Rock and Roll is loud, emotional, volatile, and sometimes, bigger than big and badder than bad. In order to find yourself centre stage with a microphone or wailing on a guitar with millions of adoring fans you need to have that rock star quality or you’ll just blend into the background. There is a reason why people know specific band members and don’t remember others, whether it’s intense guitar virtuoso talents, sick dance moves, or a larger than life persona that oozes out both on stage and gets captured by paparazzi.
While some rockers like Bono decide to use their power and influence to make the world better and support meaningful philanthropic endeavours, others use their money and power to embrace the clichéd rock and roll fuelled lifestyle. In a world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll there are big egos, big personalities, and often, even bigger tempers. Sometimes it’s infighting within the band, and their “vision” for their music; other times it’s too much time spent on the road together, or spending the band money on items that other members feel are unnecessary and overly extravagant. Other times it’s jealousy over one member getting more media or fan attention than others. Then there are the feuds that go beyond infighting, and external fights with the competition over perceived or intentional slights. Sometimes the feud is a slow burning fire, whereas other times it erupts into social media slander or even fisticuffs. These fights tend to get a lot of attention, especially since they involve a number of celebrities and can border on downright ridiculous, so put up your dukes, it’s time for a fight, rock n’ roll style!
15. Fleetwood Mac vs. Fleetwood Mac
Is it surprising that a band whose arguably most brilliant albums, Rumours, is about breakups has had more than their fair share of infighting? Partner swapping with many members hooking up with each other at one time or another, egos over who was really running the group, and a few fistfuls of cocaine were likely to blame for “The Chain” of fights over the years. Stevie Nicks was romantically involved with both Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood, apparently in short succession, while John McVie and Christine McVie were going through a rough divorce. It seems that everyone involved was able to grow up and move on eventually working through their issues. The band eventually got back together and continue to tour together today.
14. The Police
Just because you don’t have a big band doesn’t mean that you can’t have some pretty epic fights. The Police are a trio that just can’t get along. The group dynamic involved singer Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland who were both constantly duking it out over fame and ego, with odd man out Andy Summers quietly watching in the wings. Sting wanted to run the band as if it was his, while Copeland wanted a prominent say in the band and its direction. Their fights were constant, reportedly childish and sometimes got physical until they eventually disbanded in 1984. During their more recent reunion tours, during which they reportedly continued to fight like cats and dogs, Sting told Rolling Stone of the band: “It’s not a democracy, it’s an ego-cracy.” While they seem to have gotten beyond their young man misgivings Summers told the publication, “It’s like living with a keg of dynamite – the fuse is always burning.”
13. Simon & Garfunkel
When there’s just two of you in the band you’d like to think that you’d have each other’s backs, but unfortunately this was not the case for Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. Things got so tense towards the end of their time together that they couldn’t even agree on what track to use for the song “Bridge over Troubled Water” and neither was willing to compromise. Apparently a reunion album was in the works in the 1980s but instead Simon trashed Garfunkel’s singing and released the album solo. When Paul Simon was inducted as a solo artist into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 he read a 10-minute thank you speech where he mentioned Garfunkel, saying “I regret the ending of our friendship, and I hope that one day before we die we will make peace with each other,” then after a pointed comedic pause while the crowd applauded added, “no rush”.
12. The Gallagher Brothers (Oasis)
The Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, are almost better known for how much they hate each other than they are for their music. They would fight over who was more famous, songwriting, and pretty much anything immature they deemed worthy of scrapping about for years. The fights were verbal, the fights were emotional, and often they were also physical. The final blowout happened in 2009 at a festival show when Liam decided to destroy Noel’s guitar backstage. When neither brother took the stage Noel decided to permanently quit working with his brother. The two haven’t been in contact since. Liam told The Guardian about his brother, “That’s the thing that makes me want to throw up. I just look at him now and think, “You’re a f*#*ing fake.”
