So often we hear about some of our favorite bands calling it quits, and most of the time it’s usually due to creative differences, substance abuse, in-band romances gone sour or even legal issues. Through the years, many bands have gone their separate ways and did so in a respectable manner, but that isn’t always the case. Often a group will split resulting in a bitter breakup, and soon after we learn about all of the gory details through the media, and of course we soak all of this new found information up because we die hard fans need to know all of the drama that led to the demise of our favorite band.
Despite making great music together, musicians can’t stay together forever. Tensions flare, personalities clash and eventually it creates a wedge between all parties involved. The bands listed below all had nasty breakups, but some of them eventually put their differences aside, resulting in long anticipated reunions for their fans. However, there are some groups that just couldn’t look past their issues and a reconciliation never happened, or at least it hasn’t yet…
Here is our list of the 10 ugliest band breakups of all time.
10. The Smashing Pumpkins
The creation of the band’s second album, Siamese Dream, was the start of the band’s troubles. The creative process of the album was plagued by a number of factors. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin had a severe heroin addiction, Billy Corgan was suffering from a nervous breakdown, and bassist D’arcy Wretzky and guitarist James Iha ended their relationship, but in spite of all of the chaos they remained together until 1996 when Chamberlin overdosed and was kicked out of band. A few years later, D’arcy left the band, and when asked about her departure, Corgan stated: “She was fired for being a mean spirited drug addict who refused to get help.” In 2000 the remaining band members went their separate ways.
9. The Verve
It’s hard to believe that The Verve was once known as one of the tightest knit bands, especially considering they broke up a total of three times over a span of 13 years. Within those 13 years, they experienced bitter feuds, substance abuse, and faced a number of different lawsuits. The Verve’s second breakup came after their biggest hit in 1998, “Bittersweet Symphony,” when they lost all of their royalties after being sued over a Rolling Stones sample which was featured in the song. In 2009, it was speculated that they had split for a third time. Band members Simon Jones and Nick McCabe were no longer on talking terms with lead singer Richard Ashcroft because they felt he was using the band as a prop to start his solo career. When Ashcroft was asked about the third break up, he said: “I can confirm we did what we set out to do, right now there are no plans to do anything in the near future.”
8. Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath is one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time, but by 1979 they were barely talking to each other and things soon started to unravel for them. Their performances started to suffer because of the excessive drug and alcohol abuse within the band.
Years after they split a sober Ozzy Osbourne, when asked about the demise of the band said:
“What happened with me and Black Sabbath was that, in the beginning, we all had a purpose, but as we went along that inevitable thing stepped in called ego…The fact is that success does change you. It affected ME. I was full of cocaine. That stuff makes you talk the biggest load of horse crap. There shouldn’t be a problem left in the world, ’cause we solved them all in the bathroom of a hotel with a bag of that white powder.”
7. Guns N’ Roses
Even though Guns ‘N Roses never officially broke up, the departure of Slash for many people qualified as a major split. Both the recording of the “Sympathy for the Devil” cover from the Interview with the Vampire soundtrack in December 1994 and guitarist Paul Huge’s contribution to the cover sent Slash over the edge and he ended up officially quitting GnR just two years later. Slash has said in regards to the whole fiasco that the track represents: “The sound of the band breaking up.”
Meanwhile, Axl Rose has kept on using the band’s name, even though he is the only original member still involved. Rose went on to record the grandiose album Chinese Democracy between 1999 and 2008 which was released to mixed reviews.
6. The Mamas & The Papas
The Mamas & The Papas encountered a few problems through their years together that eventually led to the demise of the band. A dispute between Mamma Cass Elliot and John Phillips erupted while at a party in October 1967 when Phillips insulted her in front of her idol, Mick Jagger. Devastated, she quit the band that night, but unfortunately for her she was legally bound to appear on their next album, The Papas & the Mamas. Another issue within the band was the marriage of John and Michelle Phillips which became severely damaged due to Michelle’s affair with bandmate Denny Doherty, playing a major role in the bands break up in 1968.
5. The Eagles
Judging by the history of The Eagles, the band did live up to their 1976 song “Life in The Fast Lane”, encountering everything from drugs to fights to girls. The biggest known fight within the band was between Don Felder and Glen Fry in 1980 at a benefit concert in Long Beach, California. The night consisted of outrageous tantrums, with Frey breaking a bottle against the dressing room wall, and Felder smashing his guitar before he eventually stormed off. Despite the onstage threats to each other they finished the concert, but at one point Frey was caught on tape whispering that he was going to kill Felder. After that night they didn’t play together for another 14 years. Don Henley once said that the only way they would reunite would be “when hell freezes over,” which fittingly was the name of their comeback tour in ’94.
4. Rage Against The Machine
During the 2000 VMA’s, Limp Bizkit took the award for Best Rock Video. However, Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford was not thrilled with their win and began climbing the stage in protest. Although he and some audience members seemed amused with his gymnastic skills, his fellow band members weren’t impressed, and frontman Zack de la Rocha quit the band the following month. In a statement, he wrote:
“I feel that it is now necessary to leave Rage because our decision-making process has completely failed…It is no longer meeting the aspirations of all four of us collectively as a band, and from my perspective, has undermined our artistic and political ideal.”
3. The Sex Pistols
For years leading up to the split of the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten had become fed up of being around Sid Vicious and his awful drug addiction, which was a source of Vicious’s unpredictable and at times violent behavior. Rotten even went as far as calling Vicious a “waste of space.” The Sex Pistols broke up while on tour in California back in 1978, when Rotten decided to leave the band. It’s obvious that the rest of the band didn’t deal with his abrupt departure well, considering that they abandoned him in Los Angeles with no plane ticket or money to return home to England.
2. The Violent Femmes
Despite the band’s brief break in the mid ’80s, the band remained active for close to three decades. They ended up calling it quits in 2009 due to a squabble between lead singer and songwriter Gordon Gano and bassist Brian Ritchie over Gano’s decision to license their biggest hit, “Blister in the Sun,” to the Wendy’s fast-food chain without the approval of the rest of the band. In a statement after the commercial’s release, Ritchie stated:
“You can thank the greed, insensitivity and poor taste of Gordon Gano, it is his karma that he lost his songwriting ability many years ago, probably due to his own lack of self-respect as his willingness to prostitute our songs demonstrates.”
The band has been active again since 2013.
1. Creedence Clearwater Revival
CCR were together from 1967 to 1972, but things started falling apart in the early ’70s for the band when John Fogerty started to dictate their artistic direction, which bothered the rest of the band. Between the tension among them and a bad record contract, they eventually went their separate ways. The contract plagued John Fogerty even after the breakup as he still owed Fantasy Records eight albums. However, he eventually stopped recording until his contract was finally purchased 12 years later.
In 2011 the singer stated he’d be open to a reunion, but CCR bassist Stu Cook doubts that will ever happen. He said in an interview: “Leopards don’t change their spots. This is just an image-polishing exercise by John. My phone certainly hasn’t rung.”