Even the greatest bands have to call it quits at some point. Some of them do it more gracefully than other, but it’s way more fun when a band completely implodes and airs their dirty laundry for all to see.
Here are 10 of the ugliest band breakups in history.
While most breakups drag on for a long time behind the scenes before becoming public, it was pretty easy to see it all coming for Blink. After their initial “indefinite hiatus” in 2005, it took one of their members (Travis Barker) nearly dying in a plane crash to get the band back together. Earlier this year, Barker and Mark Hoppus decided they’d had enough of Tom DeLonge and kicked him out of the band. Then they went on to air all of their grievances in a couple of interviews (which is allegedly how DeLonge learned he’d been booted), and played some shows with Matt Skiba taking DeLonge’s place.
9. The Clash
Like any great rock band with multiple super-talented members, the Clash put out a handful of great albums before Mick Jones and Joe Strummer began to hate each other. It took almost five years, but members of the Clash left one at a time (for reasons ranging from drug problems to “artistic differences”) until eventually the band was a shell of its former self and had to be dissolved entirely. Sure, they’d get back together (kind of), but they were no longer “The Only Band That Matters.”
8. Smashing Pumpkins
Does it really count as a breakup when the band is centered around a single person? It does if things get as nasty as they got with the Pumpkins. Maybe Billy Corgan is just impossible to work with, or maybe they just never got the chemistry exactly figured out, but when the band initially broke up after multiple drug-related issues, insults and rumors flew around like a couple going through a nasty divorce. Even after Corgan “reformed” the band, no one seemed to have anything nice to say about anyone else.
What happens after two guys from Atlanta put out the best-selling hip-hop album of all time? They put out a kind of weird movie/album combo and then part ways. They still collaborated on a handful of songs post-breakup, but it’s become painfully clear over the years that the two have some major issues that might require couples’ therapy (or some more public bashing in interviews). Instead of playing another reunion tour of soulless festival shows, maybe it’s best for Big Boi and Andre 3000 just to go their separate ways and leave Outkast’s legacy untarnished.
6. Van Halen
Considering how many classic rock bands have great breakup stories, it takes quite the implosion for a band to stand out from the rest. Van Halen managed to do that, although not all at once. When your band is centered around a wildly talented guitarist, you can afford to change singers and bassists once in a while, but that doesn’t mean you should do it constantly. Like a bad relationship, Van Halen went through ugly breakup after ugly breakup (and some half-hearted reunions) with their various frontmen and bassists, including David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, and probably some guys who came out of the crowd to fill in for everyone.
5. Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine, one of the angriest political bands of all time, wasn’t angry and political enough for Zack de la Rocha, so he angrily and politically quit. The good news, the rest of the band went on to form Audioslave with Chris Cornell, but let’s not forget that de la Rocha allegedly considered moving to Cuba after the band’s split.
We’re guessing that family dinners at the Gallagher house are more than a little awkward these days. It’s bad enough when two bandmates hate each other from the bottom of their hearts, but it’s even worse when they’re actual brothers. It’s probably pretty safe to say that Liam and Noel Gallagher won’t be getting back together anytime soon.
3. Guns n’ Roses
The rock ‘n’ roll breakup of all rock ‘n’ roll breakups. Does this one even need to be explained? Axl Rose went off the deep end, everyone else left the band, and Axl gathered some random musicians a bunch of years later to “bring back” the band. GnR died in 1996, regardless of what concert promoters and Axl Rose want you to think.
One of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time also had one of the greatest breakups of all time. Although they initially took roughly 7 years off to do solo projects, it wasn’t the official end of the group. That occurred immediately following their reunion tour, when Lauryn Hill’s wide variety of problems caused Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel to say some absolutely ridiculous things about her. No, really, Google it. It’s pretty spectacular stuff.
When 99 percent of bands breakup, it’s because they hate each other. Swedish anti-capitalism hardcore band Refused certainly had their issues with lead singer Dennis Lyxzen, which likely lead to the breakup in the first place. But it wasn’t until they had their last gig broken up by police and then released a long-winded manifesto (titled “Refused Are Fucking Dead”) essentially saying that they hated all of their stupid fans and publicity that the breakup really hit legendary status. The band would later regroup, and they currently enjoy a bit of a cult following in the political hardcore scene, with Lyxzen cracking jokes and almost apologizing for saying things like all of their fans and newspapers burn all of their photos of Refused.
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