Working relationships can sometimes be tough, and in the music business it’s no different. In fact, when it comes to artists and their musical vision, it can get way out of hand, particularly with the extra focus of the music press. Ranging from the utterly ridiculous and childish to the straight up violent and scary, we take a look at the music industry’s biggest feuds.
The rivalry between Biggie and Tupac is undoubtedly the most infamous feud is musical history, primarily because both members ended up dead. The untimely murders of both Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (Notorious B.I.G) have never been solved, and both are shrouded in an impenetrable mist of conspiracy theories. The two rap superstars represented the polar opposites of nineties hip hop – one the elegant West Coast poet with the black panther heritage, the other the formidable East Coast gangsta with a history of crack dealing. What started as a war of words, with both artists including disses of each other in their respective albums, became violent when Tupac was murdered in a car in 1996, with Biggie meeting the same fate several months later.
This feud would be perhaps better described as ‘crazy lady consistently attacks drummer for no logical reason’ rather than a legitimate fight between two people. Love has admitted to calling Grohl’s bank and claiming he had died in a horrible plane wreck in order to gain the credit card details for Nirvana Inc. She’s also threatened to kill him via twitter after he supposedly hit on her daughter Frances Bean Cobain – something Frances herself has said is untrue – and Love has referred to the Nirvana drummer as a “piece of shit” in a newspaper interview, quite a departure from his other nickname, “the nicest man in rock.” Grohl has wisely mostly reacted to Love’s weirdness by ignoring her.
The Black Crowes were unceremoniously kicked off their support slot of ZZ Top’s 1991 tour after vocalist Chris Robinson launched into an anti-corporate- sponsor tirade during the gig – a little awkward considering the tour was sponsored by Miller Beer. The company predictably got a little pissed off, ZZ Top took the side of the people showering them with money, and that was the end of any friendship between the two bands.
It should have been a match made in heaven: Rotten the nihilistic young punk who, as vocalist of the Sex Pistols, would power a generation of angry Brits, and McLaren the organisational and sartorial mastermind who named him, dressed him and pushed him into music in the first place. We are talking about punk though, and the relationship between the two dissolved into petty fighting and the break-up of the band, that eventually went as far as the courtroom. However, despite their years of bickering, Lydon said upon the controversial manager’s death of cancer in 2010 that “I will miss him and so should you.” Touching.
Another case of one member being way more involved in the feud than the other, Guns ‘n’ Roses frontman Axl Rose seems to invest a lot of time and energy into hating axeman Slash, whilst Slash in contrast seems pretty happy to just play guitar with whoever. When the classic eighties metal band were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll hall of fame, Rose chose not to attend despite the rest of the bands’ willingness to play with him, and has referred to his former guitarist as a “cancer.” When not directing his irrational anger at Slash, Rose has also reportedly been involved in feuds with Motley Crue, the Offspring, Kurt Cobain, the Eagles of Death Metal, and the city of Montreal, just to name a few.
Hilariously captured for all to see on video, the feud between these two British heavyweights first broke out at GQs Man of the Year awards in 2008. In the footage, John decides to adopt a father role, chiding Allen for being (fairly obviously) drunk as they present the awards together on stage, to which she retorted with a jab about his age. All class, he then replied “I could still snort you under the table.” Allen then made a film clip which showed her kidnapping an Elton John lookalike and forcing him to declare his love for her, in the film clip for “Who’d Have Known.” All appears to be amicable between the pair now however, with John praising Allen’s decision to take on the Bridget Jones musical.
What has been described as the ‘Battle of Britpop’, these two British have made an indelible mark on contemporary music and caused many an argument. The feud between Oasis and Blue was at its height in the mid ‘90s with Oasis releasing their debut record Definitely Maybe the same year Blur released their break out third album Parklife . In what was largely constructed by the British music press both bands engaged in a battle for the title of Britpop supremacy, culminating in 1995 when both bands released singles from their latest records on the same day, with Blur taking out the mantle of the number one spot. While Oasis went on to become a more commercial success, Blur and more particularly frontman Damon Albarn have managed to remain far more relevant in today’s music scene.
