Top 5 Ugliest Band Breakups

Rock stars know how to go out with a bang, but these bands turned the drama up to 11 before imploding. Read stories about the craziest band breakups right here.

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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.

04. Oasis

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.

02. Queensryche

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.

233 comments sorted by best / new / date

    gnurph
    Metallica + Lou Reed. I really thought they had something special, like they couldve made ReLulu, St. Lulu, Lulu Magnetic...
    rayven1lk
    HAHA maybe they might revisit their old stuff too...Ride the Lulu
    gnurph
    That one would definitely come with parental advisory.
    chrisvasco23
    so would "master of lulu"
    brndnstffrd
    Creeping Lulu Hit the Lulu The End of the Lulu The Unforgiven part Lulu Disposable Lulus
    cfhdomination
    Personally, I think ...And Lulu For All was their best work.
    TuningGamer
    The album full of covers that were just spoken out loud was great too! What was it called? I believe it was Lulu Inc.
    gnurph
    Songs about gang... am I allowed to say it?... bangs, each one about 7 - 10 minutes long. That one would definitely come with a parental advisory.
    hrdr0krAS
    pantera???
    Metallover94
    When I read this title, I immediately thought Pantera would be on here. That breakup is way too brutal.
    qrEE
    That was my exact thought to. Say what you want, but when break up leads to murder? That's some ugly stuff.
    Air_Stryker
    I don't think the break up led directly to Dime's murder, no one could've foreseen that it would've driven a schizo over the edge to gun Dime down on stage. But as it stands even without that in mind, you are right, i was a damn ugly break up =/
    My Last Words
    Yeah, but taken the war of words between Phil and vinnie, + Vinnie being a little harsh on his side.. Even if dime wasn't gunned, I doubt they'd reform..
    jeleopard
    Nathan Gal said he blamed Dime for breaking up Pantera
    My Last Words
    I thought he thought Darrel had stolen his riffs or something ?
    kelvink
    I heard both theories, band members heard him blaming Dime for the break up while shooting, NG thinking that band members could read his mind, and the thing with the stolen lyrics or riffs or something.... Nobody will ever know the whole truth I think. The only thing I'm sure about is, that this is the worst thing that ever happened to Metal.
    sideslick
    Not a breakup, per se, but how Damageplan ended was pretty terrible. Rest In peace, Dime.
    Agent 00Awesome
    Pink Floyd? Cool article though.
    jrodgers
    Yeah I wouldve put Pink Floyd over ALL these. I guess though since Waters and Gilmore have somewhat buried the hatchet in recent years, the criteria of this list didn't consider them?
    TuningGamer
    It still was ugly and they still don't tour together, so it should be up here. Perhaps no. 3 or 2?
    ToolCreedence
    Wasn't it Rick Wright and Waters who really hated each other?
    jrodgers
    Honestly Waters seemed to be at odds with all other 3 members of the band. Yes he did eliminate Rick Wright (R.I.P.) of his full membership status because he felt he wasn't contributing enough. But it was Waters and Gilmour who were the 2 main creative forces and devisive personalities in the split. Notice that Gilmour reformed Pink Floyd with everyone BUT Waters, while Waters fought them in court over use of the name
    UpcomingMe
    Ummmm... where's Mayhem ?
    gnurph
    Beatles. Without slamming Yoko
    Most_Triumphant
    Yes the Beatles where on their way to a break up. Yoko was a MAJOR catalyst. Paul and John would often hang out after the Beatles, whenever Yoko wasn't around, so maybe they wouldn't have broken up without Yoko. Why ignore a major part of the story? Also Van Halen was pretty ugly.
    Whiteboy_az
    Beatles? Paul actually took it to court to have the band legally dissolved, I think that qualifies as ugly.
    Paro_metalhead
    What about Mayhem, the singer commit suicide, then the bassist murdered the guitarist, if that's not the ugliest and most disturbing breakup ever, then WTF IS???
    thebigredjj10
    Yep. A breakup where two members end up dead, and a third is in jail for murder is definitely messy. Even if the band manages to reform. And if you don't count that as a breakup because the band reformed, then Black Sabbath, Guns N' Roses, and Queensryche don't count either.
    gray96
    I think that it counts as a breakup if the band didn't reform in its classic lineup again even if it exists in another, lesser form. As such, you could argue that Black Sabbath doesn't count, I think.
    Pol-Pot-Smoker
    Radio Moscow? Come on, the guitarist crushed his guitar on the bassist's face...
    zalant
    "...slammed his guitar ..." We only use the word "slam" around here. Hehe.
    DexterF
    Wait, what? Are we talking about the Radio Moscow who released "The Great Escape Of Leslie Magnafuzz"? I can't find anything on that incident, got a source?
    iommi600
    If I'm not wrong, @Pol-Pot-Smoker got it wrong, Parker Griggs DID hit the bassist on stage, but they didn't broke up, he just recruited a new bassist. There's video footage showing it on youtube... Btw, @zalant made my day, lol
    KISSmyass666
    Remember megadeth had 3+ breakups since the band started. mostly drug raged.Like Kerry king,Gar,Marty,and so on. -----MEGADETH-----
