Hit Makers

It's amazing what a scuffle can do for a rocker's career

Rock stars love to fight each other -- not just battles of words, but honest-to-goodness physical beatdowns -- almost as much as they love to snort drugs, hump groupies, cash fat checks from the record label, and, oh yeah, write songs. We're reminded of this fact because Scott Stapp (the now-solo singer best known as the bombastic buffoon behind Creed) and 311 (the L.A.-via-Nebraska band that helped pioneer rap-rock . . . thanks, guys) -- combatants in one of the more recent and compelling spectacles of rock 'n' roll pugilism -- are both coming to town this month to play shows (albeit two weeks apart, sadly, for those of you pining for a rematch).

For anyone who wasn't paying attention (what, you have a life?), their altercation went down like this: Last Thanksgiving Day, 311 members S.A. Martinez, Chad Sexton, and P-Nut were chillin' in the bar of a fancy Baltimore hotel, watching a basketball game on TV, when in walked Stapp. Though well-known for his love of Jesus, Stapp's love of liquor apparently overrode that whole "blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God" thing. According to the 311 camp, the already inebriated Stapp started doing shots and breaking shot glasses on the bar, began threatening various patrons, sat down next to Martinez's wife, and directed a "disrespectful, crude remark" toward her. After allegedly announcing, "311, I am ready to fight," he then punched Sexton in the face; an all-out brawl ensued, during which Martinez fractured his knuckle.

For his part, Stapp claimed he didn't instigate the fight, but he did enter rehab shortly afterward. And while his clean shot to Sexton's face, as well as Martinez's injury, suggests Stapp won on points, his status as one of rock's heavyweight douchebags subsequently shot through the roof, making one wonder, was he really the victor? And where does "The War in Baltimore" rank on the all-time list of rock bouts? While you ponder those questions, let's review some of the more memorable fights in rock music history:

Sometimes the passion outruns the music, and then the beatdown goes on.
Mark Poutenis
Sometimes the passion outruns the music, and then the beatdown goes on.

The Detroit Garage Barrage (2003)
In this corner: White Stripes front man Jack White
And in this corner: Von Bondies front man Jason Stollsteimer
Let's get ready to rumble: After catching wind that his friend and past musical collaborator Stollsteimer was talking shit about him in the 'hood, White confronted the Von Bondies singer in a Detroit nightclub. Words were exchanged, White spat on Stollsteimer, and then the action began -- Stollsteimer claimed White, unprovoked, pummeled his face repeatedly, while White said Stollsteimer grabbed him, pulled him down, and yanked out a bunch of his hair. Stollsteimer's face indeed looked like lasagna in photos sent to the media in the days after the fight, but White insisted Stollsteimer wasn't actually hurt that badly, and was exploiting the incident to boost Von Bondies album sales.
Your winner: Jack White

Battle of the Riot Grrls (1995)
In this corner: Hole singer Courtney Love
And in this corner: Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna
Let's get ready to rumble: Several years of animosity between Love and Hanna boiled over at the first date of the 1995 Lollapalooza tour, when the pair came face to face with each other backstage during Sonic Youth's set. After Hanna allegedly made a remark regarding Kurt Cobain and drug use (Hanna was a pre-Courtney pal of Kurt's, even inspiring the title of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"), Love flicked a lighted cigarette at Hanna, threw a bunch of candy at her, and then slugged her in the head. At the next day's show, her hand bandaged up, Love explained to the crowd, "I punched some bitch in the face last night." Hanna pressed assault charges; Love eventually pleaded guilty and had to get anger-management counseling.
Your winner: Courtney Love

Good Vs. Evil (2004)
In this corner: Glenn Danzig
And in this corner: North Side Kings singer Danny Marianino
Let's get ready to rumble: Upset that his band had gotten bumped from a multi-group bill in Tuba City headlined by Danzig, Marianino confronted the musclebound rock demon backstage, demanding to know what happened. As a highly enjoyable video clip widely circulated on the Internet showed, Danzig responded by shouting, "Fuck you, motherfucker!" and attempting to shove the burly NSK singer; Marianino returned the favor by clocking Danzig with one fearsome punch, knocking out the "Prince of Darkness."
Your winner: Danny Marianino

No Pity in New York City (1976)
In this corner: Transsexual punk-rock singer Wayne County
And in this corner: Dictators singer "Handsome" Dick Manitoba
Let's get ready to rumble: Drunk on whiskey during County's performance at CBGB, Manitoba called County a "homo" as he passed the front of the stage on his way to the restroom. County responded by smashing Manitoba's head with the microphone stand, setting off a huge donnybrook. Manitoba was taken to a local hospital where he received numerous stitches and was treated for a broken collarbone.
Your winner: Wayne County

The Melee in L.A. (1978)
In this corner: Tom Waits
And in this corner: Nickey Beat, drummer for L.A. punks The Bags
Let's get ready to rumble: After hearing that Waits had been flirting with his girlfriend, Bags singer Alice Bag, and had asked her who her "dipshit" boyfriend was, Beat grabbed the microphone during a show at the Troubadour and called Waits -- who was sitting at a table near the stage -- either an "asshole" or a "bloody cunt." After the show, the club's bouncers locked the doors and said no one could leave until Waits and Beat settled the matter with a showdown. According to witness (and singer) Chuck E. Weiss, "It was like watching two girls fight, pulling hair and open-hand slapping."
Your winner: Draw

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