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Top Five Feuds Between Rock Band Members

Much like a family, members of rock bands don’t always see eye to eye and often aren’t shy about venting their feelings and frustrations towards each other.

Since the late 1960s, there have been plenty of in-band feuds that have gained headlines. Here are the top five feuds between members of the biggest rock bands in the world.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

Jagger and Richards have been at odds since the mid 1970s, but things really came to head in the 1980s when the Glimmer Twins barely talked to each other and the Rolling Stones nearly broke up for good after releasing Dirty Workin 1986.

That’s because Mick reneged on his promise to tour behind the album, angering Richards.

At the time the two didn’t share the same vision for the direction of the Rolling Stones, especially Mick, who wanted to distance himself from the band and focus on his solo work and touring.

Richards was pissed Mick wanted to become a pop star outside of the band, and did some solo work of his own, taking shots at Jagger in the process with a song off his Talk Is Cheap record called “You Don’t Move Me” with lyrics directed squarely at Jagger.

But the two, for the greater good of the band and no doubt the money, got it together to record and tour for 1989’s Steel Wheels album.

Interestingly, on “Mixed Emotions”, Richards maintains he sings “Mick’s Demotions” during the chorus.

And, just when the two had been regularly recording and touring, the dormant feud erupted again when Richards took a shot at Jagger’s “tiny dodger” in his 2010 memoir Life.

Mick wasn’t amused and demanded – and got – an apology from Richards. In that same book, Richards sums up his long relationship with Jagger: “How can you describe a relationship that goes that far back? Best friends are best friends. Brothers fight.”

Liam and Noel Gallagher

The English brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher have no doubt been at each other’s throats since they were kids, but as members of Oasis from 1991-2009, they engaged in one of the nastiest, most physical feuds ever by band members, most of them alcohol fueled. On their first tour of the U.S. in 1994, band vocalist Liam got a kick out of changing various song lyrics so they were derogatory to both Americans and his brother. This didn’t sit well with Noel, who tossed a chair at his brother after one concert and a major brawl followed.

Then, while recording their second album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, the brothers got involved in another brouhaha, this time with a cricket bat being used as a weapon after Liam invited everyone from the pub back into the studio while Noel was trying to work. This became the norm for the feuding siblings until 2009, when Noel finally had had enough. After yet another physical altercation with Liam, the band cancelled a show at the last minute on Aug. 28, 2009 in Paris. That night, Noel confirmed he was leaving the band because he “simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.”

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Roger Waters and David Gilmour

Far more tame physically than the Gallagher brothers’ feud, the animosity between Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters and guitarist David Gilmour was more a beef about power within Pink Floyd than anything else. After reaching the top of the mountain with “Dark Side of the Moon”, Waters began to take more control in terms of the band’s songwriting and indeed, wrote most of the material from Animals, The Wallthrough The Final Cut. In the process, Water was writing darker, more political material. Waters argues Gilmour wasn’t bringing any songs to the table, so he wrote the tracks, getting publishing royalties in the process – more than Gilmour was taking in.

The band broke up after the Final Cut and, in 1985, Waters famously declared Pink Floyd was a “spent force creatively” and left the band. Gilmour, who wanted to keep Pink Floyd going, won a lengthy legal battle (Waters wanted to completely dissolve the band) to carry on under the Pink Floyd brand, releasing two so-so albums 1987’s Momentary Lapse of Reason and 1994’s The Division Bell.

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Axl Rose and Slash

The two most prominent members of Guns ‘N Roses have mended their fences for the current reunion tour, but there was 20 years of animosity between the two after Slash left the band in 1996. In his 2007 biography, Slash stated he left Guns ‘N Roses because of Rose’s constant lateness to concerts, the alleged legal manipulation Rose used (since denied by Rose) to gain control of the band, and the departures of original drummer Steven Adler and guitarist Izzy Stradlin.

For his part, Rose stoked the fire with some nasty words in a 2009 interview, saying “Personally I consider Slash a cancer and better removed, avoided — and the less anyone heard of him or his supporters, the better.” No doubt Rose knew Slash had lost his mother to cancer and the comments didn’t sit well with the guitarist.

Rose also told Billboard in 2009 (when there was talk of a GNR reunion back then): “What’s clear is that one of the two of us will die before a reunion and however sad, ugly or unfortunate anyone views it, it is how it is.”

Looks like a lot of dollar bills have soothed any lingering acrimony between Slash and Rose. We’ll hold our breath as to whether or not they record another GNR record together.

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John Lennon and Paul McCartney

The two best known members of the Beatles saw cracks in their writing partnership emerging after Beatles manager Brian Epstein died suddenly in 1967. After that it was a slow dissolution of the Lennon/McCartney partnership that included Lennon feeling like his songs weren’t getting their due over McCartney’s tracks. McCartney noted he and Lennon were openly critical of each other’s songs around the Abbey Road sessions. Also McCartney wanted to tour with the band again, but Lennon wanted none of it and he was tiring of McCartney’s bossiness in the studio. These things, and others (Yoko Ono), created friction that ended with Lennon leaving the band in 1969.

But the Lennon/McCartney feud didn’t end when the Beatles broke up. They wrote songs on their solo albums taking jabs at each other.

Lennon’s Imagine album has a song called “How Do You Sleep?”, which is directed squarely at McCartney with lyrics like “You live with straights who tell you was king. Jump when your momma tell you anything. The only thing you done was yesterday. And since you’re gone you’re just another day. A pretty face may last a year or two. But pretty soon they’ll see what you can do. The sound you make is muzak to my ears. You must have learned something in all those years.”

McCartney took a shot at Lennon and Yoko Ono on the track “Too Many People” from the Ram record. The lyrics “Too many people preaching practices” and “You took your lucky break and broke it in two” are directed at Lennon.

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Check out more of Cam Maxwell’s Rock ‘N Roll Insight.

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