Unmasking the Egos: Exploring the Turbulent World of Musician Dynamics and Ten of the Messiest Band Breakups in History. Here’s a look at some of the most shocking and craziest band splits of all times!
Even though musicians today are more likely to live clean, laid-back lifestyles, we still do have examples of them being difficult towards each other. This is often due to their perfectionism and protectiveness of their work. Additionally, some musicians may let their fame go to their heads and start to think they are better than their peers. They are often free-spirited individuals who resist social norms. This stereotype dates back to the 1950s, when rock ‘n’ roll pioneers like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley shocked the world with their excess.
Musicians are known to be difficult to get along with, despite music being a unifying force. This is understandable, given the fame and adoration they receive. Additionally, writing classic songs requires talent and creativity, which can lead to an inflated sense of self-importance. This industry is often described as a world with many stories of in-fighting, feuds, and messy breakups that have occurred throughout musical history.
Here’s a look at some of the most shocking and craziest band splits of all times!
The Police, a new wave trio consisting of Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Summers, achieved critical and commercial success during their seven-year career from 1977 to 1984. Despite their musical brilliance, the band was plagued by infighting and clashing egos. Tensions reached a boiling point after their 1984 tour for the hit album Synchronicity. Sting, frustrated with Copeland’s increasingly erratic behavior, allegedly erupted at both Copeland and Summers during a rehearsal. Citing their lack of common ground, Sting left the band to embark on a solo career. Ultimately, the breakup may have been the best outcome for all three members, as they all went on to achieve significant success in their own right. They did reunite for a lucrative reunion tour in 2007-2008.
Noel and Liam Gallagher’s feud reaches boiling point: Noel and Liam Gallagher’s feud had been simmering for years, but it finally reached a boiling point in August 2009. Scheduled to perform at the Rock en Seine festival in Paris, the brothers got into a physical fight backstage. It is said that Liam smashed one of Noel’s guitars in a fit of rage, which was the final straw for Noel. Shortly after the scuffle, the band announced their breakup. After 20 years of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, the brothers’ personalities had become incompatible. The feud that ensued has been well-publicized, with both brothers taking turns at each other in the media.
The Smashing Pumpkins
Chicago’s alternative rock band, the Smashing Pumpkins, burst onto the scene in 1988 and quickly became one of the most influential guitar bands of the 1990s. Their eclectic sound, which blended elements of goth, shoegaze, metal, and psychedelia, produced a string of classic hits. However, behind the scenes, the band was plagued by drug use, personal conflicts, and Billy Corgan’s ego. All of these factors contributed to the band’s breakup at the end of 2000.
In a parting shot, Corgan labeled bassist D’Arcy Wretzky a “mean-spirited drug addict who refused to get help.” He also accused guitarist James Iha of playing a role in the band’s demise. Iha denied Corgan’s claims, insisting that the only person who could have broken up the band was Corgan himself. Ultimately, the Smashing Pumpkins needed a break from each other. Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain would not rejoin the band until 2018.
Formed in 1971, they reached their peak in the late 1970s with their fifth album, Hotel California, which is considered a classic. However, fame had its toll on the band in the early 1980s. Original members Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon left the band, citing their dislike of fame and the toxic work environment. Joe Walsh struggled with addiction, and lead guitarist Don Felder felt he was being treated as a second-class citizen.
The band’s music was also becoming increasingly sterile. They began playing at events such as political benefits, which Felder found distasteful. When he spoke his mind to co-lead singer Glenn Frey, Frey became enraged. At their next show, the two men threatened each other through their microphones. Felder knew that Frey wanted to fight him after the show, so he quickly left the venue. This was the last Eagles performance for many years.
The band formed in 1960 and split in 1970, after releasing some of the most iconic music of all time. By 1966, the Beatles had stopped touring, and this new era of the band led to their best work, but also to exhaustion, drug use, and infighting. The band members even wrote songs about their disagreements with each other. Frontman John Lennon decided to leave the band in 1969, but he did not make a formal announcement to the media. The public did not learn of his departure until Paul McCartney announced his first solo album in 1970. Lennon then made his own statement, confirming the split. The Beatles’ breakup was a complex event with many contributing factors, but it is clear that the band members had grown apart and were no longer able to work together effectively.
The Everly Brothers
The Everly Brothers, Phil and Don, were once hailed as music’s most exemplary familial partnership. From 1956 to 1973, the duo penned some of the most influential songs ever written. However, their relationship was tumultuous, and their partnership eventually disintegrated.
In 1973, at a show in Santa Ana, California, tensions reached a boiling point. Don, who had been battling addiction for years, showed up to the show inebriated and could not remember the lyrics to their hit songs. Phil, enraged, physically broke a guitar over Don’s head and stormed off stage. The brothers did not speak again for ten years, until the death of their father. Even then, their relationship was strained. They briefly reunited for a tour in 2005, but that was their last, as both brothers have since passed away.
Guns N’ Roses
Gun N’ Roses, the hard-rockers known for their rock ‘n’ roll excess, were bound to implode at some point. Their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was a smash hit, but the superstardom it brought also brought with it ample amounts of drugs and inflated egos. By 1990, things started to unravel. Drummer Steven Adler was fired for his crippling drug addiction, and frontman Axl Rose became unbearable. He would turn up late to shows, and it is alleged that he even held the band hostage one night before a gig, forcing the other band members, Duff McKagan and Slash, to sign away their rights to the band’s name. In 1993, Axl called Slash a “cancer,” signaling the end of the band’s original iteration. Slash and McKagan would not return until 2016.
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys, the legendary surf rock band, are the most famous example of a band that actually split in two. Drug use, the deaths of founding members, and inflated egos have all contributed to the band’s long and winding history. In addition to their pioneering music, the rivalry between mastermind Brian Wilson and Mike Love has always been a blight on the band. Their relationship is the embodiment of opposites. There have been numerous court cases over the years, further complicating the situation. Today, Mike Love tours under the Beach Boys name, while Brian Wilson and Al Jardine tour with their own iteration of the band, but are legally prohibited from using the Beach Boys moniker.
Pink Floyd, one of the most iconic rock bands of all time, was characterized by the perennial sparring between main songwriters Roger Waters and David Gilmour. The other members, Richard Wright and Nick Mason, were also not immune to the fallout. Waters left the band in the mid-1980s, sparking a legal dispute over the use of the band’s name and an era of “duplicity rather than diplomacy.” Gilmour claimed that Waters left the band to hasten its demise, while Waters claimed that the other three band members ousted him and threatened to sue unless he walked. The band reunited for a brief performance at Live Aid in 2005, but by 2006, they were “definitely deceased.”
Simon and Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel, once best friends, decided to pursue a career in music after meeting in elementary school in 1953. However, their brief career was marred by jealousy and betrayal. Garfunkel, envious of Simon’s songwriting acclaim, belittled him for his stature and insecurities. The tension eventually became unbearable, and the band split in 1970. Each reunion has been short-lived, as the pair are polar opposites. Mort Lewis, the band’s manager, once remarked, “They both envied the other’s place in the team,” which perfectly encapsulates their relationship.
All factual information sourced for reference from the FarOut Magazine
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