Top 5 Classic Rock Feuds
By: Adam Kujawski

In the business of Rock and Roll, emotions often run high. Mix one-part creative-types, with two-parts egos and a dash of fame and success, and the outcome isn’t always pretty. Inspired by the recent comments made by Roger Waters about Pink Floyd's 1985 lawsuit, we’ve compiled a list of some of Rock and Roll’s most notorious feuds!

1.  John Lennon vs. Paul McCartney

When you’re a part of the most lucrative band in the history of Rock and Roll, your breakup is bound to be widely publicized, and as such, the legendary songwriting duo of Lennon – McCartney ranks among one of the most iconic feuds of all time.

Following a decade-long run of success, John and Paul, along with the rest of The Beatles, decided to go their separate ways in 1970. By many accounts, John Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono is regarded as the catalyst of The Beatles’ downfall.  McCartney is said to have disagreed with the relationship and how it resulted in Lennon leaving his first wife, Cynthia, and apparently,  Sir Paul wrote the song “Dear Boy” criticizing his decision.

Instead of talking things out, Lennon came back with “How Do You Sleep?” in 1971, which allegedly was written to denounce McCartney’s success and talent as a musician. The two unfortunately did not reunite on stage before Lennon’s tragic death in 1980, but the iconic songwriting duo remained cordial throughout the ‘70s. McCartney has since stated he does not blame Yoko Ono for the breakup of the Beatles.

2.  Roger Waters vs. Pink Floyd

If you willingly leave the band you created, do you get to keep the rights to the band's name?  Roger Waters thought so, when he decided to leave Pink Floyd in 1985 in pursuit of a solo career.  Almost immediately, the band decided it would continue without him under the same name, but Waters felt it was his band and quickly sued for the rights to the ‘Pink Floyd’ name.

Waters and guitarist David Gilmour eventually reached a settlement out of court that gave Waters the rights to his brainchild, The Wall, while the rest of the band was awarded the name Pink Floyd and everything else that went with it. The band then reunited in 2005 for a one-off performance at Live 8.

Recently, Roger Waters told BBC that he regretted ever suing his former bandmates, stating, “I did think that was wrong, and I was wrong.” 

3.  Neil Young vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd

You can’t take a jab at southern lifestyle without hearing from southern rock’s finest: a fact that was proven when Neil Young released “Southern Man” and “Alabama” in 1970. 

The songs clearly pushed the buttons of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and they fired back in their classic 1974 song “Sweet Home Alabama,” singing, “I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern Man don’t need him around anyhow.”

Despite the somewhat heated exchange through their lyrics, Neil Young has gone on record saying he is proud to be acknowledged in a Skynyrd song, while the late Ronnie Van Zant wore Neil Young t-shirts during Skynyrd concerts in an effort to show there was no longer any animosity between the two.


4.  Paul Simon vs. Art Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel have been on-again/off-again for nearly 60 years.  Their initial success came when they were just boys in 1955, and they went on to produce chart-topping hits for the next 13 years. A rift began in late 1969 during the filming of Catch-22, a movie that cast both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel before soon cutting Simon from the script entirely.

After the release of 1970's critically acclaimed Bridge Over Troubled Water, the duo decided to call it quits, as they seemed to be headed in different direcitons. In the early '80s, they planned on releasing a reunion album, but due to “creative differences,” Simon erased Garfunkel’s vocals from the disc and released it as a solo album entitled Hearts and Bones in 1983.

The duo wouldn’t reunite again until it came time to perform at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1990.  Since then they have appeared sporadically on tours and at charity events as friends.

5.  David Lee Roth vs. Van Halen

When you have a high-flying band like Van Halen, it’s easy for egos to get out of control. Frontman David Lee Roth lasted thirteen years before he struck out on his own, with the rest of the band, namely Eddie Van Halen, apparently growing tired of Roth’s behavior, both on and off the stage. On April 1, 1985 Roth and the band parted ways, and Van Halen quickly replaced him with Montrose frontman, Sammy Hagar.

More than ten years later, a disastrous attempt at a surprise reunion at the MTV Video Music Awards led to a shouting match between Eddie and David, threatening to keep them apart for good.

In 2007, over twenty years since the initial breakup, Van Halen and Roth reunited. They have appeared on stage together several times over the years, and even hit the studio together to record 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth, which they promoted with a series of world tour dates. Meanwhile, Eddie isn't on such great terms with former frontman Sammy Hagar and original bassist, Michael Anthony...

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