    eatfresh1736
    It wasn't breakups as much as Dave firing everyone every couple months or so
    killektrika
    I don't think either of Kerry King or Marty Friedman was ever fired from Megadeth. They left on their own. The rest of them, yes.
    unclejemima394
    I think Marty was fired, don't quote me but I remember Dave talking about how Marty wanted to go in a different direction than the band (the decade long decent into something pop hits of the 90's shows it.) Kerry did leave on his own. His other band was starting to go places and he wanted to focus on that band. lol Nick Menza left on his own though after Cryptic. That's all I can think of. I don't know about the newer lineups.
    killektrika
    Marty was not fired. The part you said about going in a different direction is true. There was a point where Mustaine asked him to return to their original thrash roots, thats when Marty disagreed and left for Japan. (This is Mustaine's version though)
    (skip to 18)
    Bati
    There is more drama than uglyness in these examples. I was expecting something a bit more memorable. IDK, Skip Spence tried to murder a member of his band Moby Grape with a fire axe. There has to be more stories like that around. BTW, Skip Spence was fired and commited in a mental institution. And then re-hired by Moby Grape! And then commited again.
    flaphead325
    Black Sabbath has nothing of an ugly breakup, they broke up for good, Toni, Geezer and Bill went with Ronnie James Dio and released 2 of their best albums. Ozzy went to do his solo carrier that I don't like so much. The band needed a change, it's good they broke up at that point.
    i_am_metalhead
    Umm... no. Just no. Dio Sabbath was terrible. Nothing they released even came close to the stuff the original lineup put out.
    jbyungwoo
    what the ****? am I the only one who thinks that the albums with dio are pure gold?
    unclejemima394
    The first album I ever heard of "Sabbath" was Mob Rules and I fell in love with it. It's my favorite of all Sabbath albums. My dad showed me the original stuff later and I loved that too. If Iommi and Geezer are on the same song, it tends to be a great damn song, and I can't pick personally between the two major eras.
    dennis.1960
    I agree completely, everyone raves about how "Heaven and Hell" is so amazing, but the only song I like is "Neon Knights", the rest just sounds like boring, generic metal to me (and I'm a big fan of original Sabbath).
    jbyungwoo
    funny, Neon Knights is my least favorite because for me it's the generic metal song
    DexterF
    "2 of their best albums"?!? Do you have special editions of these that have a "boring" gate effect over them?
    flaphead325
    Is Mob Rules borinng to you? Are Voodoo and Lady Evil boring ? Or even I from dehumanizer? I think it completes the Black Sabbath discography, because as much as I love the original line up, Ozzy had hard time singing a different line than the lyrics, I give you Doom sounding and cult songs. On the other hand Dio is a great singer because he brings he's own melodies and he's personnal lyrics (Ozzy barelly wrote anything, Geezer did). The albums they released with Dio have a so good reputation since they are well produced and with a brand new artistic direction. I don't really like their quiet songs, but I hate ballads in general... If what I said doesn't ring a bell I'd advice you to listen to the live at the radio city music hall, released recently by Heaven and hell (contractual name for the line up with dio)
    DexterF
    Indeed, I find "Mob Rules" utterly boring. And while Dio had a great voice it did not fit Sabbath and I wanted the doom and cult. If I want something that sounds like Thin Lizzy - I frigging play Thin Lizzy.
    Pink Led Rush
    The Dio era break up after Live Evil and again after Dehumanizer was arguably worse.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    totally and then black sabbath began a terrible downward spiral.
    Pink Led Rush
    Not really imo, Sabbath continued on with stellar musicians and made really great music still, just not quite as popular as having Ozzy or Dio fronting.
    gray96
    Yeah, and then they got back together as Heaven & Hell and were as good as ever.
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    not rock but N.W.A. had one of the ugliest breakups of all time. So many diss tracks.
    Vicryl 2.0
    i remember one of them said that those diss tracks made them survive with their solo careers because people were always curious about what would they say. so it could also be a marketing ploy..
    LeakyFlask
    Dead Kennedys, but that's mostly the post-breakup.
    flaphead325
    Yeah the problem is mostly the reformed Dead Kennedys by East Bay Ray releasing a song named MP3 get off the air...
    KerNeL_KLuTcH
    that's just jello not growing up from his 18 year old angsty/anarcho-leftist views.
    LeakyFlask
    Politically Jello is nowhere near an anarchist. He still has a lot of very good things to say, and believes in doing something that matters. You should try to listen to him.
    Camron62\m/
    yeah, i was expecting to see Pantera in here, and Guns 'n Roses at #1. black Sabbath fits the top spot though, considering everything that has happened.
    XahXhaX
    Should we think hard about this? Or just name the few most recent that come to mind? And I think I saw an episode of Behind the Music that said The Eagles were pissed. That makes five!