11. The Everly Brothers
Before Liam and Noel there was Don and Phil Everly, the pioneer battling brothers of rock and roll. Things hit an all-time low in 1973 when during a performance, in the middle of the song “Cathy’s Clown,” Phil chucked his guitar on the ground and tore off the stage. At that point Don announced to the dumbfounded audience that the band was history. A decade later they reunited and played together once again. One of the more admirable things about these duelling brothers was that for the most part they managed to keep their squabbles private and out of the papers. It has been said that the duo hadn’t seen each other in around three years when they first played together again, meeting up in the parking lot before the first show in the tour. After the reunion tour the brothers separated once again. If it was due to an argument we may never know thanks to the tight lips policy they seemed to employ. Phil Everly passed away in 2014 while Don is still alive, despite some recent internet death hoax that says otherwise.
10. David Bowie vs. Elton John
In the days following David Bowie’s death Elton John opened up about a 40-year feud between the two iconic rockers. Sir Elton John admits that at one time the two were close and would hang out together alongside Marc Bolan, often going to gay clubs, but ended up drifting apart over the years. In 1976 Bowie was quoted in an interview as calling Elton John “the Liberace, the token queen of rock.” Apparently they were no longer buddies. After learning of Bowie’s passing Elton John has said, “I wasn’t his cup of tea. But the dignified way he handled his death, I mean, thank God,” and also has said, “Everyone else take note of this: Bowie couldn’t have staged a better death. It was classy.” It’s too bad they couldn’t make up sooner.
9. Tommy Lee vs. Kid Rock
Fighting over a lady is truly a tale older than even the deepest roots of rock and roll. Both Tommy Lee and Kid Rock were romantically connected to the buxom Barb Wire blonde Pamela Anderson, even though they were both ex-husbands at the times of their most heated altercations. In 2007 at the Video Music Awards, Lee claims he was minding his own business, enjoying Alicia Keys when he received a tap on his shoulder from the other Ex-Mr. Anderson, Kid Rock. Lee says that he stood up to give Rock a hug and ended up with a punch in the face instead. Lee was held back from reciprocating the cold-cock punch to Rock, who he routinely calls “Kid Pebble.” In talking about the fight Rock has said, “This was unavoidable. I had to do what I had to do because this was a long time coming. You know, I came back from the bathroom and he was sitting right there. It was even more disrespectful after everything he’s said, I was like that’s enough, that’s it.”
8. Metallica vs. Dave Mustaine
It’s been said that Metallica is an emotional and eruptive band that likes a good fight whether it’s internal or with other rockers like Motley Crue. One of their biggest feuds to date involves former band member Dave Mustaine, who had been fired from the band because of his alcoholism, drug addiction, and other personality conflicts with members. Being fired for alcohol and drug abuse by a band that had given itself the nickname Alcoholica did not sit well with Mustaine who took every chance he had to take jabs at his former bandmates, especially when riding his own fame as the lead in the wildly successful metal band Megadeath.
7. Red Hot Chili Peppers vs. Faith No More
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a distinct style and sound, one that they are very proud to call their own. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis decided that he felt that Faith No More’s video for their most prominent hit “Epic” was shockingly similar to the aesthetic and feel of what The Red Hot Chili Peppers had been producing, and wanted to call them out on it, specifically the band’s lead singer Mike Patton. Kiedis publicly vowed that his band would never play alongside Faith No More. Mike Patton had a response of his own. He had his other musical project, Mr. Bungle, dress up as The Red Hot Chili Peppers to mock them in a parody at a show. Perhaps they took it a little too far when they had one band member dress up as a ghost to represent former Chili Pepper Hillel Slovak who passed away in 1988 from a heroin overdose.
6. The Black Crowes
It was a long time coming, but in 2015 The Black Crowes lead singer Chris Robinson confirmed that it was too “Hard to Handle” and the band was no more. In January 2015 Chris’s bandmate and brother Rich made an official statement saying that the band was falling apart because of unreasonable financial demands made by Chris. Rich said, “I love my brother and respect his talent, but his present demand that I must give up my equal share of the band and that our drummer for 28 years and original partner, Steve Gorman, relinquish 100 percent of his share, reducing him to a salaried employee, is not something I could agree to.” Chris Robinson has admitted that things between he and his brother have always been strained saying, “We’ve never had much of a relationship” despite being bandmates for over 20 years. Chris has also said that it was the commitment of being in a successful band that kept them bound for such a long time, not that they were family. Ouch!
