Biggest Feuds in Music History
Ask any musician and they will tell you being in band is like being in a marriage with four (or three or five, etc.) people. Just like a marriage, you must learn to get along and to compromise, and of course, it doesn’t always work out that way.
When you are in a local band, or a marriage, most people won’t know about your fights. But when you take it to a national level, i.e., a famous band or a successful marriage, everyone’s going to hear about it.
In fact, there have been many feuds that have been the talk of the town for years. And they are not only between bandmates. They can be between a musician and someone they work with such as a manager, or it can be between two musicians that seemingly have little to do with one another.
This article will discuss the biggest feuds in music history, so you can get the inside scoop.
Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart
You may think it’s convenient to be in a band with your siblings. But blood runs thicker than water, and not always in a good way.
There are several things that may have contributed to the falling out of Ann and Nancy Wilson. The first was a case of assault involving Ann’s husband Dean Welter who was arrested for violent acts towards Nancy’s twins who were 16 at the time. Walter pled guilty to lesser assault charges to avoid jail time.
Next came a tour offer that was turned down. Apparently, Ann wanted to take a new crew of guys on the road that Nancy wasn’t comfortable with. So that never saw the light of day.
Recent reports reveal that Nancy wants to make Heart more of a tribute act while Anne wants to write new material.
In any event, the two maintain that they have a good relationship but are just having professional disagreements. Meanwhile, Nancy has been taking her version of Heart on the road with a new singer, Kimberly Nichole who was a finalist on season 8 of The Voice. Ann continues to work on her solo project.
Lennon and McCartney
Paul McCartney and John Lennon were the golden boys of rock n’ roll. Their sweet and somewhat innocent attitude made few want to acknowledge what lurked underneath. But unfortunately, there were issues that eventually led to the band’s demise.
There seems to be no one reason why the four decided to split. They stopped touring in 1966 due to exhaustion and the overpowering roaring of their fans.
Then Brian Epstein, their manager who help manage their money, past away, Lennon decided to bring his in-laws to handle their financials which bred a lot of mistrust.
Many people say Yoko Ono broke up The Beatles. And while she may have given John the strength to leave (yes, he was the first to leave the band), she was likely more a sign of the inevitable.
After the two parted ways, they went on to say disparaging things about each other. Truthfully, John was mostly responsible as he cut down his former partner both via the media and in song lyrics.
Paul fought back in one song but was mostly hurt and confused by Lennon’s actions.
Fortunately, the two made peace before John’s death and had a few good years together. Paul continues to feel the loss of his dear friend.
Kanye West and … Everyone
Kanye West is known for having arguments with just about everyone. Here are a few he has had over the last few years.
Trevor Noah: The Daily Show host caused Kanye’s blood pressure to elevate when he questioned posts the musician had made concerning his former wife, Kim Kardashian, and her new boyfriend Pete Davidson. Kanye responded with an unlikely racial slur. Fortunately, Noah took the high road by posting a statement that expressed concern for West and a hope that he would get help for his mental illness.
Taylor Swift: Kanye’s feud with Taylor Swift is among the most famous. West walked up to the singer while she was accepting a Grammy insisting that Beyonce should have won instead. Although the two were reported to have buried the hatchet, the grudge was renewed when Kanye sang about her in his song ‘Famous’ with the lyrics, “I made that bitch famous.”
Kim Kardashian: It’s no secret that Kanye has been feuding with his ex-wife Kim ever since the two split, and probably well before. He often claims that Kim keeps their daughters from him even though, according to her, he has complete access to them. The feud has spilled over to Kim’s new squeeze, Pete Davidson. West posts pictures of the actor/comedian getting beaten up and even getting decapitated.
Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis
Nancy and Ann Wilson aren’t the only siblings in a band to take shots at each other. Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis are known for their rocky relationship.
The first incident on public record occurred at the famous Whisky A Go Go. Reportedly, Liam was intoxicated and started insulting the band and threw a tambourine at his brother. He stalked off not to be heard from for several days.
That was followed by a series of incidents including the following:
- A particularly bad argument between the brothers being recorded and released on the label Fierce Panda in vinyl form.
- Noel hitting Liam with a cricket bat because Liam disturbed him by bringing a group of people to the studio when Noel was trying to record.
- Liam pulling out of an MTV Unplugged show due to a sore throat. Noel played without him as Liam heckled him from the audience.
- Liam pulling out of a U.S. tour at the last minute but rejoining 3 days later. That tour was ultimately cancelled after 2 weeks.
- Liam leaving the band a second time after a drunken argument in which he questioned the legitimacy of Noel’s daughter.
- The Heathen Chemistry tour which had its share of disasters and ultimately ended in a pub brawl where Liam kicked a police officer and lost a few teeth. Dates were cancelled due to dental visits.
We could go on but you get the picture. Although there is talk of a reunion, the brothers continue to brawl to this day.
David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen
David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen’s feud was visible a mile away. The Van Halen brothers were not a fan of Roth’s personality from the start. But they enjoyed his showmanship.
The group managed to keep it together for years, but Roth did not like the direction they were going in when they used synthesizers on the album 1984. In fact, they had Michael McDonald come in and write the lyrics to the song ‘I’ll Wait’ because Roth insisted he couldn’t make lyrics work over the synthesized music.
The band reunited for the album ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ in 2012 but their relationship never really improved.
Eddie passed away with the two continuing to be distant with one another. Roth waited a while before releasing a comment on the guitarist’s death which didn’t say much either way on the relationship.
“My guitar player passed away, Eddie Van Halen. He’s in heaven raisin’ hell. Or he’s in hell consequently in heaven,” the singer said.
