6 Classic Rock Bands That Just Couldn’t Get Along
The Everly Brothers. Pink Floyd. The Eagles. No matter how famous, some rock bands just couldn’t make their creative partnerships work.
There are disagreements, and then there are decades-long feuds that break apart some of the world’s most famous bands—sometimes forever. Here, we look at some of the most tempestuous relationships in the history of rock ‘n roll.
The Everly Brothers
Before Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis became famous for their public squabbles, there was Don and Phil Everly.
However, unlike their British counterparts, the Everly brothers managed to create music together in relative peace and harmony for the first 20 years of their career—not too shabby, considering the highly-publicized fallout that was to come.
It was in 1973, during a concert in Buena Park, California, that Don told a stunned crowd, “I’m through being an Everly brother.”
Don’s shocking admission came midway through the song “Cathy’s Clown” after Phil smashed his own guitar on the ground and suddenly stormed off stage. Although abrupt, it shouldn’t have been altogether surprising as both siblings had battled ongoing drug addictions and, in the midst of that 1973 concert, both were reportedly on speed. The drugs had finally taken a toll on the siblings.
Don was left to explain to an astonished crowd that the duo was breaking up, and he proceeded to finish the concert on his own. The two only spoke once during the following 10 years—at their father’s funeral.
In 1983 and 2005 they agreed to put their differences aside for brief nostalgia tours, but the situation remained tense, both on stage and off and the siblings never truly reconciled.
Phil died in January 2014 at the age of 74.
Next: The Police
Formed in 1977 by drummer Stewart Copeland, The Police quickly ascended to fame in their native England within a year of forming. Together, with former schoolteacher Gordon “Sting” Sumner and guitarist Andy Summers, the trio were dubbed “rock’s next big thing.”
However, tensions began to boil over behind the scenes as it started to become apparent that Sting was taking control of the band, calling all the shots and making executive decisions on behalf of his bandmates.
Summers, in his 2006 memoir, One Train Later, described one particular fight that occurred while the band recorded their 1981 album Ghost in the Machine: “Sting goes berserk on me. Calling me every name under the sun with considerable vehemence, leaving everyone in the room white-faced and in shock.”
In 1986, a mere nine years after the band’s inception, Sting called it quits following a long stadium tour for their album Synchronicity. “We didn’t have a great deal in common,” he later told Rolling Stone in 2007. “Part of the frustration was that Stewart and Andy were driven to write. It’s difficult to tell somebody it’s not a good song, and it was usually me.”
And, after a 30th anniversary tour in 2007, more than 20 years after they disbanded, Sting insisted the breakup was for purely over creative differences, and the fact that each wanted their own solo career. “It wasn’t my intention to punish Stewart and Andy in any way,” he said. “I was following my instincts.”
Next: The Eagles
By 1980, nine years after the band formed, The Eagles were on the verge of collapse—and the animosity between some of the members had come to its breaking point.
Don Henley and Glen Frey were both, by many accounts, intense personalities that often drew the ire of the other guys in the group. Original members Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner had already quit because of the toxic atmosphere and Joe Walsh was reportedly too inebriated to register much of the drama. However, guitarist Don Felder had reached the end of his rope.
And it was on the night of July 31, 1980, in Long Beach, California, that everything came to a head.
Felder, already seething because he felt like a “secondary member” of the band compared to the dominant personalities of Frey and Henley, had always stated that he wanted the band to avoid being political—he wanted it to be about the music. But, on that July evening, The Eagles met with Senator Alan Cranston and his wife backstage so Cranston could thank the band for agreeing to perform at a benefit for his reelection—a move Felder vehemently opposed.
When it came time for the Senator and his wife to shake hands with Felder, he responded with, “Nice to meet you…I guess.” Frey went off the handle, threatening to beat Felder up—they even carried the argument onto the stage, berating one another into their microphones between songs. Felder took off in his limo the moment the show ended.
The band didn’t play together again for 14 years.
Next: Simon & Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel
The scene: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, 1990.
Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon were on hand for their induction into the prestigious hall. The duo, on the outs since the mid-80s, stood apart from one another.
Garfunkel: “I want to thank most of all the person who has most enriched my life by putting these great songs through me, my friend Paul here.”
Simon: “Arthur and I agree about almost nothing. But it’s true, I have enriched his life quite a bit, now that I think about it.”
The exchange was awkward, to say the least, and no doubt left their fan base disappointed that the two were still at odds with one another.
Eleven years later, Simon was inducted into the Hall of Fame again—this time as a solo artist. When asked about his former musical partner, Simon did little to assure audiences that the pair were leaning toward a reconciliation. “I hope that some day, before we die, we will make peace with each other,” he said, before adding, “…no rush.”
In a 2015 interview with The Telegraph, Garfunkel lashed out regarding their post-Bridge Over Troubled Water breakup. “It was very strange,” he said. “Not my choice. Nothing I would have done. I want to open up about this. I don’t want to say any anti-Paul Simon things, I love that the world still loves Simon & Garfunkel, but it seems very perverse to not enjoy the glory and walk away from it instead…What I would have done is take a rest from Paul, because he was getting on my nerves…but a year was all I needed.”
At this point, it’s safe to assume the folk duo are on the outs for good.
Next: The Kinks
And you thought the Everly Brothers would be the only squabbling siblings to make this list. Ray and Dave Davies, the founders of the immensely popular British group, The Kinks, have been feuding since the mid-60s—and, considering The Kinks was formed in 1964, it means they’ve been fighting since the band’s inception.
The brothers have had a volatile relationship for the duration of their careers, with some media outlets calling it “one of the longest running feuds in rock ‘n roll.” More often than not, the pair resorted to violence. As a result, the band has not played together for 20 years (their last concert was in 1996).
As Dave once told news outlets: “You’ve heard of vampires, well, Ray sucks me dry of ideas, emotions and creativity.”
Although Ray joined Dave on stage for one song during the latter’s solo concert in London last year, no official reunion appears on the horizon.
Next: Pink Floyd
In 1987, Roger Waters embarked on a solo European tour while the rest of Pink Floyd went to court over rights to the bands name.
Waters, the principal songwriter for the group until his departure in 1985, initiated High Court proceedings to formally dissolve his partnership with David Gilmour and the rest of Pink Floyd. In his statement he called the band a “spent force creatively.” Gilmour and company opposed the motion and announced their intention to continue touring and making music as Pink Floyd.
At one point, Waters told reporters that Gilmour’s lyrics were “very third-rate” and “they’ll never be as good as mine.”
Ultimately, the courts sided with Gilmour and made the decision that they could continue on as Pink Floyd without Roger Waters.
By 2005, Waters and Gilmour made peace long enough to perform a four-song set at Live8 and, in 2011, Pink Floyd joined Waters onstage during the London stop of his solo world tour.