Behind the Feuds: Five Lead Singers Who Battled Their Lead Guitar Players

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Being in a rock band is hard.

Not only is it hard to make it as a group, but it can also be hard to even maintain pleasantries within the unit even if you do. There are competing visions of the band, competing egos, and even competitions over the spotlight and romantic interests.

And add money into the mix, and goodness, there are a lot of avenues to cause problems.

That reality is the subject of this inquiry here today. We will dive into five feuds between famous lead singers and famous guitar players that shook the core of their respective groups.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the infighting.

1. Axl Rose and Slash (Guns N’ Roses)

Axl Rose is no strange to a feud. He’s battled everyone from Nirvana to Tommy Hilfiger. And that extends to his lead guitar player, the top hat-wearing Slash. Their tension came to a head when Rose decided to nix a guitar track from Slash in favor of his own friend, Paul Tobias, on a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil.” That prompted Slash to quit the group. But the infighting might have begun with Slash agreeing to work with Michael Jackson, who Rose did not like given the many accusations levied against Jackson. Thankfully, more recently, Rose and Slash have buried the hatchet and are making music again together.

2. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have known each other for some 70 years, having grown up together and gone to school together early on. But things haven’t always been peaches and ice cream between the two Hall of Famers. The two almost broke up The Rolling Stones. The two began to feud in the 1980s after Richard began to think Jagger was unbearable. Richards even called Jagger “Her Majesty.” They’ve barked at one another in interviews and memoirs. And while there still seem to be scars and even a little tension between the two, they continue to work together and tour as one of the biggest bands in the world.

3. Paul McCartney and George Harrison (The Beatles)

One of the revelations in the recent docu-series from Oscar Award-winning director Peter Jackson, The Beatles: Get Back, was that the band’s lead guitarist George Harrison went as far as to quit the band at some point during their work on the album Let It Be. Harrison, annoyed at Paul McCartney’s constant micro-managing, became so fed up that he bounced and went home. The former Mop Tops were able to reconcile, going to Harrison’s home to, essentially, beg for forgiveness before finishing the album at London’s Apple Studios. But it almost never happened.

4. Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley (KISS)

For all intents and purposes, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are the core two when it comes to the face-painting band, KISS. But this has historically been hard for lead guitar player Ace Frehley (and drummer Peter Criss). The band has fought over contract disputes, writing credits, and other business decisions. So much so that Frehley refused to play in the band past their then-farewell tour in 2000 and 2001. Now, though, Frehley still plays with the group but it’s been touch and go for decades.

5. Johnny and Joey Ramone (The Ramones)

Being in a band is hard, being in a band with family might be even harder. Guitarist Johnny Ramone famously battled with frontman Joey. And what brought it to a head was a fight over a woman. The two fought over Linda Ramone. Joey was the first to date her but she later married Johnny. Joey didn’t like this and while the band toured, the issue rose its ugly head. The whole thing created a big divide between the two musicians. So much so that Johnny didn’t call Joey while the vocalist was on his deathbed, eventually succumbing to cancer.

Leave a Reply

Have Your “Running Up That Hill” Moment with Spotify’s New ‘Stranger Things’ Playlist

5 Guitars on Sale Ahead of Prime Day