Band breakups can devastate fans who are loyal followers of the music and the artists. Not all breakups are permanent but some are forever. Many of our favorite bands have been in the spotlight for decades and remain together in between clashes, brief breakups or a hiatus to take time off from one another. We’ve put together a collection of the 20 biggest band breakups in history.
Oasis was a band made up of the core of the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel. The two surrounded themselves with talent that supported their vision for a unique approach to music. Their popularity soared in the mid 1990s. For twenty years, the group went through ups and downs, and backstage fights, but they held it together until their final breakup in 2009. They had a turbulent relationship throughout their time as Oasis as they dealt with issues in their personal relationship with one another, drug use and a revolving cast of band members. The two enjoyed profitable years in which they released a new album every two to three years and experienced amazing and successful European tours.
The group was scheduled to appear at a Parisian festival. After a physical fight, the brothers cancelled the gig and shortly after the incident, they made the announcement of their breakup. On August 28, 2009, Noel Gallgher wrote his thoughts. He shared his relief and sadness that he had officially quit the group Oasis. He cited that it was not possible for him to continue working with his brother Liam. Witnesses had reported that Liam smashed one of Noel’s guitars in a fit of rage and then the fight was on. Sadly, the brothers have not spoken to one another since the incident occurred and the group Oasis went down violently and permanently.
Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses is a band that has established a reputation for indiscriminate drug use and a hell-raising partying lifestyle. They enjoyed their biggest success after the release of the “Appetite for Destruction” album in 1987. The band was on fire, but the good times were about to come to an end. By 1990, the group axed the original drummer for the band, Steven Adler because his drug addiction was getting in the way of business. While this was a positive step that helped the band to hold it together better, Axl Rose began causing problems by showing up terribly late for scheduled performances. Slash shared that prior to performing one night, Axl held the band hostage by refusing to go onstage until they agreed to sign away their rights to the name of the band. He targeted Duff McKagan and Slash with these demands. Although Axl denies this, Slash and Duff remain adamant.
After the 1993 Use Your Illusion tour, Axl referred to Slash as a cancer and the group officially broke up. Rose declined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction simply because Duff and Slash were going to be there. It seems that bridges have been burned and the ties that kept them together are forever undone.
The Everly Brothers
There seems to be a pattern of successful brother bands hitting the skids in the history of rock and roll. Although the two lived different lives than the Gallagher brothers of Oasis, the relationship issues were as big of a problem and led to the breakup of their group. Similarly, the Everly Brothers spent 20 successful years as a band until Don Everly turned up at a Hollywood show drunk as a skunk in 1973. He couldn’t keep it together well enough to give a decent performance and did a poor job of remembering the lyrics to songs he’d sang hundreds of times. It was Phil who became violent over the incident. So disgusted with Don, he broke a guitar over his brother’s head, stormed out of the venue and left in a huff. The Everly brothers didn’t speak again until their father passed away more than ten years later. They pulled it together and went on a nostalgia tour, but their relationship was still tense. They managed to come together again for a European tour in 2005, but have not performed together since then.
The Clash rose to heights of success beyond their wildest imaginations with a heyday in 1982. Their single release “Rock the Casbah” transformed them into a sensation as a well loved punk band into MTV superstars almost overnight. As it turned out, their greatest success would be their undoing as none of the members of the group were prepared to deal with their smashing success. The drummer for the band, Topper Headon was responsible for writing the hit that propelled them to the top of the charts, but unfortunately, he was let go because of a serious heroin addiction that interfered with his ability to fulfill his obligations to the group. His firing came before the song was officially released and just prior to the success that the rest of the group enjoyed from his contributions.
There were disagreements among bandmates who couldn’t decide on the direction that the band should take. The bassist Paul Simonon was a fan of reggae style while guitarist Mick Jones was set on hip hop. Joe Strummer was adamant about staying true to punk and the group battled verbally before they stopped talking to each other. They agreed to take a break from each other and went on hiatus. When they reunited for a US Festival gig in 1983, they weren’t able to pull it together as a group and the reunion didn’t go well at all. It was Mick Jones who firsts announced that he was leaving the group shortly after their poor performance in 1983.