Who would have thought Pamela Anderson could cause such a ruckus? Maybe she’s not a just a pretty face. At the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards In Las Vegas Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee and southern rapper Kid Rock engaged in a little man to man combat. It was reported that Kid Rock slapped Lee in the face before security pulled both men away from each other and were ejected from the Palms Casino. Rock was apparently confronting Lee because of emails he had sent from Ms Anderson’s phone whilst going through divorce proceedings with Rock. Let’s be honest, relationships can be tough especially when your ex-wife starts hooking up with her previous ex-husband, won’t somebody just think of the children?
Collaborating with other musicians can be a tricky task. Everyone has their visions and ideas about how things should be done, and more often than not there are major egos involved. For their latest record Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends the band chose a who’s who of modern musicians including R&B queen Erykah Badu. When it came to making the video for their track ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ things went a little pear shaped. Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne posted some risqué pictures of Badu on Twitter that featured her naked bar some blood-red paint and a bath full of glitter. Needless to say she wasn’t entirely happy and slammed Coyne in a lengthy Twitter rant calling him “self-serving” and “an ass”. To avoid any further kerfuffles the band re-shot the video with the slightly more liberal Amanda Palmer.
Both of these artists are infamous for being super, super weird. Stunts like wearing a dress made out of meat have made Lady Gaga’s eccentricities as well-known as her music, while a quick glance at any Die Antwoord clip will show you these aren’t your run-of-the-mill South African rap-ravers (if there is such a thing). However apparently the champions of ‘Zef’ style didn’t feel this gave them any common ground with the Mother Monster, and portrayed her giving birth to a prawn before being mauled to death by a lion in one of their film clips, for the song “Fatty Boom Boom.” Gaga responded less theatrically with a simple tweet, reading “I fink your freaky but you don’t have a hit. hundred thousand tickets sold in SA #thatsmyshit.” A tweet fight promptly ensued.
With the end of the Biggie and Tupac hip hop rivalry something seemed to take over the hip hop scene. With the New York scene looking for a replacement for the late Notorious B.I.G, a feud developed in the early 2000s between Jay-Z and Nas that began after Jay-Z used a sample from Nas track ‘The World Is Yours’ and invited him to appear on the track ‘Bring It On’. Nas never rocked up to the studio to play his part and the sample Jay-Z used was never properly credited. From there the feud became one of the most high profile in hip-hop with both artists continuing to insult each other on numerous albums. Despite talks and rumours of a live freestyle battle the dispute essentially ended in 2002, and finally in 2006 when Nas signed to Jay-Z’s label Def Jam.
Eminem could probably take up the majority of this list with his numerous feuds with other musicians and celebrities. After the release of The Marshall Mathers LP , which featured some fairly graphic lyrics, electronic music icon Moby spoke out against Eminem. He criticised him for his misogynistic and homophobic lyrics stating it was unacceptable. In typical style Eminem hit back in the track ‘Without Me’, with a homophobic slur at Moby inciting him to perform a less than desirable task on Eminem. It seems the heat from this battle has faded with time.
Considering the sort of things that have come out of Billy Corgan’s mouth it’s not surprising he wasn’t particularly impressed when on their 1994 album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain Pavement took a swing at Smashing Pumpkins. In their track ‘Range Life’ frontman Stephen Malkmus sings Out on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins / Nature kids, but they don’t have no function / I don’t understand what they mean and I could really give a fuck . According to Pavement Corgan blocked the band from being on the bill for Lollapalooza in 1994 and ended the feud by saying “people don’t fall in love to Pavement,” going on to say people put on Smashing Pumpkins because they’re a band that means something to people.
