10 Biggest Rock ‘N’ Roll Feuds
There is no avoiding confrontation among creatives. Imaginations run strong, and imagined ideas become like children to those who bear them. Kicking it up a notch, there are no greater confrontations than those that are offered by creatives in the music industry, particularly, rock ‘n’ roll. These are often high-octane, drug-fueled individuals who can grow quite surly when they don’t have things their way, and while things rarely come to blows, these dogs like to bark loudly. Here are 10 of the greatest feuds in rock music history.
10. Simon and Garfunkel
They certainly aren’t the Hatfields and McCoys, but Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel don’t always like one another. They loved and enjoyed their early success to lives as millionaires, and the status of a legendary folk-rock duo, but after more than a decade of making music together, they began to grow apart. Both men recorded as solo artists, never able to find the success they enjoyed together, so they tried again for more success as a duo, but then hurt one another’s feelings. Paul’s sarcastic sense of humor didn’t always meld with Art’s desire to be earnest. So, they butted heads. Then made up. Then butted heads. Then made up. Then butted heads… then made up. Now, they’re kind of butting heads again. The last time they played together was in 2010 at New Orleans Jazz Fest.
9. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones have survived several feuds throughout their illustrious careers. It seems like something they do when they get bored. While they feuded with The Beatles back in the heyday, they also feuded with people outside of the band, most notably, Keith Richards and guitar legend, Chuck Berry. However, there was no feud greater than the one that developed between the two of them. It was, after all, the only one that threatened the very existence of the Rolling Stones. In the 1970s, the two did not see eye to eye — Keith was abusing drugs, and Mick was gallivanting the globe promoting himself as a celebrity. At the height of it, the two wouldn’t even speak to one another, and honestly, had nothing to say even if they would have. Now, they’re cool. And they’re rocking into their own 70s.
8. Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose
Talk about a feud blown way out of proportion. What exactly happened between the late Kurt Cobain and Guns N’ Roses frontman, Axl Rose? The story goes like this. Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were hanging out with their infant daughter, Frances Bean, outside of the MTV VMAs, when Axl Rose cruised by with G ‘N’ R, and Kurt and Court allegedly hollered at Axl — in good fun — and asked if he’d be Frances’s godfather. Axl responded with a hard pointed finger at Kurt, and told him he better shut his lady up, or he was going to take Kurt to the concrete. The disdain allegedly grew from Nirvana’s declination to open for Guns N’ Roses on tour. Kurt and the boys had no interest. No. No scuffle ever took place, but the fact that Axl suggested they should while Kurt was holding a baby? C’mon, Rose.
7. Nirvana and Pearl Jam
Kurt Cobain was a surly dude. He didn’t censor himself, and would mumble his way through some serious zingers regarding other acts in the music industry. One band he didn’t like being compared to was Pearl Jam. He hated that the two bands were lumped together, and took it upon himself to place Pearl Jam in a genre which offended the members of Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder and the fellas didn’t take it too personally, and eventually Kurt backed off, after Eddie gave him a ring on the telephone. Ultimately, Ed was right. Fans of Nirvana were fans of Pearl Jam, and no true fan thought the two bands were anything alike. After Kurt committed suicide in 1994, Pearl Jam played Saturday Night Live less than two weeks later. During the evening’s bows, Eddie pulled his jacket open to reveal a Sharpie’d “K.” Epic.
6. The Eagles
The Eagles vs. who? No. Not The Who. Themselves. That’s who. These guys got to a point where they loathed one another. They couldn’t carry on complete performances without wanting to go at each other onstage. During a legendary, 1980 show in Long Beach, Don Felder and Glenn Frey went at it verbally throughout the concert, and toward the end, Felder remarked, “Only three more songs until I kick your ass, pal.” After the tour, the band parted ways, though they still owed the label a live album to fulfill contractual obligations. Don Henley and Glenn Frey produced this album from opposite sides of the country. When fans asked if the band would ever reunite, Henley said, “When hell freezes over.” As fate would have it, time healed wounds, and in 1994, they released a live album, Hell Freezes Over.
5. John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival
There will never be a revival of the original Creedence Clearwater Revival. John Fogerty was the heart of CCR, and the band’s m.o. was whatever John said. He knew that they were little to nothing without his songwriting ability, but his stringent rules eventually pushed his brother, Tom, from the mix. The band soon dissolved, and John went on to enjoy success as a solo artist. This feud has never ended. It did take its turn in court, driving the wedge deeper between the surviving band members, but they never buried the hatchet. John was heartbroken for some 25 years, and never played any of their tunes. Even when they were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, John refused to play with any former member of CCR, and played their hit songs with other musicians.
4. Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth
This could be more about the Van Halen brothers, and their struggles with anyone taking the lead signing duties of their band. But… nothing was better than the frequent miscommunication, and misunderstanding of Eddie Van Halen and original lead singer, David Lee Roth. The guys could never get on the same page, preferred different musical directions, and of course, Eddie struggled mightily with the bottle. Then, they would hug it out, and make up. This happened in the 1980s, the 1990s and early 21st century. The boys are back together and touring in 2015. Still, it merits a story of the last time they reunited before splitting, when David Lee Roth said that the band would be touring very soon, and Eddie immediately contradicted the statement suggesting he couldn’t tour before having hip surgery. See ’em while you can.
3. Paul McCartney and John Lennon
This may be the saddest of all the splits in the music industry with bad blood. People grow older, and they change and grow apart. Sadly, there is animosity when people change, when not all parties are on board. Paul’s relationship with John became strained as his relationship with George was buckling under pressure. Sadly, it was the relationship with Yoko Ono that deeply isolated John and Paul. Many have pointed an undeserving finger at Yoko for the breakup of The Beatles, but it was inevitable. Yoko likely kept John in the mix, until he could establish himself as a solo artist. The fellas eventually made nice, but were never friends again, and the reaction of Paul after John’s murder kind of said it all. He looked as if he had several things that would have to remain unsaid.
2. Axl Rose and Slash
According to Slash, he quit Guns N’ Roses in 1996, and according to Axl, he fired Slash during that time period because the lead guitarist had lost his mojo. Whatever the case, the two have never played together since. Nope. No reunions. When Axl performs with G’N’R these days, it’s just a bunch of random dudes who learned the songs, backing Axl Rose. Slash has tried his best to remain amicable in speech when discussing what happened, but he openly admits that Axl “hates my guts.” This seems silly, and fans want a G’N’R reunion badly, but it’s never gonna happen. If there’s anything about Axl Rose — other than him having a problem with anyone he has ever worked with — it’s the fact that he’s a very prideful individual, and considers his long-held disdain a matter of principle.
1. Courtney Love and Dave Grohl
These two never liked each other. This is a true feud. We’re not talking on-again, off-again relations. They hate each other. These are two people who loved the same person, and both thought they had his best interest at heart. Sadly, Courtney was crazy. Once upon a time, Dave was asked which of Courtney’s songs he could appreciate, and he said, “Teenage Whore…” because he knew she really wrote the song. Burn. Of course, Dave has always maintained that Courtney’s craziness led to the untimely demise of Kurt Cobain, and the only time the two shared in some like-mindedness was when they intervened in Kurt’s daily routine to get him to go to rehab. They’ve fought over Nirvana; they’ve fought over Kurt’s legacy; and Courtney has even gone so far as to accuse Dave of hitting on Frances Cobain. Damn.