Ahh, who doesn’t like a spectacular band bust up? They’ve had it all – fame, success, money and screaming fans. Wouldn’t you think they’d be as happy as you can get? Nope – despite having it all, there’s a little problem – they all hate each other. They’ve got massive egos, and may have been mired in battles with their record company, or their manager has ripped them off; so off come the gloves and they have a spectacular falling out. While fans are devastated at the news, we can’t help but be amused as they embark upon solo careers or join other bands and spend the next few years slagging each other off in interviews. Join us as we count down our favourite band bust ups.
The New York Dolls may be touring again with two original members, but back in the 1970s the volatile band had the misfortune of being managed by Malcolm McLaren, who used the lessons he learned from the Dolls when it came to putting together the Sex Pistols. The band foundered as Jerry Nolan and Johnny Thunders quit amongst rampant drug abuse during a disastrous tour of Florida. Sylvain Sylvain and David Johansen limped on with a watered down version of the band to complete the tour but wisely decided to pull the pin on the band shortly afterwards.
The Libertines bust up was preceded by Pete Doherty burgling band mate Carl Barât’s flat – for which he was jailed and the former’s increasing crack cocaine and heroin addictions. Despite efforts to get him clean, Doherty as forced to leave The Libertines to become a full time junkie while the band struggled on without him using a session muso fill in. The Libertines decided to call it quits before reforming to play the Reading and Leeds festivals last year for megabucks, before promptly splitting up again.
The pressures of being in one of the biggest bands in the UK were compounded by Johnny Marr’s disillusionment with the band and increasing drug and alcohol problems amongst various members. Marr walked out of the band leading to it imploding in 1987, and Morrissey and Marr have spent the following 24 years taking pot shots at each other in the press, along with rhythm section of Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke suing Morrissey over royalties in the mid 1990s.
Being managed by Malcolm McLaren was going to ensure that The Sex Pistols were certain to self combust. After an exhaustive and chaotic tour across America’s Deep South, the band were struggling with McLaren’s puppetmaster tactics and Sid Vicious’ heroin addiction, not to mention being chased by the media and authorities hoping for them to put a foot wrong. Fittingly, they imploded on stage at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, with Johnny Rotten asking the crowd ‘Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?’ before throwing down the mic for the final time.
They might be back together for the money these days, but make no mistake – Kim Deal and Black Francis still hate each other and travel separately. This stems back to the band’s initial split in 1993 in which Francis told a BBC Radio interviewer that the band was over, rather than on hiatus – unbeknownst to the rest of the band. He later informed Deal and drummer Dave Lovering of this fact by fax.
Drugs, the pressures of fame and the usual intra band tensions were at the heart of another classic band meltdown. Drummer Topper Headon was kicked out of the band before the release of Combat Rock in 1982, while after the tour for the album, Joe Strummer sacked Mick Jones from the band. They struggled on with session musos but after poor reviews for the following album Cut The Crap, Strummer dissolved the band.
A protracted contractual dispute led to a five year gap between the release of The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut and second album Second Coming, with cocaine addiction and intra band conflict leading to drummer Reni leaving as the album came out. Guitarist John Squire quit after the following tour, leading to the band playing an ignominious swansong amongst much acrimony from at the Reading Festival before promptly disbanding. EDITORS NOTEThe band are now back together!
New Order have gone one better than many bands – they’ve split up twice! The band have always had fraught relationships between members and few people thought that they’d reform after the band went on a drug enforced hiatus in 1993. However, they managed to kiss and make up in 1998 to play more gigs and record another two albums before an acrimonious split again in 2007 which has seen the mudslinging between Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner reach epic proportions over the last four years.
Perhaps setting the benchmark standard in recent times for band bust ups, the notoriously volatile relationship between the Gallagher brothers has seen dozens of bust ups between them over the years and numerous band walk outs. It all came to a head for a supposed final time, however when after a backstage altercation in Paris in 2009 during which Liam allegedly questioned the legitimacy of his brother’s parenthood, Noel Gallagher walked out declaring the band really over this time.
Perhaps the most influential band break up of all time, The Beatles bust up was a long protracted event, beginning with their cessation of touring in 1966 and the death of manager Brian Epstein in 1967 which saw all four members pitted against each other in financial and legal disputes. Ringo Starr and George Harrison both walked out temporarily during 1967 – 8, but it was Lennon’s publicly unacknowledged departure in 1969 that was the catalyst for the final break up. The other band members and fans blamed his relationship with Yoko Ono in part for the breakup, but it was Paul McCartney’s decision to release a solo album in 1970 and publicly announce his departure from the band that was the final nail in the coffin.