The battle for metal band supremacy between Megadeth and Metallica has a long history. Founder of Megadeth Dave Mustain was hired by Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield to play lead guitar in Metallica before the release of their first record. However due to what Metallica have sighted as drug and alcohol abuse, Mustain was kicked out of the band and replaced by Kirk Hammett. Mustain famously went on to form Megadeth and both bands are considering part of the ‘big four’ of metal, however it was Mustain’s heavy criticism of Hammett as a guitarist accusing him of stealing all of the lead guitar lines Mustain had previously written. In Metallica’s 2003 documentary ‘Some Kind Of Monster’ it featured an emotional meeting between Ulrich and Mustain where Mustain is visibly upset by revisiting the painful period for him.
In what seems to be all good-natured fun, a lyrical feud arose between Canadian singer songwriter Neil Young and southern American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. In two tracks from Neil Young’s record Harvest ‘Southern Man and ‘Alabama’, he implies that people living in the southern states of the US were racist and stuck in the past. In response to his lyrical statements Lynyrd Skynyrd released the now famous ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, a song about Southern pride that also featured the infamous lyric “I hope Neil Young will remember / A Southern man don't need him around anyhow.”
Toby Keith perhaps isn’t a name many Australian’s would be familiar with; the Dixie Chicks on the other hand have had worldwide success with their country tunes. Both American country music specialists, they engaged in a heated and very public feud in 2003 when Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines publicly stated that Keith’s song ‘Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue’ was “ignorant, and makes country music sound ignorant.” This coupled with Maines’ criticisms about George W. Bush at a London concert regarding the US invasion of Iraq, led Keith to publicly canning her songwriting capabilities as well as using a doctored image of her with Saddam Hussein as the backdrop for his concerts. Mains response was to wear a t-shirt with the letters “FUKT” at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Don’t you love it when musicians just get so childish?
Creator of popular television show Glee, Ryan Murphy hit out at both Kings of Lean and legendary guitarist Slash for not allowing their music to be used on the show. In a seriously uncalled for attack on Kings of Leon, Murphy told magazine The Hollywood Reporter they were “self-centered assholes, and they missed the big picture.” Fuelling the fire, KOL drummer Nathan Followill fired back via twitter with a personal jibe at Murphy. Thankfully the Mr Nice guy of rock n roll Dave Grohl hit back at Murphy, telling Rolling Stone “it’s every bands right, you shouldn’t have to do fucking Glee.” Grohl didn’t hold back from taking a shot at Murphy finally stating, “fuck that guy for thinking anybody and everybody should want to do Glee."
For those of you who have listened to Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator you would probably be accustomed to his slightly aggressive lyrics. It’s fair to say the hype surrounding him reached epic proportions with endless coverage in music press and blogs. Openly gay singer Sara Quin of the sister duo Tegan and Sara wrote a blog post on their website in May 2011 criticising Tyler for his “homophobic slurs” as well as the music industry for celebrating the artist and not taking a stand against the nature of his lyrics. Unfortunately Tyler’s Twitter response only confirmed Sara’s criticisms about the distasteful nature of his music after he stated "If Tegan and Sara Need Some Hard Dick, Hit Me Up!"
A testament to the fact that we Aussies can feud with the best of them. In 2003 an apparently inebriated Rogers taunted Australia Idol judge Mark Holden at Adelaide Airport after You Am I were told to make way by its record label BMG for the new Idol winners. A physical altercation ensued and both parties were giving a slap on the wrist by airport authorities, we secretly believe a cry of “Touchdown!” could be heard through out the terminal as Rogers may or may not have landed a hefty blow on the chin of Holden.
Katy Perry’s break out single ‘I Kissed A Girl’ may have reached number 1 in a handful of countries, but it was the lyrical content that really caught the ire of Gossip singer Beth Ditto. Who can really blame Ditto for getting a little angered at the pop stars vacuous lyrics, with lines like It's not what good girls do / Not how they should behave it doesn’t really push the envelope in terms of songwriting. As someone who’s proudly gay, Ditto stated to Attitude magazine “She's offensive to gay culture — I'm so offended,” going on to accuse Perry of riding on the coat tails of their culture. Katy being the nice girl she is didn’t want to get into a slanging match but did state to UK’s London Paper she “wasn’t impressed.” Honestly I think we know who would win this fight if it really came down to it.