, Country House, to August 14th 1995, which was the same day that Oasis’ new album, Roll With It, was due for release. This lead to a vicious sales competition, that Blue ended up winning by 50,000 singles, and the feud was on. It’s high point came when Oasis’ Noel Gallagher commenting that he hoped Blur members Damon Albarn and Alex James would “catch aids and die”. However, the feud’s ended as of March 23, 2013, when Gallagher and Albarn performing together, apparently amicably, at a Teenage Cancer Trust benefit concert.
Courtney Love vs. Dave Grohl
While they’ve both got respectable solo careers, the feud between Courtney Love and Dave Grohl was about Nirvana, the band that Love’s husband, Kurt Cobain had played in with Dave Grohl. The two had been at odds since Cobain’s death in 1994, mainly over his estate. In 2001, Love sued Grohl and fellow Nirvana member Krist Novoselic and to try and dissolve the limited liability company that was established to manage Nirvanan’s finances and copyright. Grohl countersued, and the feud took off from there. Love insisted that Grohl and the band took advantage of her grief, while they pointed out that they had no obligation to make her an equal partner as they did. The two also disagreed on Cobain’s legacy, with Grohl claiming that some of Love’s interviews about her late husband contained glaring inaccuracies, while Love stated Kurt was on the cusp of breaking up the band. But the two reconciled at this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions, where they hugged, and Love later tweeted on the subject, with the hashtag ‘#hatchetburied’.
Gene Simmons vs. Carlos Santana
It took KISS frontman Gene Simmons a while to get invested in an argument with guitar great Carlos Santana. The first shot was fired in 2005, by Santana, who decried KISS as “Las Vegas entertainment”. At first, Simmon’s shrugged it off, with a flippant remark about not everyone liking the same sorts of music. However, in 2009, he fired back, taking aim at Santana’s onstage performances- namely his perceived lack of showmanship. As far as we can tell, there’s no end in sight to this feud, but hopefully they’ll reconcile. Or at least, not mention each other.
Trent Reznor vs. Marilyn Manson
Trent Reznor‘s the industrial metal powerhouse behind Nine Inch Nails, while Marilyn Manson‘s become a major industry name for shock rock. The two were amicable at first, with Reznor producing Manson’s album, Antichrist Superstar. The clash began when Manson left Reznor’s record label, Nothing Records for Interscope records. But things seemed to blow over quickly, with Manson appearing in the 1999 music video for Nine Inch Nails’ song ‘Starf**kers, Inc’. But in 2009, Reznor decried Manson as a “dopey clown” who’d become a self-serving addict. Alongside the harsh words, though, Reznor also stated that he hoped Manson would get himself back on track. Not sure that makes it any better, in terms of future reconciliation, but here’s hoping they make up.
Sinead O’Connor vs. Miley Cyrus
This feud got nastier than expected faster than expected. After Miley Cyrus released her ‘Wrecking Ball’ music video, O’Connor released an open letter to Cyrus, entreating her to respect her body and not let herself be ‘prostituted’ by the industry, as well as to be a better role model for her younger fans. Cyrus fired back via twitter, posting a series of O’Connor’s old tweets with the caption ‘Before Amanda Bynes… There was….’. O’Connor wrote another letter, in which she promptly took the popstar to task. She explained that the tweets had been made when she was suffering from untreated bipolar disorder, and made it clear that Cyrus’ legal team would soon be hearing from her lawyers. Cyrus’ response? She snarkily pointed out that she was too busy to have time to write an open letter. O’Connor wrote a third letter (equally open) where she took Cyrus to task for dragging Amanda Bynes into the feud, as well as for her insensitivity towards those suffering with mental health problems. This feud’s been quiet for now, but Cyrus didn’t issue the requested public apology, so it looks like it’s still simmering.
Mariah Carey vs. Nikki Minaj
Carey and Minaj met while judging season twelve of American Idol, and as far as we can tell, it was hate at first sight. While they dismissed rumors of trouble between them at first, video soon surfaced of Minaj storming off set after an argument with Carey, who later implied that working with Minaj was like working with Satan. The feud’s still going strong, too. In a February interview with New York’s Power 105.1, Carey laughingly pretended she had no idea who Minaj was, claiming she was going to delete the entire Idol season from her memory. Meanwhile, the music video for Minaj’s latest song (released the same day as Carey’s interview), showed her destroying her haters, so it’s pretty clear they’re nowhere near ready to reconcile.
Here is a video on Ellen Degeneres weighing in on the American Idol feud between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey
Arcade Fire vs. The Flaming Lips
This is the battle of the indie bands right here. Both Arcade Fire and The Flaming Lips are huge, well-respected and beloved indie-rock acts. But the two briefly turned against each other in 2009, when Wayne Coyne, the Flaming Lips’ frontman called Arcade Fire pricks. The inciting incident? Apparently Coyne saw Arcade Fire mistreating their road crew, as well as the audience in their performances. Win Butler, Arcade Fire’s frontman shot back, pointing out that no one in the Flaming Lips actually knew anyone in Arcade Fire. Eventually, Coyne apologized, and even admitted to liking their music, ending the feud.
Tupac vs. Notorious B.I.G.
Perhaps the most famous of the east coast-west coast rap feuds, the feud between the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur started in 1994. They’d both released their first albums, Tupac’s Me Against the World and Biggie’s Ready to Die, to critical acclaim. Then, on November 30th, the recording studio Shakur was entering was held up by gunmen and he was shot. Shakur accused B.I.G. of facilitating both the robbery and the shooting, claims which he denied, and the feud took off from there. It mainly took a verbal form, like in Shakur’s 1995 song Hit ‘Em Up where he claims to have had sex with the Notorious B.I.G.’s wife. The feud was cut tragically short, however, by Shakur’s death in a drive-by shooting in 1996, and B.I.G’s death only a year later.