5. Blink-182 vs. Tom DeLonge
There has been an ongoing “war of words” and conflicting stories between DeLonge and his former bandmates for some time now. After other founding members Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus released a statement explaining that DeLonge had left the band, DeLonge countered on Instagram stating, “To all the fans, I never quit the band. I actually was on a phone call about a Blink-182 event for New York City at the time all these weird press releases started coming in … Apparently those releases were ‘sanctioned’ from the band. Are we dysfunctional – yes. But, Christ …” Barker and Hoppus reiterated that DeLonge leaving the group began when he was putting off both recording of their new album and touring. A week before they were finally scheduled to record Hoppus and Barker received an email from DeLonge’s manager stating that he was no longer interested (indefinitely) in any work with Blink-182 and wanted to focus on other, non-musical projects. In the time that has passed Blink-182 has begun working and touring with Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio in place of Tom. Tom has been very active on social media talking about his interaction and involvement with outer space, and often adamant that he was not fired from Blink, sometimes wishing his former bandmates well and other times being very critical of their work.
4. Courtney Love vs. Nirvana (Dave Grohl)
Many 90s grunge-loving fans could claim that Nirvana had their own Yoko Ono, only her name was Courtney, and she is bigger, blonder, and much much louder. The band had battled Love for years over rights to Nirvana’s catalogue, and the feud doesn’t stop there: in 2012 Love accused former Nirvana drummer and rock and roll’s sweetheart Dave Grohl of seducing her then 19-year-old daughter Frances Bean Cobain. Grohl responded to the accusation by saying, “Unfortunately Courtney is on another hateful Twitter rant. These new accusations are upsetting, offensive and absolutely untrue.” Courtney has also accused Grohl of being “sexually obsessed” with her deceased husband. Weird, but nothing is surprising when it comes from Courtney.
3. Johnny Rotten vs. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
There aren’t too many people who would turn down an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but then not too many of them are frontman of The Sex Pistols, and aptly named, Johnny Rotten. Rotten penned an infamous note that was highly critical of the fee requested by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in order to attend the awards ceremony. In his note Rotten said, “Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain,” he also added “We’re not your monkeys, we’re not coming. You’re not paying attention.” Think what you will about turning up your nose at an induction into the hall, his angry letter was perfectly punk rock.
2. Slash vs. Axl
It seems that Axl often has a bone to pick with just about everyone, whether it’s fighting for the removal of unflattering “fat” images of him on the internet or fighting with his band, or anyone else in rock and roll who’s willing to “get in the ring.” The final straw in a series of offences between Axl and Slash (including one in the early days when Axl even went as far as calling Slash’s grandmother some nasty names while he was crashing on her sofa) was when Axl replaced Slash’s guitar tracks on the song the band had on The Interview with a Vampire soundtrack with someone else’s, Slash had enough and quit. Later when Axl found out about Slash, Duff and Matt forming Velvet Revolver he called Duff spineless and insisted that singer Scott Weiland was a fraud. In 2009, during an interview Axl said of Slash, “Personally I consider Slash a cancer and better removed, avoided — and the less anyone heard of him or his supporters, the better.” They have since, kissed, made up, reunited, and are in the middle of a reunion tour, let’s hope that Axl can play nice.
1. Paul McCartney vs. Michael Jackson
Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson were close friends. They recorded two famous duets together: “The Girl is Mine” and “Say Say Say.” In 1985, at the peak of their friendship, Paul shared more than musical acumen with the King of Pop, he provided Jackson with some sage investing advice: the financial benefit of buying the publishing rights to hit songs. Apparently Jackson took this suggestion very seriously when he purchased the company that owned the majority of The Beatles songs, outbidding McCartney. The peace-loving Beatles Brit calmly said of Jackson’s new investment, “I think it’s dodgy to do things like that, to be someone’s friend and then buy the rug they’re standing on.” McCartney and Jackson never worked with each other again.