Why These Pop Stars Really Left Their Popular Groups

Despite all the perks that come with being in a famous band, there's a lot of pressure, too. The lifestyle isn't for everyone. You're on the road all the time, you give up a lot in your personal life, and you have to deal with living in the pockets of a few other people. Then there are disagreements over who gets to sing more, who gets to write songs, who gets to talk in interviews. When you have up to half a dozen egos competing, tempers can flare. And that's before you even get into dealing with management.

So it's no surprise that sometimes a member of a successful group will decide it isn't worth it anymore. Whether they want to go solo or have a life outside showbiz or are dealing with medical problems or even want to hunt for UFOs, there are plenty of reasons band members decide to jump ship.

Zayn Malik couldn't be authentic in One Direction

One Direction was the first smash hit boy band for a new generation. The five young heartthrobs were combined into a group on a British singing competition in 2010, including Zayn Malik. But five years and many hits later, Zayn suddenly pulled out of performing with the other guys in two shows, according to E! Less than a week went by before he announced he was done with the band for good, saying in a statement, "I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight."

Later that year, two of his ex-bandmates said in a TV interview that One Direction was "never really Zayn's kind of bag" and that his taste in music was different than what they put out. They said they thought that's what made him leave in the end.

But in 2016, Zayn opened up with more details about how hard it was being in the boy band. He told Complex he wasn't allowed to grow a beard (although he eventually did anyway) or dye his hair. His reputation as the "mysterious one" came from the fact he wasn't really allowed to speak in interviews. It resulted in him being frustrated with the band, and the feeling that he couldn't be authentic made him realize he had to get out.

Camila Cabello chose a solo career over Fifth Harmony

Fifth Harmony was formed by Simon Cowell on The X-Factor in the U.S. They were supposed to be the female response to One Direction, and they saw huge success for five years. But one minute everything seemed fine, and then it imploded.

In 2016, Camila Cabello's bandmates released a statement saying she had told them she was leaving "through her representatives," according to the New York Times. Cabello responded, Glamour reports, with her own statement claiming the whole group had talked about her going solo many times and that she was leaving to work on her own music. But her bandmates weren't having that and said Cabello was lying and that she "refused" to meet with them to discuss future plans for the group. It was a messy breakup.

A couple months later, Cabello told an interviewer that Fifth Harmony hadn't been the "maximum expression" of herself as an individual. In 2018 she told the New York Times her solo single with Shawn Mendes while still in the group caused tension, and that when she asked to help write songs for the band she was shot down. She started attending writing sessions with big-name producers anyway, until she was given an ultimatum, she says. She was told flat-out she couldn't pursue solo endeavors while in Fifth Harmony, so she decided to leave. There were hard feelings on both sides.

Geri Halliwell felt redundant in the Spice Girls

The Spice Girls were a force of nature. Bursting onto the scene with "Wannabe" in 1996, their girl power took over the world. But only two years later, Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) announced she was leaving the group.

This was especially shocking because they were in the middle of a world tour. Bustle reports at the time, Geri said she was quitting "because of differences between us" but went on "I am sure the group will continue to be successful and I wish them all the best." She claimed to have no "immediate plans," although she released solo work just a year later.

In a 2007 documentary, she talked about realizing she was going to leave. She suddenly felt during a performance that it would be the last time she was on stage with the rest of the group. She said, "I'd given all I could. I felt like I didn't belong anymore. They didn't need me anymore, really, and I definitely felt very redundant." But according to Vanity Fair she threw in another reason in a 2010 interview. Apparently, during the tour Geri was asked to give a solo interview about breast cancer and was told she couldn't do it. So she felt she had "no other choice" but to leave the group.

Tom DeLonge thought Blink-182 was less important than UFOs

Blink-182 blew up right at the turn of the millennium and made a name for themselves as a funny and irreverent band. Despite a few years off, they were going strong in 2015 when the band announced guitarist Tom DeLonge was leaving the band "indefinitely," according to Rolling Stone. They said he kept putting off recording a new album with them until they finally got an email from his manager saying he wouldn't be participating in band stuff anymore so he could "work on his other non-musical endeavors." They later said DeLonge was "ungrateful" and "disingenuous."

But the way DeLonge sees it, he didn't have much choice but to leave. He told Mic in 2016 that touring nine months a year didn't leave him time to deal with a "national security issue," meaning UFOs. He started a "multimedia franchise" that planned to release novels, nonfiction books, movies, documentaries, and music, all with the aim of investigating "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena."

And DeLonge is dead serious about how important this is. In a 2019 interview he said his aim is discoveries that will "revolutionize the human experience," "change the path that humanity is on," and "change the world for [his] kids and everybody else's." He said he quit Blink-182 so he could look back as an old man and be proud of these achievements.

Kevin Richardson wanted a family outside the Backstreet Boys

The Backstreet Boys were one of the biggest groups of the '90s boy band era, dominating the charts with their pop songs and ballads, plus indulging in a healthy rivalry with NSYNC. But after 13 years of superstardom, one member was done.

People reported that Kevin Richardson released a statement on the band's website in 2006 saying he was leaving the group and that the decision was "necessary in order to move on with the next chapter of my life." There was no fallout with his bandmates, who released their own statement saying Richardson could rejoin anytime.

He eventually did return in 2012, and a year later told Access Hollywood more about why he took a break from performing. Richardson said that in 2006, he "didn't have anything left in the tank" and "didn't feel inspired." Plus, "there were some things [he] wanted to do in [his] own life" like "start a family and be normal for a while." He got his wish, having a son with his wife in 2007. The six years away were just what he needed, and he said he rejoined because he finally "felt inspired and wanted to create again and make music again."

Farrah Franklin had problems with the manager of Destiny's Child

Destiny's Child went through a couple lineup changes before emerging as the trio everyone knows and loved. While some members were fired, Farrah Franklin quit on her own.

Franklin was originally just an extra in the "Bills, Bills, Bills" music video, according to the Daily Beast. But Mathew Knowles, the group's manager (and Beyoncé's father) invited her to become a member. It would only last six months. Beyoncé went on MTV and said the group fired her because she failed to show up for three promotional tours.

But Franklin tells a different story. She says she got very sick with the flu and came back to work against her doctor's orders. There was a team meeting where no one showed any concern (except Michelle) and they all started "ganging up" on her, and she felt metaphorically "kicked and punched around." Mathew Knowles got "kind of loud." The Grapevine adds that she said she never missed a single show because she quit before those events, and Beyoncé was just lying.

After her stint in Destiny's Child she was arrested numerous times, and her career failed to really go anywhere. That might be why she told TMZ in 2018 that she'd be willing to be part of a four-member reunion in the future.

Jermaine Jackson picked his in-laws over the Jackson 5

The Jackson 5 caught the eye of Motown Records after winning an amateur music competition in 1968. They signed a contract, and the collaboration was hugely successful for both parties.

But in 1975, the Jackson 5 held a press conference to announce they were leaving Motown for Epic Records. A New Yorker article from the time mentions 10 members of the Jackson family were present, but not Jermaine. Jermaine, it seemed had "not yet decided to leave Motown."

The problem was divided loyalties. While the Jacksons might have been his family, Motown was too by then. Jermaine married Hazel Gordy, the daughter of Motown founder Berry Gordy, in 1973. Ditching his powerful father-in-law wouldn't be easy. Jackson 5 ABC says Berry promised to heavily promote Jermaine's solo career, which had been up and down for a few years. In the end, he decided to remain loyal to Motown. His brothers, now down one member, changed the name of their group to The Jacksons.

At the 1975 press conference, Joe Jackson, the patriarch of the family, said he was sure Jermaine would rejoin the group but that it would "take a while." It would be nine years before Jermaine performed with them again, shortly after he finally left Motown. He must have emotionally put the whole Gordy family behind him at that point because it wasn't long before Hazel discovered he was cheating on her. They divorced in 1988.

John Lennon had outgrown the Beatles

The Beatles had been having issues for a while by the time John Lennon decided to leave. Then in 1969, he and Yoko Ono were invited to a music festival. According to Beatles Bible, the promoters just wanted them as kind of MCs, but John insisted on playing. He threw together the Plastic Ono Band literally overnight, and at almost the same moment realized it was time to leave the Beatles. He told the band's business manager on the way to the festival, "It's over."

When he got back, he told Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. (George Harrison was away visiting his mom). Manila Standard says John blurted out "I want a divorce" and "the group's over." Paul later wrote that at the announcement they "paled visibly," but that he'd "known it was coming at some point because of his intense involvement with Yoko," that John needed to "end the Beatles period and start the Yoko period." It wasn't until it started to sink in later that the situation "got really upsetting." While it sounds like he's blaming Yoko for John's departure, in a 2012 interview, Paul said she "certainly didn't break the group up," that "it was time" for John to leave, and the band had "come full circle."

Because they convinced John not to announce he'd quit, the media later reported it was Paul who decided to leave the Beatles first.

Michael McCary's medical issues ended his time with Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men dominated the charts in the 90s, and the most distinctive things about them was the deep bass voice belonging to Michael McCary. But their success waned, and in 2003, McCary left the group for undisclosed reasons.

Then in 2014, the remaining three members of Boyz II Men gave an interview to Huffington Post Live and pulled no punches in telling their version of the story. Saying McCary was "always an odd guy" they claimed being in the group "wasn't in his heart." The things he did enjoy were the "wrong parts" and they said he didn't like rehearsing and wouldn't show up. Then he stopped coming to gigs sometimes. When their record sales took a hit, he just "gave up." They did mention McCary had some sort of back problem, but nothing that would stop him performing.

But in 2016, McCary had a very different version of events. He went on Iyanla: Fix My Life and told the host he'd been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 22. This resulted in back spasms that started off small but eventually went "full scale." He said the diagnosis cased problems with the rest of his bandmates, and that in 2003 they "abandoned" him and moved on as a trio. And even years later it hurt, with McCary saying, "I want to be able to go in a room with them and not feel like I want to choke them."

Robbie Williams didn't get to write songs for Take That

While Take That found little success in America, in other parts of the world they were a religion. The boy band was unbelievably popular, especially in their native U.K. So when Robbie Williams announced he was leaving the group in 1995, fans were inconsolable. According to the Independent, at least one teenager in Germany tried to kill herself, and when the remaining members of Take That later announced they were disbanding, a British suicide hotline set up a special number for Take That fans.

Williams later said that his ideas for the musical direction of the band were disregarded. The lead singer insisted they stick to ballads, not dabble in hip-hop and rap like Williams wanted, so he just gave up an "did as he was told." He informed anther interviewer that he told the rest of the guys he would be leaving the group after they finished the tour they were about to begin. But he was drinking heavily at the time and came to a rehearsal with an extreme hangover. One of his bandmates sat him down that day and asked him to leave sooner rather than later. So he did, although to get out of his contract he had to pay £500,000.

Kaya Jones has serious accusations about the Pussycat Dolls

Originally a burlesque troupe, the Pussycats Dolls morphed into a girl group in 2003. Kaya Jones was an original member who worked with them for two years and sang vocals on the first album but left before its release and major chart success. Still, she later tweeted she knew she was walking away from something huge.

Her reasons, however, have changed over the years. In 2012, she told Yahoo! Singapore that her "creativity was stifled." There was friction in the band, and while she said it wasn't only down to lead vocalist Nicole Scherzinger, Jones told TMZ only a few months later that the reason Scherzinger sang lead on everything was she "wanted to be in the spotlight and would do pretty much anything to get it." Performing in the group had stopped being a "happy place" for Jones, so she quit.

But in 2017, her story got a lot darker. In tweets compiled by the Telegraph, Jones said she walked away from her dreams and a $13 million record deal because the Pussycat Dolls were secretly a prostitution ring. She claims the members were "used and abused" and told to sleep with whoever they were told to by higher-ups. While she claimed to have a journal she kept at the time, as yet there isn't proof of her accusations.

Yulhee left LABOUM so she could have a relationship

LABOUM is a K-pop girl group formed in 2014. While they have only found moderate success, they're still going today. But since 2017, they've been without founding member Yulhee, probably thanks to K-pop's demanding rules.

In most cases, K-pop stars are not allowed to date. So it was a shock when Yulhee posted a Facebook status in September 2017 that seemed to pretty much confirm she was seeing Minhwan, a member of FT Island. The post was quickly deleted, but it was too late. Minhwan's management released a statement that they had talked to him and confirmed the relationship (meaning he was hiding it from them before), according to Asian Junkie. While they said the two were simply "getting to know each other," it seemed a lot more serious than that.

Soompi reports that in a statement from LABOUM's agency only a few weeks later, Yulhee told her agency "several times" that she wanted out. It's not a stretch to assume she was told it was her career or her boyfriend, although that's speculation. In her own statement, Yulhee said she "worried about [her] future." She retired from the industry entirely, by January the couple were engaged, and in May they announced they were expecting a child.