Don Felder vs. Don Henley and Glenn Frey of The Eagles
The Eagles were a band fraught with controversy. This mainly stemmed from guitarist Don Felder claiming singer/drummer Don Henley and singer/guitarist Glenn Frey were tyrants who wanted legal and financial control of the band.
They also apparently did not want Felder singing. They accepted that he was a good guitarist but did not like his singing style which served to fuel the fire.
Things finally came to a head when the band had a huge fight after a concert. Things got so heated that Frey threatened to kill Felder. This caused the band to break up swearing they would never tour again.
They were often quoted as saying they would not get together unless hell froze over, so when they decided to go out on the road again in 1994, they called the tour, “Hell Freezes Over”.
Unfortunately, the reunion was short-lived, and Felder was finally fired from the band in 2001. This was far from the end of the story.
Felder took revenge by suing the band for wrongful termination and by writing a book called ‘Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles’, wherein he described Frey and Henley as money hungry dictators and tyrants. Henley tried to stop the book from being published, but he was only successful in delaying its premier date.
A documentary of the band was released in which Henley reportedly downplayed the tensions in the band saying, “We’re a lot like brothers. We fight but we’re still a family.”
Unfortunately, the three were unable to mend their relationship before 2016, the year when Glenn Frey died of rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia.
Slash and Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses
Guns N’ Roses are one of the most successful bands in rock n’ roll history, but the band fell apart due to more than just creative differences.
Things may have already been going downhill internally when drummer Steve Adler and rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin parted ways with the band. But when Slash left, it was the ultimate death knell, at least at the time.
Fans may not have been shocked by Slash’s departure as there were already rumors swirling about Rose’s unreliable behavior. But apparently, the ultimate reason for the split came about when Slash decided to work with Michael Jackson on the track ‘Dirty Diana’.
People were beginning to talk about Jackson’s history as a child molester. Even though these claims were unproven, they were enough to turn off Rose who stated he was abused as a child.
The singer alleged that he was abused by his father, stepfather and half siblings and had also witnessed his stepfather abusing his mother. He had apparently been attending regressive therapy sessions that made these memories come back powerfully at the time of the collaboration.
However, Slash says it was more than just the Jackson matter that pulled the two apart. They had recently released “The Spaghetti Incident” which flopped. Slash felt this was due to Axl wanting to take over creative control of the band.
Fortunately, the feud is now behind both musicians. Axl reached out to Slash and Slash was happy to put the bad blood behind them. The went on to release some new songs and have told the press they will continue to do so.
Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls
Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls could have been the best of friends. They were both talented hip hop rappers dedicated to exposing the social issues of racial injustice and life on the streets. But they became more like rivals simply because one came from the East Coast and the other came from the west coast.
Another unfortunate similarity is that both artists ended up dead just as their careers were taking off. Tupac was gunned down on Sept. 7,1996 and Biggie was shot and killed six months later on March 9, 1997. Neither of their murders were solved.
The two weren’t always enemies. Both were born on the east coast. Tupac was the son of a single mother who moved to the west coast to find a safer neighborhood to live in.
Biggie grew up in Brooklyn attending prestigious high schools and rapping and dealing drugs ‘for fun’.
Tupac rose to fame before Biggie. When Biggie came to the west coast, he asked to be introduced to Tupac and the two began hanging out and working together.
It all went south when both rappers were scheduled to work with another rapper, Little Sean (aka Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs) on a recording.
Tupac arrived at the studio after Combs and Biggie and was headed upstairs to meet them when he was gunned down in the lobby and shot five times. He survived the attack but always thought Biggie had something to do with it, a belief that was further instilled after he got some inside info during a stint in jail.
Things got even worse when Tupac got signed to Death Row Records which already had a rivalry with Combs’ Bad Boy Records.
This led to the rappers releasing songs with lyrics made to trigger one another. Biggie put out the song, “Who Shot Ya?” and Tupac followed up with the response track, “Hit ‘Em Up” in which he claimed to have slept with Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans. Evans denied the claim.
After Tupac’s death, Biggie wanted to put the fighting behind him. It’s unclear whether this was a genuine effort or just a way to calm things down and save himself. But if the latter was the case, the effort was not successful.
So was Tupac’s death the end product of a previous failed murder attempt by Biggie? And was Tupac’s eventual murder revenge for Biggie’s death? Unfortunately, these are secrets that both men will take with them to the grave.
Roger Waters and David Gilmour Of Pink Floyd
Roger Waters (bass and vocals) and David Gilmour (guitar and vocals) are the superpowers behind Pink Floyd. But Waters, who was in the band before Gilmour, was always a bit put off by collaboration. This led to a rift which would cause him to leave the band in 1985.
Waters believed that the band could not continue without him due to a ‘leaving member clause’ and set out to dissolve the band. He was surprised by a push back from Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason and was forced to resign.
He still maintained that breaking up the band was the right thing to do as he felt they were ‘no longer Pink Floyd anymore’ and they weren’t making any money.
Despite their differences, Mason, Gilmour, and Waters have done a few reunion performances that were smashing successes. But no long-term plans emerged.
Pink Floyd continues to play with Gilmour and Mason at the helm. Waters has spoken out about his hurt feelings since he is not permitted access to the band’s social media accounts. He has taken swipes at Gilmore’s wife who runs the accounts, adding further fuel to the fire.
Running hot and cold, he has also made attempts to reconcile the band, with meetings that ended in disaster.
Gilmour and Waters have been at war with each other for close to 40 years with no end in sight.
Musicians are known to make beautiful music with one another. But why can’t we all just get along? I suppose it’s easier said than done.
Which of these still-feuding musicians would you most like to see get over their differences and move on?