Disbanded: The dumbest musical breakups of all time


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On the outside, many bands seem to consist of musicians with a common cause and something to say. Behind the scenes, it can be a very different story, which can be an angry one that belies the united front that the guys on the album cover are depicting.

Money can be an issue. Interpersonal problems can intrude. An essential band member can run off to Tibet for spiritual fulfillment and never return. Many things can cause a band to break up, and often, the reasons for the fracture were avoidable, preventable, or just plain dumb.

Here are some of the dumbest band breakups in the history of recorded music. You may be astonished to see what petty nonsense took down some of your favorites.

Editor’s Note: This list was created based on the opinions of the author. The choices presented are subjective and can vary depending on personal preferences and perspectives.

1. Simon & Garfunkel

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s final album, 1970’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” was their most successful, but the pair broke up soon after due to what their manager Mort Lewis called a “toxic rivalry.” Things came to a head when Garfunkel was cast in a movie, taking him away from the group for months. Simon bristled, and in the biography, “Paul Simon: The Life,” he told author Robert Hilman, “I think if Artie had become a big movie star, he would have left. Instead of just being the guy who sang Paul Simon songs, he could be Art Garfunkel, a big star all by himself… I could still be the guy who wrote songs and sing them. I didn’t need Artie.”

2. The Eagles

The Eagles trafficked in feel-good 70s rock, but things were more punk rock behind the scenes. In 1980, tensions between the band members were unbearable, and according to guitarist Don Felder’s 2007 memoir “Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974–2001),” the situation bottomed out when singer Glenn Frey threatened him with physical bodily harm while the band was onstage in the middle of a performance. A few days later, their producer, Bill Szymczyk, called Felder and said, “There is no band at this time.”

3. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

The members of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young always had spotty relationships with one another, causing the band to break up more than once. By the 2000s, they had put their differences aside, and things seemed to be going smoothly until bandmate Neil Young started dating actor Daryl Hannah. For reasons best known to him, David Crosby told the Idaho Statesman in 2014 that Hannah was a “purely poisonous predator” and while he apologized grievously to both Young and Hannah, the damage was irreparable. Crosby passed away in 2023, making the breakup of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young permanent.

4. Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s personnel changed numerous times before its most famous lineup took shape, which included guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks. The band became massively popular, but personal tensions tore it apart behind the scenes, and they broke up and reformed several times. What finally fractured the lineup was when Nicks gave a speech at a 2018 benefit concert, and Buckingham reportedly “smirked” at one point. Two days later, he got a call from manager Irving Azoff, who said that because of that offense, Nicks never wanted to perform with him again. Keyboard player Christine McVie passed away in 2022, likely bringing this band to the end of the road.

5. The Everly Brothers

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to keep business and family separate. This is precisely what the Everly Brothers failed to do, and while they produced classic records with heavenly harmonies, they had significant interpersonal problems that came to a head at a 1973 performance at Knott’s Berry Farms, where Don Everly said he had consumed too many adult beverages before going onstage, leading him to turn in a performance so impaired, his brother Phil destroyed his guitar and stormed offstage. It was an entire decade before they would perform together again.

6. Oasis

Seriously, don’t form a band with a family member. Brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher were famously combative with one another even before they formed the band Oasis, but the antipathy went into overdrive when they were on the road. In a profanity-laced account, Noel Gallagher said that moments before the band was to go onstage for a 2009 performance in Paris, his brother took a swing at him with a guitar, prompting Noel to quit the group. Did we mention that mixing family and business is not a great idea?

7. The Pixies

If you have to deliver bad news to somebody, use the personal touch. Do it in person if you can or by phone, if you must, but whatever happens, don’t deliver the bad news by email or text, especially if it’s about a breakup. In 1993, the Pixies had just ended a long tour and intended to go on a sabbatical, but de facto leader Black Francis had other plans. Since he didn’t yet have advanced technology like an iPhone, he broke the news of the band’s breakup during a BBC Radio interview. This was news to the other band members, who later received the bad news via fax.

8. Deep Purple

Deep Purple suffered multiple breakups, making it challenging to say which breakup was the dumbest. For this list, we’re going with their first, in 1976. Founding guitarist Ritchie Blackmore – the guy who wrote the “Smoke on the Water” riff – had left the group and was replaced by Tommy Bolin. Sadly, unbeknownst to the band, Bolin was nursing a substance abuse problem, and the concerts got worse as the band toured and his troubles intensified. After a particularly embarrassing show, singer David Coverdale went backstage and told keyboard player Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice that he was quitting the band, to which they responded that there was no band to quit – they had already decided to end it earlier that night.

9. Black Sabbath

Heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath broke up a few times, but the band’s split with singer Ronnie James Dio in 1982 was probably the stupidest instance. The band was mixing a live album, and according to guitarist Tony Iommi, the mixing engineer had said that Dio was sneaking back into the studio and changing the mix to make himself louder. This turned out to be untrue, but Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler believed it, so Black Sabbath “broke up because of that,” according to the guitarist.

10. Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the most successful bands of the 1960s. Their albums and singles regularly went into the top 10 and consistently received critical acclaim, but 1972’s “Mardi Gras” was poorly received, with critic Jon Landau calling it “the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band.” It wasn’t the only reason the band broke up, but primary songwriter John Fogerty had allowed his bandmates to contribute songs to the record, with subpar results that gave him the impetus to break up. Still, doing that because of a single lousy album seems like an overreaction. After all, some bands make nothing but terrible albums and have stayed together for decades!

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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