The journey to being a music legend isn’t always plain sailing; there are lots of emotions and creative energy involved, not to mention the egos. Add to that the gruelling tours and the pressure to stay at the top – the opportunities to clash are endless, and music feuds are as much a part of rock and roll legend as throwing a TV out of a hotel window.
While recent music feuds are fuelled by social media, they are by no means a recent thing; it turns out that Brahms was the Liam Gallagher of the mid-19th century and apparently fell out with everyone, making a point of conspicuously falling asleep in the middle of other composer’s performances.
Of course, a nice juicy music feud helps to shift a few more albums too. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album was a classic anyway, but it gives those songs an extra edge when you know that they were ALL breaking up with each other during the recording.
Some feuds are to be expected – as with the in-band sibling rivalry of the Gallagher brothers – while some of them seem really bizarre; Frank Sinatra once threatened to kick Sinead O’Connor. Whatever the reason, we love a bit of drama, and are fascinated by celebrities, so with this in mind, we’ve put together eight of the most talked about music feuds in history. From Ping-Pong battles, to being hit with a tambourine, verbal abuse to revenge songs, we’ve got it all.
Taylor Swift vs Kanye West
Kicking off at the 2009 VMAs when Kanye took it upon himself to interrupt Taylor’s acceptance speech, this feud had it all; leaked mobile phone conversations, an intervention from Barack Obama, revenge tracks from both artists, and its very own hashtag. We were all dragged into it on social media and were glued to every reconciliation/social media statement they threw at us. The feud fuelled some of Taylor Swift’s most-loved songs, including ‘Look What You Made Me Do.’
Elton John vs Madonna
In 2002 Sir Elton John, not known for his subtlety, referred to Madonna’s Bond theme, ‘Die Another Day’ as “the worst Bond theme ever.” He then went on to accuse her of lip-syncing, and allegedly referred to her as a ‘nightmare’ and a ‘miserable cow’. Madonna has always laughed off their feud and responded graciously, although that could be because she is also rumoured to be embroiled in feuds with both Lady Gaga and Cher.
Lennon Vs McCartney
Not even one of the greatest bands of all time was immune to a feud, and despite writing some of the most loved, and famous, songs in the world, the tension between John Lennon and Paul McCartney was well-known. There are different accounts of why there was tension; from poor leadership and creative differences, to Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono. Whatever the real story is, there’s no denying that the feud resulted in some great songs, such as McCartney’s ‘Dear Friend’ and Lennon’s ‘How Do You Sleep?’ which featured on his Imagine album, ironically an album associated with peace and love.
Tupac Shakur Vs Biggie Smalls
Probably one of the most iconic, and sad, feuds, Biggie and Tupac started off as friends; performing together and eventually becoming business partners. But it all went downhill after Tupac was robbed and shot; he believed Biggie was behind it because he’d been in a nearby building at the time. There followed a musical battle where they each released songs attacking the other. Sadly, their feud was never resolved as both artists were shot and killed in separate drive-by shootings, something that has sparked quite a few conspiracy theories.
Axl Rose Vs Slash
This classic rock star feud was fuelled by explosive ego clashes between lead singer Axl Rose, and lead guitarist, Slash. The pair had always clashed over which direction the band was heading, but it came to a head after Slash performed a guitar solo on a Michael Jackson track that Rose didn’t approve of. Rose then went on to take legal ownership of the group’s name and in 1996, Slash left the group. The pair continued to argue for the next thirty years until they were eventually reconciled in 2016 for a reunion tour. The tour was called ‘Not in this lifetime’, referring to a claim made by Axl Rose that a reunion wouldn’t happen in his lifetime.
Prince Vs Michael Jackson
These two solo artists happily had parallel solo careers for ten years, until Jackson’s Thriller album came up against Prince’s 1999 in 1982 and outsold it. Prince then released the hugely successful Purple Rain two years later and it seemed the pair of them entered an unspoken rivalry that spread out of the recording studio, with reports of shooting hoops together, and a particularly competitive Ping-Pong game. Prince turned down Michael Jackson’s offer of a duet and refused to take part in the charity recording ‘We Are The World’.
Liam Gallagher vs Noel Gallagher
The feud between the Gallagher brothers is partly what made Oasis so popular as often their spats were quite entertaining. It sounds like they’ve always fought but the tension seemed to really kicked off when Liam threw a tambourine at Noel’s head at a gig in 1994, before storming off the stage. Their feud seemed to move on from just sibling rivalry, with reports of physical fights and public insults. Noel left the band in 2009 claiming he couldn’t work with Liam a day longer and since then the feud has continued on social media, to the delight of their fans. It doesn’t look like there’ll be a family reunion any time soon.
Oasis vs Blur
Staying with the Gallagher brothers, Oasis and Blur started out as figureheads of the Britpop scene and the Gallaghers and Damon Albarn seemed to have a healthy respect for each other. However, a party celebrating Oasis’ first number-one single in 1995 seems to have sparked a competition between the two bands and the ‘Battle of Britpop’, between the middle-class Londoners and the tough, working-class northerners, became a cultural event. Blur’s Alex James claimed the rivalry was made up, but Noel Gallagher was quoted as saying he hoped Alex and Damon would die. Noel and Damon eventually made up in 2011 when they bumped into each other at a club.
These famous music feuds are just some of the clashes that have shaped the music scene over the last 50 years. Doing anything you love can inspire strong emotions and as we’ve seen, those emotions aren’t always channelled into making great music. If music is your thing check out our blog on covers that are better than the original and let us know what you think about the songs that should go into a global music vault, just don’t tell either of the Gallagher brothers that they’re not in there!
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