In the world of rock ‘n roll, with drugs, egoes, fast-paced lifestyles, and creative choices to be made around-the-clock, it’s understandable that things might not always work out.
And sometimes, those falling outs happen in a much more disastrous fashion. This may include, but not limited to, mudslinging in the media; lawsuits over usage rights and royalties; and members getting kicked out.
Here are 10 of the most dramatic band break-ups in rock and roll history.
Lawsuits. Public digs. Diss tracks. The Beatles covered it all.
When Paul McCartney annoucned he was leaving the group in 1970, supposedly John Lennon had already done so privately. McCartney filed a lawsuit against Ringo, George and John in London’s High Court of Justice to dissolve the band’s contract. When their solo careers launched, McCartney’s “Too Many People” and Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep” were seemingly about the bad blood. were cutting tracks produced after the incidents with both sharing all their frustration.
The band wouldn’t collaborate as a quarter again, with Lennon’s assassination happening ten years after the break-up. The remaining three members did collaborate on the Anthology project in 1994, using Lennon vocal outtakes to complete old demos.
The Allman Brothers Band
When guitarist Dickey Betts was kicked out by Gregg Allman in 2000, it felt like things were coming to a halt. The incident came after a concert when Dickey supposedly got really drunk. “It was a total trainwreck,” said Allman, “and just embarrassing to the rest of us”. The Allman Brothers found a replacement, but with an official retired in 2014, Betts is likely to never return to the group.
Soaring over the competition in 1980, the Eagles were set to become one of the biggest bands of all-time. But not all was well behind-the-scenes: Don Henley and Glenn Frey each had their own vision for the band, which caused a lot of internal strife. Members Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner had already quit. Joe Walsh battled with substance abuse, and Don Felder also felt uncomfortable with his role in the group.
At a 1980 benefit show for Senator Alan Cranston, Felder made it clear he didn’t want any political involvement. When Cranston’s wife came backstage to meet the band, he said: “Nice to meet you . . . I guess.”
This resulted in the Eagles threatening each other on-stage during the performance, with Glenn Frey saying: “That’s three more, pal.” No fight broke out, but that didn’t stop the group from taking a 14-year break.
An attempt to reunite the band in 1999 proved disastrous. Dennis DeYoung was diagnosed with a viral illness, and when he requested to delay tour dates, the rest of the band voted to kick him out of the group. The clash resulted in a lawsuit over who could tour under the name Styx or under “performing the music of Styx.”
DeYoung said he was open to a reunion, but Shaw? Not so much.
Johnny Marr and Morrissey had very different visions for The Smiths. He took a break for exhaustion in 1987, and then quit the band when an NME article titled “The Smiths To Split” came out, with Morrissey having no involvement in the piece.
Even twenty years after this bitter period, Morrissey has said that he “would rather eat his own testicles than reform The Smiths.” Safe to say, a reunion will never happen.
Guns N’ Roses
After GnR hit it big with Appetite for Destruction in 1987, drummer Steven Adler was kicked out because of his drug addiction only three years later. Axl Rose then started to show up to shows extra late. Slash and Duff McKagan stated that Axl once refused to go onstage until he got the right to use the band’s name, a scenario that Axl denies ever happens.
Axl once called Slash a “cancer”, and didn’t attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction as to not run into them. Of course, the band would tour the world once again in 2016, but things weren’t always glorious.
David Lee Roth left Van Halen in 1985 after countless rifts over his dedication to the band, with bandmates upset he focused too much on a film career. Supposedly, the Van Hlaen brothers were also done with his guest appearances and substance abuse issues. He was replaced by Sammy Hagar, who quit in 1996 after many arguments. Two different singers, two incredibly difficult working relationships.
Billie Corgan’s insistence on playing the majority of guitar and bass on the Smashing Pumpkin’s Siamese Dream was the catalyst to the band’s falling apart. Bassist D’arcy Wretzke and guitarist James Iha Few stuck it out, but when touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin died of a heroin overdose in 1996, while drummer Jimmy Chamberlin overdosed the same night, things only got worse. Chamberlin and was kicked out. He ws brought back in. Then D’arcy left. Then the band broke up.
“The truth of the matter is that guitarist James Iha broke up the Smashing Pumpkins,” Corgan wrote online. “Not me, not drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, but James. Did it help that bassist D’arcy Wretzky was fired for being a mean-spirited drug addict, who refused to get help? No, that didn’t help keep the band together, not at all.” Yikes.
It’s hard to think of Oasis without thinking of the inner band turmoil. The constant fighting of the two Gallagher brothers, a lot of the times in the media, proved to be an entertaining back-and-forth for years.
Although the mudslinging was constant, things cooled down in the mid-2000s. But in August 2009, Noel and Liam Gallagher physically fought on-stage at a Paris concert. Supposedly, Liam smashed one of Noel’s guitars backstage, and Noel released a statement saying he quit the band. Supposedly, they haven’t spoken since… but the name-calling still happens constantly on social media and in interviews.
Not that things were ever smooth in Fleetwood Mac, but when things came to a head in the mid-1990s, with constantly changing line-ups, marriage issues within the group. The band has come together multiple times, kicked members out for stints, with the only constant being Mick Fleetwood.
Let the magic live on after breakups with titles in the MusicVaultz store: