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 411mania » Music » Columns

The 8 Ball 04.13.13: The Top 8 Rock Feuds
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 04.13.2013

Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Music Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!

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Top 8 Rock Feuds

There's only one thing that popular music artists are better at than creating iconic works that stand the test of time: fighting with each other. Feuds in music are almost as prevalent as the music itself, and rock music in particular has seen some doozies during its time. As many here on 411mania know, WrestleMania 29 just ended and so the idea of feuds and battles has been on all of our minds lately. That brings us to this week's 8 Ball; I decided that this would be a good time to look at the greatest feuds in music, starting this week with rock and moving onto rap next week.

Caveat: A couple quick notes. First, for criteria here I was looking at the most significant and noteworthy feuds in rock, not necessarily my "favorite." I'm not the kind of person who regularly takes pleasure in the hatred of others, so I can't say that there are many feuds out there that I have liked, though there are a couple exceptions. Second, I was looking very specifically at rock music and thus I left a lot of potential pop, country and of course rap feuds out of the list. I also tried to distinguish the difference between a "feud" (where things get personal) and a "rivalry" (where it is purely professional). As an example, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones had a rivalry--one that the media desperately wanted to be a feud--but it never really got personal between them. And finally, let's be frank: a lot of feuds are manufactured for the sake of publicity. Courtney Love is a big offender on this particular mark as she tries to start up feuds for headlines and always falls short. So to summarize I was looking for legitimate long-standing disagreements between artists where things got intensely personal and were significant and noteworthy.

Just Missing The Cut

Journey and Steve Perry
Brian Wilson vs. The Beach Boys
Simon and Garfunkel
The Everly Brothers
Paul McCartney vs. Michael Jackson

#8: Courtney Love vs. Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic

As I said in the caveat, Courtney Love has a long-standing history of trying to manufacture her own feuds for publicity purposes. That being said, there was nothing manufactured about the enmity between Love and the former members of her late husband's band. Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl were never on particularly good terms with Love, though things were at least amicable enough following Cobain's suicide in 1994 that the trio was able to form an LLC in 1997 in order to oversee all projects related to Nirvana. However, animosity between Love and the other two ballooned and things quickly began to fall apart; Love began to make comments about how Kurt was Nirvana and Grohl and Novoselic were "just sidemen"; Grohl fired back when he went onto Howard Stern and, when asked what his favorite song of Love's was, answered "'Teenage Whore.' Because I know she wrote it." The LLC was dissolved in 2001 amidst lawsuits galore and although a settlement saw the release of the Nirvana compilation album in 2002 and boxed set in 2004, the feud still kicks up whenever Love feels insecure. She has accused Grohl of hitting on Frances Bean Cobain because he was "sexually obsessed" with Kurt (which both Grohl and Frances Bean denied), said she wanted Grohl "ass-raped" and accused both Grohl and Novoselic of "stealing money" from her among a laundry list of other accusations. Grohl and Novoselic have handled things fairly maturely and outside of a few choice comments and a couple of songs here and there, they've come out looking like roses while Love looks like the train wreck that she is.

#7: Noel Gallagher vs. Liam Gallagher

Oh, the Gallagher brothers. Long-time readers know I love poking fun at these guys; for a long time I had a running feature of the "Crazy Gallagher Quote of the Week" and I generally consider Oasis to be a decent-but-overrated band. That being said, few feuds have been as personal and violent in rock music as the battle between Noel and Liam, who have to my count committed what could be considered multiple felony assault charges against each other. During the siblings' heyday in Oasis, their battles were legendary and often eclipsed the success of their music. Their various assaults of each other are too much to reach, but here are some highlights: in 1994 during their first American tour, Liam decided to start changing the lyrics to their songs so that both Noel and concert-goers in America would find them offense; that led to a chair being thrown and blows being exchanged to the point that Noel left the tour. Liam also got pissed at Noel during the same tour and in the middle of a show in Los Angeles he turned and hit Noel over the head with his tambourine. In 2002, the group was touring Barcelona when a drunk Liam threw slurs at Noel's wife at the time and suggested that Noel's daughter Anais was not legitimate, which made Noel headbutt Liam. That's just three at random. The whole thing seemingly came to a head when the group broke up in 2009 due to the brothers' inability to get along; Noel went his own way and Liam formed Beady Eye. The Gallaghers still take shots at each other from time to time with no sense of civility. They're pretty much rock music's Cain and Abel, just one step short of actual murder at this point.