    LostLegion
    The Beatles wasn't ugly.
    rockczar
    no paul wanted linda to manage them (or was it be their accountant?) and john wanted someone else...and it did get really ugly
    Bonscott4ever
    Paul wanted Linda's dad to manage them. John, George and Ringo wanted Alan Kline, who managed the Rolling Stones at that point. John convinced the others that if Mr. Eastman managed the band, then Paul would have more control over the band because was married to Linda.
    dannydesktop
    I would put Guns n Roses as number 1 on this list. There the only band on there that didn't out live their relevancy and broke up at their peak.
    gray96
    What about Sepultura, especially in regards to breaking up at their peak? I feel like no one remembers them except me.
    dannydesktop
    that's because relatively to guns n roses their not well known and less people care, the guns n roses break up is 95% more public and people are more well aware of the bad blood of the band. I'm not a fan of gnr anyway but i think they should have come out number 1 on here i mean at least most of these other bands got back together.
    gray96
    Well, they definitely are far more famous than Sepultura, but isn't it basically the stereotypical breakup? You know, drugs and inner tensions? Correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm not a Guns N' Roses fan.
    LazyHardRocker
    5. Metallica& Dave Mustaine 4. Metallica& Jason Newsted 3. AC/DC& Phil Rudd (seriously, Phil and Malcolm were drunk/high and started a fist fight) 2. Van Halen during almost every line-up change 1. Guns n' Roses
    Jazz1992
    What's so bad about the Metallica& Jason Newsted thing? Jason just left after a band meeting. No fighting, no hate, they even remained good friends after that.
    rockczar
    jason wanted to have more input in the writing and james and lars werent having it
    Jimmyboba
    I'd call that creative differences, not a messy break-up. I'm too young to remember but I'm pretty sure there wasn't a huge war against each other in the media.
    Nitnatsnok
    Deep Purple Mark II line up is a pretty ugly break up. They still have hard feelings about it.
    Clarkinator
    Not sure if the Beatles qualifies as "ugly" when a lot of the members worked with each other after the breakup. They all helped Starr get his solo career going, Harrison played in Lennon's Plastic Ono band, etc. Hell, in a Beatles documentary I watched, it sounded like John and Paul eventually burried the hatchet and considered reuniting and making music together again. Also, what are the odds Oasis reforms soon. Can you really take a Gallagher brothers breakup that seriously? How many times have they done this?
    dennis.1960
    John & Paul may have buried the hatchet, but an ugly part of the Beatles breakup was animosity between George and Paul. You could see it in their argument in the "Let it Be" film. Late 90's, Paul would talk about reforming and George always issued the same comment about how "It won't be the Beatles without John". I don't think George & Paul ever did anything together after the breakup.
    kirisu7egomen4
    yes they did
    dennis.1960
    What did Paul & George they do together?
    kirisu7egomen4
    lets not forget abour free as a bird and real love which macca and harrison were both involved with
    kirisu7egomen4
    they did lots of stuff together most notably paul doing backing vocals on all those years ago and they were the two that stayed the best friends out of the four members
    GaryBillington
    Agreed. My money is on a reformation after they've both done a couple of solo albums.
    Clarkinator
    I think they'll realize that working together = more people listening and buying their records, bigger shows, and more money. If they reform, it'll be a big story and people will be interested. Maybe not as big had this all gone down in 1996, but still. I read once, can't remember where, that Noel has been accused of being pretty cunning in regards to playing the media and driving tabloid coverage of the band. I think the breakup is obviously legit, but in the past he played things up for more coverage.
    jacobdubya
    This is a dumb list. Queensryche at number 2? Really? UG only put it there because it's still recent, and it's not even really a break up. It was the lead singer getting the axe and being a cry baby about it and yelling "Mine!" That does not constitute an ugly break-up. I'm surprised no one has said the Sex Pistols. That's one of the ugliest break-ups I've ever heard of. The band went on their first U.S. tour often playing shows intentionally booked by their manager to hostile, redneck audiences who hated them, fights between the band and audience breaking out often, Sid Vicious disappearing on heroin binges and being found in the hospital, and finally the band breaking up mid-tour and leaving John Lydon stranded in the U.S. with no money to get home. There's more details than that and it's pretty damn ugly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_Pistols... d_the_end_of_the_band
    Smeagl
    The Fall? Come on, they fight on stage, Mark E. Smith was arrested. You cant ignore this:
    Uber-rocker
    The Stone Roses...?? A long, slow death and then 15 years of them flinging shit at each other..
    gray96
    That is true, but they just reunited. I think that a breakup is only truly bad if the band never really recovers from it, you know?