Musicians are artists at the heart of it. Sometimes they are spotted, taken, and morphed into something that resembles fairly little of what they started out as. Then there are the faceless record companies that throw young talent together and see what sticks. It’s unsurprising, then, that so many arguments and fall-outs between musicians have proven to be fatal. Let’s go over some of the biggies…
1. Pete Doherty vs Johnny Borrell
Let’s kick off with a couple of mid-00’s British music royalty, Pete Doherty and Johnny Borrell. Doherty was part of the on-off majesty of the Libertines, while Borrell led Razorlight as they headlined Glastonbury and took a reasonable crack at toppling America in their brief crusade. While in 2015 both bands are still going, The Libertines reuniting after a considerable break away from the limelight, and Borrell still touring under the Razorlight banner, back in their original heyday in 2005, the pair were involved in ‘headbutt-gate’ at Leeds Festival. Doherty had visited Razorlight’s dressing room to talk with Borrell, which then led to the former friends ending up embroiled in a bloody indie-rock battle. What began as a few drinks led to Doherty standing up and butting Borrell, and things got a little bit tasty after that.
2. Taylor Swift vs Spotify
Okay so not strictly a fight, per se, but one of the reigning pop queens, country star Taylor Swift upset the proverbial apple cart when she upped and took her songs away from Spotify in 2014, following her latest album release ‘1989’. Whether or not this removal resulted in that aforementioned album being the first to acheive over 1m in sales in the US, coming dangerously close to Eminem’s record of 1.2m back in 2002, or not is another reason. Her reasoning for the removal was that the popular streaming service paid so poorly per song listen, giving artists between $0.006 and $0.0084. The service counteracted with claims it paid out $500m in royalties in 2013 and over $1bn since 2009. As of June 2015, Swift is still not back on the service, yet her popularity remains, whether this is a precedent for the future is yet to be seen, but who knows, could the streaming revolution collapse before it reaches its peak?
3. Jack White vs Black Keys
Another act who refrain from Spotify, are the Black Keys, but they aren’t the real star of this feud. Private emails from Jack White to ex-wife Karen Elson entered the public domain causing the self-record label artist a fair bit of embarrassment. White bizarrely ranted about his children attending the same school as Black Keys’ singer Dan Auerbach, claiming he’d ripped his act off. What could have led to a proper, big argument, and threatened to for a while as White told the Rolling Stone that ‘without the White Stripes there’d be no Black Keys’, simmered down by 2014, by which time White had issued a letter apologising to the band, as well as Danger Mouse, Adele, Meg White and “anyone I’ve offended with my comments about my creativity, their creativity, and the music business in general”. It was a big step for the blues man, and drew a firm line under the incident.
4. Charlie Watts vs Mick Jagger
A story that emerged via a devoted Stones fanzine editor gave some insight into what it is like to be in a world-famous rock band and the pressures that come with it. Bill German, founder of the Beggars Banquet fanzine, described a meeting in Amsterdam to discuss whether the band should call it a day. It led to Mick Jagger infamously calling drummer Charlie Watts as “my drummer”. Jagger allegedly said something to Watts along the lines of: “None of this should matter to you because you’re only my drummer.”
While Watts immediately kept it bottled inside until he got back to his hotel room, German describes him as, “Clicking off his TV, putting on his shoes, walking down the hall and knocking on Mick’s door. When the lead singer of the Rolling Stones opened it, ‘his’ drummer clocked him on the jaw. Charlie then turned round and calmly walked away.” It was one of who knows how many incidents, and one only uncovered as a result of the fanzine editor’s hard work.
5. Kid Rock vs Tommy Lee
The MTV Video Awards had seen this type of thing before; the Axl Rose vs Nirvana debacle dating this confrontation by 15 years, but ultimately Kid Rock and Tommy Lee’s ‘brawl’ was all about a girl. Pamela Anderson was in-between the two men, the ex-wife of one and the current wife of the other, the two men eerily similar in their oily haired rocker status. During Alicia Keys’ performance, it all kicked off with the RnB star’s interpretation of George Michael’s Freedom playing with increasingly surreal elements throughout. It may have been every bit the drunken punch up at a wedding, but when you’re both vying for the attention of Anderson, it was always going to end in a publicly damning bitch fight. Security separated the two following a few punches thrown.
6. Lorde vs Diplo
An indictment of the social media world we live in in the 21st century, the feud between American DJ Diplo and NZ sensation Lorde also revolved around Taylor Swift. The former tweeted out “someone should make a Kickstarter to get Taylor Swift a booty”, Lorde – on Swift’s behalf – hit back with the excellent: “should we do something about your tiny penis while we’re at it?”. It caused all sorts of controversy amongst various groups of fangirls before Lorde later claimed there was no animosity, and that Diplo is like “a big brother”, adding that special friendship is about “not letting them say stupid shit.” Diplo has extensively remixed Lorde’s tracks both past and present, so the friendship is hardly surprising, maybe they should keep it private the next time they want to have ‘banter’?
Agree? Disagree? Was your favourite fall-out on the list? Comment below!