The 11 Biggest Music Beefs in Rock History


Feuds are historically rife in the rock world. Whether they be between bands or in them, they’ve been present since the. For instance; sibling rivalries over love, disputes over copyright, mocking another band’s struggle with addiction… you name it.

In no particular order, here are the nastiest of them all, where often burying the hatchet just wasn’t possible.

1. Pink Floyd: David Gilmour vs. Roger Waters 

“I was wrong. Of course I was.” – Roger Waters (2013)

Waters left the band for a solo career following The Final Cut (1983), declaring the end of Pink Floyd. Gilmour (guitar) and Nick Mason (drums) disagreed, and tensions boiled over in 1986 when Waters took them both to court to stop them from using the band’s name, only to finalise an out-of-court agreement a year later. Waters has since expressed regret for his actions, but has he been forgiven? (and not just by his fellow bandmates).



2. The Beatles: John Lennon vs. Paul McCartney

“People said, ‘It’s a pity that such a nice thing had to come to such a sticky end.’ I think that too. But you realise that you’re in real life, and you don’t split up a beautiful thing with a beautiful thing.”

– Paul McCartney (1971)

McCartney took the reigns after Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein passed in 1967, but it wasn’t for long as the group split three years later with Lennon claiming he was just leading them “around in circles.” Years after Lennon died, McCartney reversed the order of their famously trademarked songwriting credit (Lennon-McCartney) in what could only be a sly barb to his former band member.



3. Simon & Garfunkel: Paul Simon vs. Art Garfunkel

“I created a monster.” – Art Garfunkel (2015)

That’s the sound of true bitterness 45 years after Simon & Garfunkel split. While 1970 was a highly successful year for the duo on the wave of their Bridge Over Troubled Water record, it signalled the beginning of the end when they refused to record each other’s choices for the album’s final song. It also didn’t help that audiences thought Garfunkel wrote the title track instead of Simon, since the former sang it solo. They’ve allegedly put their differences aside, but their feuds still resonate today.



4. Guns N’ Roses: Axl Rose vs. Slash

“It’s very cool at this point to dispel some of that negative stuff that was going on for so long.” – Slash (2015)

There’s been rife speculation about what started this legendary conflict. However, former manager Doug Goldstein revealed that it was actually Slash’s partnership with the King of Pop which sparked it all. Having been molested as a child and believing the charges against Michael Jackson, Axl was “devastated” to hear they were playing together. We didn’t think they’d ever get back together, but they’ve managed to put it behind them for Coachella and a string of summer dates.



5. The Beach Boys: Mike Love vs. Brian Wilson

“What’s confusing is that by Mike not wanting or letting Al, David and me tour with the band, it sort of feels like we’re being fired.” – Brian Wilson (2012)

These guys have had an enduring history of legal scuffles surrounding songwriting credits, royalties and of the use of the renowned band name. These culminated into a public display in 2012, when Love unexpectedly fired Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks after a reunion. Last year, Wilson expressed that he doesn’t really want to make music with The Beach Boys, and seeing this feud play out, we can see why.



6. The Ramones: Joey Ramone vs. Johnny Ramone 

“There was no Ramones without Joey.” – Johnny Ramone

We know they’re not blood-related, but they ended up taking the same name in the mid-70s and had a huge falling out over Linda Daniele, who had dated Johnny but tied the knot with Joey. She even inspired the song ‘She’s a Sensation’, and although the two brothers never completely mended their bond, The Ramones pushed on and Daniele remained with Johnny until his death in 2004, three year’s after Joey’s.



7. Mike Patton (Faith No More) vs. Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

“It’s not worth talking about. I’ve no idea what it was about then and I don’t know now. But I bet we’d have a warm embrace if we saw each other now.” – Mike Patton (2010)

By 1989, both bands were making it big landing European tours. There wasn’t a problem until Chili Peppers frontman Kiedis saw Faith No More’s video for their track ‘Epic’ and decided it was too much like something he would put out. Not only did he let Mike Patton know all about it, but Patton retaliated in some pretty nasty ways, with his other band Mr. Bungle dressing as the Peppers and performing a series of botched covers.



8. Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) vs. Courtney Love (Hole)

“We connected very deeply and once it spun off and where we spun off – we’ve never had that same relationship again” – Billy Corgan (2014)

This started back in 2010 after Love released Nobody’s Daughter, with Corgan claiming to Rolling Stone that she had used some tracks he had written with her without his consent. While Love apologised, this didn’t stop Corgan from unleashing a brutal Twitter tirade on his former flame, attacking her about all kinds of things, from her supposed theft to her parenting skills.



9. Gene Simmons (KISS) vs. Carlos Santana

“He’s not a musician, he’s an entertainer. KISS is Las Vegas entertainment, so he wouldn’t know what music is anyway.” – Carlos Santana (2005)

It was back in 2005 that the accomplished guitarist released that barb, and while initially taking the insult in his stride Simmons fired back four years later, demanding that Santana “get off the stage” for being a lack-lustre performer. We can imagine Simmons’ reaction to his live show being something like this.


10. Kid Rock vs. Tommy Lee

“What it boils down to is a level of disrespect for a lot of years between me and him — him towards me — and it had nothing to do with [Lee and Rock’s ex-wife] Pamela [Anderson].” – Kid Rock (2007)

The MTV Awards is no stranger to altercations, and tensions between the two exploded after Kid Rock allegedly overheard Lee talking trash about him so retaliated with a right hook to the face. However, according to Rock, their strained relationship had been going on for five years. This one’s a real vendetta for the ages.



11. Morrissey (The Smiths) vs. Robert Smith (The Cure)

“If Morrissey says not to eat meat, then I’m going to eat meat; that’s how much I hate Morrissey.”  – Robert Smith

One of the most infamous rivalries from the ’80s, to this day people are still unsure of where it all started (although it’s likely egos over who’s the real ‘king of mope’ have something to do with it). It’s been a war of attrition, and one that’s unlikely to come to an end.


About Genevieve Gao

Interviewing bands and getting to know the people behind them is what I do best. Lover of all things heavy, Italian food, beaches & coffee. FInd me on Twitter @Genna1_1

View all posts by Genevieve Gao

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