The Police came together as a musical band in 1997. Stewart Copeland, drummer of the band pulled in Gordon Sumner and Andy Summers to join him. It took them one short year to establish themselves as the next great rock band with the public. Even though they gained a good measure of popularity, Summers and Sumner weren’t happy about Copeland’s management of the band. They asserted that he treated them more like they were his employees rather than equal members of a successful rock band. Tensions rose and within a year there was some crazy fighting. It seemed that the more success the group enjoyed, the worse their relationships with one another got. Summers put his thoughts about his experience with The Police in a memoir he wrote in 2006. It was in 1981, just after the release of the “Ghost in the Machine” LP that Sumner went off on him with a barrage of foul language and a shocking display of bad temper that left everyone in the room in shock. Sumner responded later in 2007 and explained that the biggest problem that the band members had is that they had nothing in common. He had left thee group in 1984 because he couldn’t see a future in pursuing a career with his bandmates any longer. He confirmed that this was an action he took that was based on his gut instinct and the group disbanded for good.
Smashing Pumpkins is a rock band that was led by their main songwriter Billy Corgan. Other members of the group were displeased that Billy seemed to be the one calling the shots, with little to no allowed input from the rest of them. Corgan insisted on playing bass and guitar on the band’s hit song “Siamese Dream.” This was a problem for the bassist D’arcy Wretze. Guitarist James Iha didn’t like it either. They voiced their opinions, but Corgan was obstinate and he wouldn’t give an inch for compromise. It was an issue but Smashing Pumpkins was reaching some decent levels of success so they managed to keep it together for three more years. In 1996, tragedy struck the group. Their keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin died from a heroin overdose. In the same night, their drummer Jimmy Chamberlin also overdosed. Although he survived, he was booted out of the band. The group allowed him to return three years later in 1999, but shortly after, D’arcy called it quits in the last month of December of 2000. Corgan revealed that he was fired for having a mean spirit as well as for his drug addiction.
According to Corgan, it was James Iha who was responsible for the breakup of the band. He claimed that Iha departed from their final performance as a group without speaking a word. This obviously didn’t set well with Corgan and the tensions finally came to a head with the disbanding of the group. Corgan stated that he had protected his band members the best that he could, but he wasn’t willing to offer protection for anyone anymore. The group went down hard and it left a lot of unresolved issues and hard feelings among the members.
The Eagles survived several decades as a band, but their astronomical success did not come without a price. In the early 1980s, the Eagles were reputed to be the “biggest band in America.” As with many other outrageously successful bands, success took its toll on the individuals and the group as a whole. The originals Glenn Frey and Don Henley were the most highly driven members who pushed hard. Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon quit because they were tired of working in a toxic environment. Joe Walsh’s alcohol addiction had caused multiple problems for the group. It didn’t help that he’d get stoned in addition to the drunkenness. Guitarist Don Felder didn’t like being treated like a lackey, but the new bassist Timothy B. Schmit was happy to take orders to be a part of the successful Band.
The Eagles made it big with multiple chart topping hits, but when they began to lean towards supporting political causes, such as doing a benefit for Senator Alan Cranston, Felder was fed up. After voicing his opinion to Glenn Frey, pandemonium broke out. Frey flew into a rage. Later that night as the group performed, their argument carried on with the two exchanging threats through their microphones. Felder knew that Frey was going to pound him after the set so he beat a hasty retreat in his limo to avoid a fist fight. This would be the group’s last performance together for a period of 14 years.
Queensryche was a metal band that hit it big in the 1980s. The band split on April 14 of 2012 to form two factions of the group. Tensions had been simmering for some time, until the tensions exploded in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It came to a physical altercation as the group disagreed over the direction that they were going to take. The group was managed by the wife of band frontman Geoff Tate. His account of the incident reveals that the band fired his wife from the management job. Afterwards, Tate said that Rockenfield told him that his family was just let go and that he would be the next to go. Tate lost hiss temper and took a swing at Scott Rockenfield. Other members of the group pulled Tate away and deny that Scott made any comments, claiming that it was Tate who started the fight without provocation. The split was so intense that the group had to take the matter to court to sort it all out legally.
Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine was considered to be one of the best rap/rock genre bands of the 1990s. Their chemistry was remarkable onstage, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case when they were offstage. By the end of the decade, things started falling apart for the band. They were set to hit the road touring with the Beastie Boys until Mike D’s accident forced the cancellation of the tour. The Rage didn’t have a problem booking their own gigs, but they couldn’t agree on band related decisions that needed to be made. There were arguments and disagreements and the tension became so intense that lead singer Zack de la Rocha had had enough. He made the announcement that he was leaving Rage Against the Machine on October 18 of 2000.
Zack shared that it was the group’s inability to make important decisions that prompted his decision to leave. The group ended in 2000, but they came together in 2007 for a performance, but still could not agree on any plans for the future of the band. The other members claim that they want to move forward with touring but Zack is the one that doesn’t want to plan or to do anything period.
