There's something unique about rock music, and we don't just mean its ability to blow eardrums and turn good girls bad. No, we mean its tradition of epic breakups.
Unlike other businesses where you'd write a letter notifying your colleagues one month ahead of your departure, rock bands prefer to go out with a bang. Usually with a fistful of drugs and hate.
We've been sifting through band breakup stories, and after much deliberation have settled on what we think are the ugliest breakups in rock history. Some are from the classic era of rock back in the 20th century, but several made it into our top five because disputes between band members continue to rage on for decades into 2012. Sometimes a band will never learn from its mistakes.
So here, we present to you the official top 5 ugliest band breakups. If you think we missed out on a better story, share it in the comments.
05. The Eagles
This band ruled the world in the 1970s. But with great talent comes great egos.
In 1980 guitarists Glenn Frey and Don Felder hated each other so much that they agreed to a fight during a show at Long Beach, as Frey recalls:
“We’re onstage, and Felder looks back at me and says, ‘Only three more song till I kick your ass, pal.’ And I’m saying, ‘Great. I can’t wait.’ We’re out there singing ‘Best of My Love,’ but inside both of us are thinking, ‘As soon as this is over, I’m gonna kill him.’”
They reunited in 1994, but Felder left again in 2001. He claimed wrongful termination, and it was another six years before they settled the case out of court.
The Gallagher brothers were often at odds with each other, but their tensions came to a head in 2009. Both Liam and Noel claim the other attacked them with a guitar, but either way, the band were finished.
Noel tells his side of the story, which suggests the breakup could have been even uglier: "[Liam had] gone into his private dressing room and he'd picked up this guitar. He came back in and he was wielding it about like an axe. He was quite violent … he nearly took my face off."
03. Guns N' Roses
Tension between members of the early Gn'R lineup continue to boil two decades later, making this one of the most drawn out and exhausting breakups in rock history. A combination of drug abuse, late appearances and full-scale crowd riots promoted members to drop like flies from the lineup, and Axl Rose's frequent clashes with Slash and Duff McKagan led to their departure in the mid 90s.
There was an opportunity with their 2012 induction to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame to make amends and put the past behind them, but months of rumors culminated in a stern letter from Rose saying he wouldn't take part in the ceremony.
Long-term singer Geoff Tate was fired from the band in spectacular fashion in June after allegedly attacking his bandmates before a show in Brazil and making deals on behalf of the band without their consent.
It could have ended there as a typically outrageous rock anecdote, but instead both parties dragged each other through the courts to sling mud in public view. The case continues, but as it stands, there appear to be two versions of Queensryche — one with the musicians, the other fronted by Geoff Tate billing himself as the original voice of Queensryche. Whichever version you support, it's been damn ugly — and it's not over yet.
01. Black Sabbath
They started as pioneers of metal, but money and fame led to greed, drugs and the dark side. They should have listened to Yoda.
Tony Iommi decided to fire Ozzy Osbourne for boozing too much in 1979, though every member abused drugs at the time. "We were all doing a lot of drugs, a lot of coke, a lot of everything, and Ozzy was getting drunk so much at the time," Iommi explained later. "We were supposed to be rehearsing and nothing was happening. It was like 'Rehearse today? No, we'll do it tomorrow.' It really got so bad that we didn't do anything."
The real mark of an ugly breakup is when drama between founding members continues today. As with Guns N' Roses, 2012 saw perhaps the ugliest period in Black Sabbath's existence when founding drummer Bill Ward was shut out of their new reunion over a contractual dispute, leading to a very public breakdown in their relationship. Matters were made infinitely more complicated when Iommi was struck by cancer.
The remaining members continue to work on their new album, but with the drama still fresh in our memory, Black Sabbath and Bill Ward have earned themselves our award for the ugliest (and perhaps most tragic) breakup in rock history.