10 of the Nastiest Band Breakups In Rock

September 13, 2018
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Breakups can get ugly sometimes. He said this. She said that. This person did this. This person did that. 

But nowhere nearly as messy as rock band breakups. That's why we bring you 10 bands with the nastiest breakups ever!

10. Guns N' Roses
Group five guys together, let them live the sex, drugs, and rock n' roll lifestyle to the fullest, and make them the biggest band in the world at the peak of the '80s heavy metal era, chances are things won't end too well. Three years after Appetite for Destruction was released, drummer Steven Adler was replaced due to his serious drug addiction. Axl Rose started showing up to shows hours late. Nearing the end of their stint as a band together, Slash and Duff McKagan recall Axl refusing to go onstage until they signed away their rights to the band's name (to which Axl denies).

When the Use Your Illusion tour ended, members of GNR started to drift apart, and emotions between them didn't gotten any better. Axl considered Slash to be a "cancer" and refused to attend their induction ceremony into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame because he knew Slash and his former bandmates would be there as well. But after nearly twenty years apart, Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan reunited together in Guns N' Roses for their Not In This Lifetime tour, which went on to be one of the most successful tours ever. 

9. The Everly Brothers
Sibling rivalry happens to nearly everyone. But we all grow out of it at some point, right? Tell that to the Everly Brothers, because when your own flesh and blood is also your business partner and creative contributor, secrets are a dangerous thing to keep hidden. 

The Everly Brothers kept their stuff together for 20 years together, but when Don Everly showed up to a Hollywood show drunk, that's where it really hit the fan. Don proceeded to mess up the lyrics to their songs so much that Phil Everly eventually took his guitar, smashed it over Don's head, and stormed out. The two brothers never spoke to each other for a decade until they reunited to attend their father's funeral. They buried the hatchet in 1983 and toured together again, although emotions were still a bit raw between them.

8. Oasis
Speaking of brothers, the Gallagher brothers regularly fought with each other like it was their job in the early days of Oasis until they settled in a comfortable medium in 2009. They would release an album every two or three years, toured throughout Europe, and played massive shows. Some fans viewed them as the modern Lennon and McCarthy.

Well all good things have to come to an end eventually. Because backstage at a 2009 music festival in Paris, various accounts said that the brothers got into a huge physical altercation where they called off their gig, thus marking the end of Oasis. However, the brothers appear to be back on speaking terms again after nearly ten years apart.

7. The Police
Formed in 1977 by drummer Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers, and Gordon "Sting" Sumner the band was on top of the world within a year. But as Sting took control of the band, that's when emotions started to boil. Copland and Summers felt more like Sting's employees rather than bandmates and the fights started to happen more and more frequently, even as they kept getting bigger and bigger.

In his 2006 memoir, One Train Later, Summers brings up a fight while they were recording Ghost in the Machine. Summers says that Sting flipped out on him, calling him every vulgar name in his lexicon. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Sting explained that none of them had anything in common and usually he was the one who had to tell someone that their idea for a song was terrible.

6. The Eagles
The Eagles were by far the biggest band in America by 1980. But fame and fortune can be a deadly mix for some people. Don Henley and Glenn Frey were fully intent on making music for the rest of their lives, while original members Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner had departed from the band because the rock n' roll lifestyle grew too toxic for them. Joe Walsh was often too drunk or stoned to comment on his willpower, new bassist Timothy B. Schmit stayed away from the vices, and Don Felder hated the thought of being treated like a second-class citizen.

Throughout the band's 1979 tour for their The Long Run album, emotions and tensions were boiling non-stop. Add a 1980 benefit show for Senator Alan Cranston and you've got a recipe for disaster. Felder didn't want the band to be involved in anything political, and when the senator's wife came backstage to meet the band, Felder said "Nice to meet you... I guess." The last two words in that sentence sent Glenn Frey into such a rage that the Eagles even started to threaten each other while on stage at the benefit. "That's three more, pal" said Frey. "Get ready." He was referring to the number of songs left before their set ended where they would go backstage and have a royal beatdown. Felder however left in his limo before the fight had a chance to happen. That was the last time they performed together for 14 years.

5. The Clash
Like many bands on this list, The Clash had a hard time adjusting to the band's success. Their single "Rock the Casbah" made them a hit on MTV in 1982. In a bizarre twist, the song was written by former drummer Topper Headon, who was kicked out of the band due to his heroin addiction before the band really hit it big. When the Clash were the opening act for The Who's "farewell" tour, the band members saw it as an omen of their future of having to play old hits for money in big stadiums. The very thought of it was unappealing to the Clash.

It wasn't just the idea of being has-beens that ruffled their feathers. None of the band members could agree on what direction the band should be taken. Mick Jones started leaning towards hip-hop, Paul Simonon liked the reggae route, and Joe Strummer wanted to keep punk alive. Jones and Strumner hardly talked to each other after their hiatus to play a festival in 1983. The show itself didn't go very well either, as they all felt like sellouts playing a corporate show. Jones left the band soon after.

4. Smashing Pumpkins
With most bands, there are usually one or two individuals calling the shots and the rest of the band trust in their judgement. Democracy is a concept rarely found in these groups. Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins insisted on playing most of the guitar and bass parts on their 1993 album Siamese Dream. That didn't fly well with D'arcy Wretzke and James Iha. The band kept it together until 1996 when the Pumpkins' touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin died of a heroin overdose. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin overdosed that same night, thus getting himself kicked out of the band. He briefly returned in 1999, but D'arcy left shortly afterward. The Smashing Pumpkins finally called it quits in December of 2000.

But 18 years later, Corgan reunited with Iha and Chamberlin for the Smashing Pumpkins' Shiny And Oh So Bright tour in 2018.

3. Rage Against The Machine

It didn't matter that they made a career of merging Rock and Rap, or that they had three very successful albums, or that they were one of the best bands to see live. When egos flair, nothing else matters. The band argued over the intellectual rights to their covers album Renegades. On October 18th, 2000, lead singer Zack de la Rocha announced that he was leaving the band.

While speaking with Lars Ulrich on It's Electric!, guitarist Tom Morello admits that part of what pulled them apart was a lack of "emotional maturity."

2. The Pixies

Had The Pixies remained together a few years longer, they could have been one of the biggest bands to emerge in the '80s.  With two successful albums under their belt, it was their misfortune of being "alternative" before alternative music would be embraced in the '90s. By then, they were already on the verge of splitting up as Black Francis and Kim Deal were not too fond of each other.

By the time Deal left, fans were already infatuated with her, making Francis so jealous that he made sure that she was not included on any of their future albums. When they agreed to open for U2 on their Zoo TV tour, the Pixies weren't too happy with playing to unfilled venues with uninterested U2 fans. A year later Francis told his bandmates that it was over.

1. Queensryche

What happened on April 14th, 2012 in Sao Paolo, Brazil is often disputed by the members of Queensryche, but they are all on the same page when all of their bottled-up emotions finally burst into a physical altercation. It all started when the band held a meeting in regards to the future of the band. Geoff Tate claims that his bandmates didn't want his wife as their manager anymore.

Allegedly, Scott Rockenfield told Tate that they fired his whole family and that he would be next. From there, Tate attempted to land a punch on him before he was pulled aside. Meanwhile, the band stands by Rockenfield, saying he never instigated the fight with those comments.