Few would argue against the that Freddie Mercury embodied the true spirit of the band known to the world as Queen. His intense and moving vocals along with his well deserved status as rock legend made the group one of the most well loved and popular bands in the history of rock. It wasn’t an argument or fight that brought the band to its’ knees, but instead, the tragic death of Freddie in 1991. He died from complications due to AIDS. His death was a significant loss and he was virtually irreplaceable. Queen members Roger Deacon, Roger Taylor and Brian May went on tour in 2014 with Adam Lambert providing vocals in Freddie’s place. As the popular Queen hit song says, “The Show Must Go On,” as Taylor and May still produce albums.
The Pixies didn’t quite realize their full potential before they called it quits. They were on their way in the 1980s with two albums that contained great music. The Pixies were a little ahead of their time as alternative music was not yet the craze that it would become in just a few short years. Band members Black Francis (frontman) and Kim Deal (bassist) didn’t get along with each other. In fact, they seldom even spoke. They came together as a band in a very generic way. They weren’t friends and hadn’t even met each other until Frances posted an ad in a newspaper and Deal responded. Since it was Francis’ idea to start a band, it really didn’t set well when fans seemed to embrace Deal more strongly than they did Francis. Because of her higher popularity rating with fans, Francis turned up the cold factor. Deal responded by starting the Breeders, which was a band that showed promise. The Pixies opened for U2 in 1992, but it wasn’t a great tour and by 1993 Black Francis told members of the band that it was over and disbanded the group
One Direction was the popular boy band that took the world by storm as an almost instant sensation. At the height of their popularity, problems began to besiege them. Member Zayn Malik was having quite a few personal problems. He had enjoyed the amazing success of the band equally with the other members, but he had discovered that with fame there also comes a heavy price to pay. It was something that Malik decided he was no longer willing to do. He left the group and cited the reason as wanting to “be a normal 22 year old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.” There were no rumors of knock down drag out fights or serious disagreements circulating before the split, it’s just that life happens and as young people mature into adults, their hopes, dreams, needs and aspirations can change and lead them in new life directions. There is more than one direction you can take your life.
Backstreet Boys was one of the nation’s most popular boy bands in the 1990s. They enjoyed several years of success and fame before Kevin Richardson made the decision to leave the group. In 2006, he made the announcement that he was ready to pursue other interests in his professional life. He took six years off, and then came back to the group in 2012 and has remained with them ever since.
The Beatles became an international music phenomenon that swept the globe in the 1960s. After rising to incredible heights of super stardom, John Lennon made his decision to leave the band in 1969. No formal announcement of this was made to the media until Paul McCartney stepped forward to announce his own solo album in 1970. This was the perfect time for John Lennon to make his own statement. These two major events signaled the end of the band. Lennon had been gone for a year without leaking the information to the press.
Blink 182 was on the rise and gaining in popularity with fans. They had hit the big time and had the battle scars to prove it. Heavy touring to satisfy fan demand in 2004, left Tom DeLonge exhausted and not willing to follow the group with their next project which was the launching of a reality TV show. Tom made his exit from the band and forever changed Blink 182, however, the group keeps churning out new music and hitting the road on tours.
The punk rock band Blondie was hot in the 1970s and 80s. Debbie Harry made the decision in 1981 to pursue a solo career in rap and pop music. She was already established in punk rock so there was a little resistance from fans to the change.She stayed away until 1997 when the band reunited and once again began putting out records.
The rumor mills are kept alive by the threats made by Fleetwood Mac band members of leaving. The band has had its ups and downs throughout the decades, but Christine McVie made good on the threat in 1998. She cited the reasons as wanting to spend more time with her family. The rest of the group carried on in her absence. She and Mick Fleetwood toured together in 2013 and by 2014, Fleetwood Mac announced that it had officially reunited.
Phil Collins became an integral part of the band Genesis as drummer and lead singer. The multi-talented artist decided to pursue his solo career in 1996 and officially left the band. Genesis called it quits in 1998, but all members including Collins came together once again in 2006 and they’ve been making recordings as a band ever since.
This band has a history of splits and mended relationships up to the time that the group truly fell apart. The original members LeToya Luckett, Farrah Franklin and LaTavia Roberson kicked off the group that evolved into thee final three members Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland and Beyonce Knowles. When the original Destiny’s child ladies went on hiatus, it gave Beyonce her shot and she maximized the opportunity.
Justin Timberlake’s amazing music career was launched from his inclusion in the popular boy band ‘N Sync. The band was immensely in demand and hit heights of glory in the 1990s. By 2002, Timberlake was set to release his maiden solo album. Although it seemed inevitable that he would pursue solo interests, it wasn’t until 2004 that he made his split with the group official in a media announcement.