#6: David Lee Roth vs. Van Halen

Van Halen has often seemed to me to be the Highlander of rock bands; in terms of frontmen, there can be only one. The hard rock group became a household name in the early 1980s with flamboyant frontman David Lee Roth at the microphone and on the strength of stratosphere-reaching hits like "Runnin' with the Devil," "Jump" and "Hot For Teacher" there were few people in the genre who could even dream of matching their commercial success. However, as the band's star grew ever higher dissension was tearing them apart. Roth's attitude and over-the-top antics had Eddie Van Halen pissed off and Roth was reportedly livid over Eddie playing music outside of Van Halen without getting the band's permission. In addition, Roth's solo career was taking off and so he left the band. Van Halen then took Sammy Hagar as its frontman and things were golden--at least, if you didn't listen to the constant verbal barbs the two sides kept spitting at each other. Roth compared Hagar to the second Darrin on Bewitched and said that unlike Hagar, he would never have to sing any of the other's songs. Hagar was gone from the band in 1996 and it seemed like the original band would get back together, which Roth alluded to at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. The band then kicked Roth out again after he claimed it was all a publicity stunt against him because they were auditioning other lead singers; the band claimed they never promised that he was guaranteed the spot. More fighting went back and forth and the group even briefly reunited with Hagar before the stars aligned and Roth rejoined the band in 2008. I'm still waiting for them to break up again, because it's about that time for them to do so. It's just how it goes with them.

#5: Pink Floyd and Roger Waters

Lawsuits over intellectual rights are a common thing these days; Queensryche is locked in a rather nasty one right now over the rights to the band name and as such, there are actually two Queensryches releasing music right now. But in 1987 it wasn't nearly as common. That's what made it so shocking when Roger Waters made his feud with the other members of Pink Floyd a legal one, and a vicious one at that. Waters had left the prog rock group in 1986 following a breaking point in tensions between the band members; Waters asked for a release from his contract from EMI and Columbia and filed a request with the High Court to prevent the remaining band members from using the name. David Gilmour, who had taken up the band's reins, said the band would go on and referred to Waters as a "dog in a manger." Waters' complaint was that by not making new music the band would be in breach of contract which would cause royalties to stop coming in, and that he was forced out of the group. Things got particularly rough when Gilmour and company tried to tour in the US and Waters threatened lawsuits against US promoters if they tried to promote concerts with the Pink Floyd name. The two sides argued over every aspect of the band's intellectual property from music and the name to the logo. While a legal agreement was reached that gave Gilmour and company the likeness and name rights while Waters got rights to The Wall, hard feelings remained for many years until they finally mended fences in the mid-2000s. Still, it is undeniable that the battle largely contributed to the death of one of the greatest prog rock groups of all time.

#4: Metallica vs. Megadeth

Megadeth or Metallica? That question was the dividing line among metalheads in the mid '80s. It was one of those things that could start some pretty nasty arguments; it seemed that for most people, you could only be a fan of one of the two bands and whichever you liked more, that was "your band." It's funny to consider when Megadeth's entire existence is because Metallica fired Dave Mustaine just before the recording of their debut album in 1983 and flew in Kirk Hammett to replace him. The band members said the sacking was due to Mustaine's excessive use of drugs and alcohol that was having a negative effect on the band. Mustaine never forgot this and he founded a short-lived band called Fallen Angels before he created the group that would become Megadeth. With Mustaine on vocals, the band was pretty much set up as a rival to Metallica and the two acts became among the most popular in heavy metal. Both sides sent some harsh words the other's way throughout the years and although Megadeth opened for Metallica on a few occasions, things were never copacetic between them. The situation had largely run its course before the 2004 Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster kicked it back up again by examining the feud. Lars Ulrich and Mustaine traded shots back and forth for another six years until the "Big Four" tour, when the two sides finally worked things out and shared a stage.

