Battle of the Bands: When the Famous Fight

Being in a band can be so tough. When you’re writing songs, recording albums, touring the world, and doing it all with the same exact people day after day, relationships can become a little strained, to say the least. It’s like being in any family – you fight, you get mad, then you make up … most of the time.

Let’s start with the Rolling Stones, or more specifically the “Glimmer Twins” as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are affectionately known. These two have obviously learned the art of “kiss and make up” pretty well, to withstand nearly 60 years together. From the 60s through today, the famed duo has had more than their fair share of differences, even doing solo albums during band breaks. In 2010, Richards decided to publish his autobiography, in which he called Jagger’s manhood a “tiny dodger,” and referred to Jagger as “her majesty.” Yikes!

Jagger’s very rancorous response? “Imagine that everything Keith says is true. Now imagine those things being said by a business partner… Now imagine that partner is drug addicted. Sometimes, you have a big meeting, and he doesn’t show… Or maybe he gets busted on the eve of a world tour. What, in such a case, would you make of his complaints?”

Richards also took potshots at Jagger more recently, stating in 2016 (when a then-73-year-old Mick welcomed his eighth child) “It’s time for the snip — you can’t be a father at that age. Those poor kids

Ultimately, Mick and Keith realized they could never earn as much alone as they could as a band. However, the friction between the two is what apparently keeps the spark alive.

Moving on to Aerosmith, and the infighting between “the Toxic Twins,” Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.  These guys might still be rocking well into their golden years, but it took a whole lot of therapy to get there, along with a few physical altercations along the way. Some of it was drug-induced, some of it was spouse-related. Most famously, the pair routinely came to blows, with Perry even quitting the band once in 1979 after a particularly nasty physical altercation. More recently, Perry publicly dissed Tyler’s 2016 solo effort, and in response, Steven shrugged and replied, “Jealousy runs deep in this family.” In spite of it all, the band has soldiered on since forming in the very early 70s and managed to figure out the formula to their success along the way. According to Perry, the two band members are now closer than ever and Perry considers Tyler, with whom he was once at odds with, as his brother.

Few know infighting like Guns & Roses. They burst onto the music scene like a white-hot flame in the late 80s, but they began to fizzle beginning in the 90s, culminating in 1996 when lead guitarist Slash quit the band over differences with singer Axl Rose. Rose’s temper tantrums are legendary, he’s been called “the most difficult person to work with in rock music” by many, and he reportedly began showing up to rehearsals and performances late, or not at all. At one point, he even demanded the sole right to use the band’s name (he now denies this). He reportedly even called Slash out, saying “Personally I consider Slash a cancer and better removed, avoided, and the less anyone heard of him or his supporters, the better.” This was said right after Slash’s mother died from cancer. He also refused to attend when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, causing the band to use Miles Kennedy for vocals. Slash stoically stayed silent throughout most of it publicly, refusing to degenerate the band’s name over the rift. In 2018, Slash and Axl finally had a heart-to-heart and not only mended their damaged relationship but reunited the band for the “Not in This Lifetime” tour, a name jokingly inspired by Axl’s sarcastic response in 2012 when asked if Guns N’ Roses would ever play again.

One band that took infighting to a whole new level was Fleetwood Mac. It wasn’t just two of them fighting – it was pretty much the whole band, all the time. We’d need an interactive chart to show all the romantic entanglements between members of Fleetwood Mac, which was the stuff that fueled most of the bands infighting and drama over the years. Between the McVie divorce, and the triangle of Lindsey and Stevie and Mick, it was pretty much a circus. Add drugs to the mix, and you can pretty much guess the rest. We’d like to believe all’s well that ends well, however in 2018, Lindsey was forced out of the band. He claimed Stevie delivered an ultimatum that if he didn’t leave, she would … which led to a lawsuit that’s since been settled. And now, the rumor is circling that they are reforming yet again? Stay tuned.

Perhaps the most famous band feud of all time was the one between The Beatles. While the other bands either stayed together, or re-formed countless times, this story has no happy ending. For just the few years they were together, The Beatles dominated the world stage and changed the face of rock music forever. But as their fame grew, band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison argued over the direction of their music. Tempers flared, members walked out of recording sessions, and the blame game began. Some pointed the finger at Yoko Ono and her perceived manipulation of John, others placed the blame squarely on Paul’s inflated ego. By 1970, they were all done with each other collectively, and went their separate ways to very successful solo careers. The sniping got pretty bad, with John writing “How Do You Sleep?” directed at Paul, and Paul’s retaliating with “Too Many People.” Over the next few years, they were offered millions to re-form for just one concert but to no avail. It wasn’t about the money.

All hope of them ever reuniting ending with John’s tragic and senseless murder December 8, 1980. The other three collaborated one last time to put together Anthology, a retrospective project consisting of a documentary, a three-volume set of double albums, and a book describing the history of the Beatles, released in 1995 and 1996. Sadly, tragedy would again strike the lads in November 2001, when George lost his battle with cancer.

The remaining two Beatles have made massive efforts to preserve the enduring legacy all four of them created. The 1969 full length documentary “Let It Be” is about to be re-released, re-edited and lengthened to show that despite the discord, there was also love. “For in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Numerous other bands have had similar issues. It seems the disagreements go hand in hand with the artistic temperament. We just picked the five bands we felt had the longest lasting impact.

Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected].