With big egos and big issues and living life in the fast lane, sometimes, it’s no surprise that band members go their separate ways and leaving the band broken up. It might be due to a plethora of reasons, some go solo, some want to be more independent, creative disputes is a common excuse, personalities clash and fights happen. Ultimately, whatever made them jump ship, we never really know the real reason, behind the generic press releases, of why these bands break up. Until now.
Christened as “the only band that matters”, The Clash was punk pioneer. They dominated the genre in the late 70s to early 80s, intensely popular and on the road to being legends in the rock world. However, the intensity fizzled out by 1986 and they eventually disbanded. In an interview in 1999, frontman Joe Strummer said that the reason behind their split is because members had been “tired.” He adds, “There had been a lot of intense activity in five years. Secondly, I felt we’d run out of idea gasoline.”
Another reason was that they didn’t want to turn into “rock n’ roll dinosaurs” like their predecessor The Who. The Clash opened for The Who in 1982 during one of their farewell tours and saw a glimpse of something they didn’t want happening to them. Strummer said, “We saw what The Who were like at the end of their tether. It’s a bad scene. You quickly turn into nothing.”
The Everly Brothers
Sometimes, a family business thrives and working with family is the best set up. When it comes to being in band together, however, working with family doesn’t always work out. This is what happened to siblings Don and Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers. In the 50s and 60s, they had many big hits such as “All I Have to Do is Dream,” “Cathy’s Clown,” and “Bye Bye Love”. Something that suffered a hit though was their relationship. Brothers will be brothers and brothers fight and bicker, it’s inevitable. But when they do it on stage, that leads to a band break up. In 1973, during a show at the Los Angeles-area amusement park Knott’s Berry Farm, Don Everly told Phil Everly that he was “tired of being an Everly Brother” (not that he had a choice, he will always be an Everly Brother, it’s in his blood). Anyway, Don showed up at the gig so drunk the park manager had to intervene. Phil was so pissed at his brother that he left the stage smashing his guitar on the way out. That was the day their run as a duo ended.
In 2003, Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel recruited the Everly Brothers to tour with them.
Simon reveals to Rolling Stone that the brothers didn’t have a good relationship post break up. “Don and Phil hadn’t seen each other in about three years. They met in the parking lot before the first gig.”
The Eagles may have had a harmonious blend of voices together but the same does not go for their relationships with each other both personal and professional. In fact, in a nasty display of tensions within the band, guitarist Don Felder and singer Glenn Frey fought under their breaths on stage during a 1980 benefit concert in Long Beach, California for then- California Senator Alan Cranston. Years of suppressed enmity among each other exploded when Frey felt embarrassed and insulted after Felder responded to the Senator Cranston’s courtesies, “You’re welcome, Senator … I guess.”
Immediately after a backstage confrontation, they go onstage with Felder saying to Frey “Only three more songs till I kick your ass, pal.” The volatile night ended with a smashed guitar and Frey quitting the band. “We always vowed to quit when we were still on top and that’s what we did.” Frey said. Although the Eagles still toured and recorded throughout the years, it wasn’t until Glenn Frey’s death in June 2016 that the final dissolution of the band was announced.
According to a press release, the reason why heavy metal band Queensrÿche disbanded was because of “creative differences”, the most common, most diplomatic, most generic explanation publicists give for a band break up. However, singer Geoff Tate reveals to Rolling Stone Magazine that it’s much more than mere “creative differences”. There is hearbreak to their parting, and he says,
“We’ve all known each other for 30 years…For it to end in such a hostile way, it’s just mind-boggling. To have creative differences, you have to have two entities or more offering up creative ideas. And that just wasn’t the case. Queensrÿche has always been my idea.”
The downward spiral of the band began in early 2012 when Tate and the band’s management had an altercation against rest of the band’s who had decided to turn over its merchandise management to a third party. Tate was kicked out of the band the same summer.
Tate says drummer Scott Rockenfield said, “We just fired your whole family and you’re next” when a number of crew members were let go, all of whom were Tate’s relatives. Tate responded with violent action or at least tried to. He says,
“I tried to punch him. I don’t think I landed a punch before somebody grabbed me and hauled me to the side.”
Lead singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein were inseparable on stage and in real life. They were together professionally and romantically, in sickness and in health. So when Chris Stein got sick and had to step away from the band to heal, so did Debbie Harry. Stein was diagnosed with a rare disease called pemphigus vulgaris, which causes painful blistering on the skin, mouth, throat, and lungs. He got sick around the time of the band’s official breakup. Debbie Harry stayed by his side throughout his ordeal. “People say that I nursed him, but I was his mate, you know, and went to the hospital and stayed with him, but he was very much under professional care,” Harry told Saga in 2014.
Debbie and Chris ended their relationship in 1989, but they still reunited albeit professionally when Blondie came together again in the 90s.
Financial issues is one of the leading causes of marital divorce…and band break ups. In the 1960’s The Zombies were killing it (pun intended) on mainstream pop culture. Their 1968 album “Odessey and Oracle” is much used today in popular movies and television shows to set up the era that is the 60s. However, when the album was actually released in ’68, it was a flop and the lack of sales and income caused a riff among the band members. Keyboardist Rod Argent told Express “our fees for playing live had gone down a lot, and we had no money.”
The Zombies split because they couldn’t afford to stay together. Until… they found out they could…and more.
“We later found out after we’d broken up that we had hits at some place in the world at almost any time. It was just in the U.K., we had less success than anywhere else!” Argent explained.
One good thing that came out of Jane’s Addiction’s break up is the annual Lollapalooza music festival, which started out as the farewell tour of the band. They decided to hit the road together and then go their separate ways when it was done. And it’s probably for the best because on their first appearance at Lollapalooza, Perry Farrell Farrell and guitarist Dave Navarro got into a fight in front of thousands of fans, forcing their set to end earlier than scheduled.
But what was the reason for this fight? Living the rock n’ roll lifestyle and not living it. Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins always partied hard — embodying the rockstar lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock n roll. Navarro and bassist Eric Avery were desperate to stay clean and free of drugs and booze. The two camps of the band couldn’t agree on how to live their rockstar lives and by 1992, Jane’s Addiction was done.