#3: Oasis vs. Blur

Yes, I usually try to keep these to one selection per artist but you really can't underestimate the strength of the Oasis/Blur feud. Britpop exploded in the 1990s and was pretty much everywhere; no two bands were more famous coming out of that particular wave of the British invasion than Oasis and Blur. The two sides of this feud came about because of several factors. There was the class difference; Oasis came from a working-class background while Damon Albarn and company had a more middle-class art-school background, which didn't make coming to an understanding between them easy. There were also the notorious egos of the two groups and the positioning of two against each other by a British press that was hoping for this to be the feud that Stones vs. Beatles never was. And the press got what they wanted, as the two sides took incredibly nasty shots at each other. The highlight (lowlight?) was when Noel said in 1996 that he hoped Albarn and Alex James would "catch AIDS and die." The bands battled both on the charts and in the headlines throughout the Britpop craze and even after a member of one side would usually take a shot at the other. Noel and Albarn recently settled their differences over a couple beers, but as we well know that's far from a permanent cease-fire where the Gallaghers are concerned; they start more fights with beer involved than they settle.

#2: Axl Rose vs. Slash

The battle between Axl Rose and Slash is absolutely legendary. It is one of the few feuds that anyone who is a fan of rock and roll has been very aware of at one time or another. The former Guns N' Roses bandmates have been at each others' throats for years leading up to and following Slash's departure from the group in 1996. It's understandable on Slash's part; Rose is a notoriously difficult man to deal with and he has an ego that just screams fragile. The tension began when the group was still together over creative differences and Rose's antics; it reached a fever pitch when Rose brought in Paul Huge to play rhythm guitar on "Sympathy For the Devil" for the Interview with the Vampire soundtrack because Slash disliked Huge and felt he wasn't good enough for the band. After Slash left, things took a vicious turn. Rose vowed to continue on by taking the Guns N' Roses name and putting it on a new band while Slash went off and did solo work as well as Velvet Revolver; both would bitch about the other from time to time. Things hit their height in 2010 when Rose called Slash a "cancer" in Rolling Stone and said, "better removed, avoided and the less anyone heard of him or his supporters, the better." Slash retorted that it was a low blow, considering that he had lost his mother to cancer shortly before. The two (along with the rest of the original lineup) nearly got together for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year but Axl had another tantrum and refused to show. I doubt they will ever share a stage together again.

#1: The Beatles

There have been much nastier feuds in rock and roll than that between the Beatles, but few have been as significant to rock music. The Fab Four were without any doubt the biggest band in the world before they dissolved in 1970 and that dissolution was bigger news than any breakup in the history of popular music. Many, many factors came into play; many blamed Lennon's wife Yoko Ono for causing dissension but that has been denied by all parties involved. The truth of the matter is that the group was just going in very different directions and the breakdown in the personal relationship between Lennon and Paul McCartney was something that the band couldn't sustain. Things never quite got back to good with them; McCartney and Lennon became amicable but never really got close again before Lennon's murder in 1980 and while Lennon was friendly with Starr, Harrison and he had issues on several occasions. Following Lennon's death legal and financial issues kept hard feelings between the surviving three; McCartney refused to join Starr and Harrison for the Beatles' Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. It is only over the last several years that the many sides came together and Ringo and Paul remain good friends (Harrison died in 2001). The group was contentious and drama-filed for decades after their dissolution and it remains the most significant feud in rock history.


The subject of week's Music Video A-Go-Go is a brand new...no, it's Garfunkel and Oates again. I can keep this up forever! Check out the fact-based ditty "Go Kart Racing (Accidentally Masturbating)":

And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.


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