The Most Devastating Band Break Ups Of The Past Decade

Music is a volatile profession, and fame is a fickle mistress. Even solo musicians can choke up artistically, or find the pressures of the business side of things too much to handle, or simply get lost in a giant pile of narcotics until they forget their own name, let alone the chords to their songs. Imagine, then, how hard bands have it. They are only able to work because of the tricky interpersonal chemistry of multiple people who all try to navigate the pitfalls of the music business ... and if one wheel falls, the whole vehicle is at risk of ending up in a ditch.

As such, bands break up all the time. Sometimes, this happens because some members of the group start enjoying the "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll" trifecta a little bit too much to function. Other times, "creative differences" drive them apart. However, every once in a while a band breaks up in a manner that's so strange, dramatic, high-profile, or just plain shocking to the fans that the mere memory makes them cringe. Let's take a look at some of the most devastating band break ups of the past decade. 

One Direction was a victim of interpersonal tensions

Every generation has its own boy band, and for the kids who were at the appropriate age (or just people who liked a catchy tune) between 2010 and 2015, the undisputed king of boy bands was One Direction. In 2015, however, the dream ended — not with a bang, but with a whimper. As Insider tells us, Zayn Malik was the first to go, and after an attempt to continue as a four-piece, the other band members announced a hiatus later that year. 

While the group has never technically broken up — or rather, they've stated that their "break" is not necessarily permanent — it certainly seems that at least some of the band members have had enough of each other for a lifetime or six. According to the BBC, the group quietly dissolved Rollcall Touring (the company jointly owned by the band members that took care of their tours) in 2018, and as Cosmopolitan notes, various One Direction members have thrown copious shade at each other ever since Malik exited the group. So, while money is a powerful lubricant that may one day help facilitate the former One Directioners into a Backstreet Boys-style reunion (or at least a Spice Girls-style tour every once in a while), for now it seems ... well, less than likely. 

The pressure was too much for My Chemical Romance

In 2013, super-popular emo band My Chemical Romance broke up in a particularly strange way. As NME tells us, none of the members really wanted to dissolve the group, and they were even quite distraught about the fact that it was happening. Nevertheless, everyone agreed that the best thing they could do was move on. "It was time," band leader Gerard Way commented. "I think because it was so special and it was such an amazing thing... to keep going and let it rust out on the rails? That was not the way that band was supposed to go out."

As Kerrang! notes, laying My Chemical Romance to rest was neither quite as noble nor permanent an undertaking as Way's comments made it seem — in 2019, the band confirmed they would be playing some much-rumored comeback shows, and Way elaborated on the reasons they broke up in the first place. In the end, it was all about pressure: When the band became extremely successful, everyone suddenly started to "have an opinion" about what they should have been, and Way and his bandmates simply found this too much.  

REM simply had enough

As Rolling Stone tells us, the world lost one of history's most popular mainstream indie acts in 2011 when R.E.M. announced they would split up after 31 years in the game. While it's not out of the ordinary for band members to want to explore other walks of life after over three decades together, the break up of R.E.M. was almost shocking in its sheer amicability. In fact, the band members themselves seemed rather surprised how organically the split came. After they wrapped their last album, Collapse into Now, they just realized that its songs seemed like a good way to wrap up their career ... so that's precisely what they did. They remained on great terms throughout the closing of the door, as bassist Mike Mills describes the process: "We feel kind of like pioneers in this. There's no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off. We've made this decision together, amicably and with each other's best interests at heart. The time just feels right."

In reality, there was at least some animosity bubbling under the surface, though it wasn't directed at anything about the band. As Billboard writes, guitarist Peter Buck eventually revealed that the main reason he wanted to call it a day was that he had grown sick and tired" of the music industry, and wanted nothing to do with it anymore.

Even Jack White doesn't know why the White Stripes broke up

As Spin reminds us, the White Stripes had been on a hiatus for several years before they finally broke up in 2011. The official announcement by the duo of Jack and Meg White (or their management, anyway) made it clear that both musicians were on good terms with each other and in fine health. Instead, it posited that the band had broken up because of "a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band have it stay that way." Aww. The statement went on to say: "The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want." Double aww. 

Were things really that cozy, though? According to Digital Spy and Rolling Stone, Jack White has said that he doesn't really have any idea why they broke up, as the decision was instigated by the "stubborn" Meg White who refused to elaborate on her decision. By 2014, the two were rarely in contact thanks to Meg's reclusive nature, and Jack also says that the chance for their reunion is pretty much impossible. However, it must be noted that Meg White almost certainly didn't break up the band out of malice, seeing as she is said to suffer from "acute anxiety," which even caused them to end a tour early in 2007. Being one half of a world-famous, critically acclaimed band probably didn't mesh too well with that.

Sonic Youth ended with a divorce

The thing about bands is that they rely on their members getting along with each other. The thing about marriages is that they sometimes end in divorce. Now, imagine a marriage that ends in a messy divorce ... and the soon-to-be-exes are the core couple of a famous band. Ouch, right?

As Spin and Billboard tell us, such was the fate of Sonic Youth, the beloved alt-rock band that imploded in 2011 when its leading figures, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, decided to get a divorce. It later transpired that the marriage ended because of Moore's infidelity, which placed much of the blame on his shoulders in the eyes of the public — and certainly in the eyes of Gordon, who described the events quite bluntly in her memoir, Girl in a Band. Moore, on the other hand, says he would have wanted to keep the band going, and finds it strange that he's the one being "demonized" over their split.  

Disloyalty broke up Rilo Kiley

In 2011, as Stereogum tells us, indie rock band Rilo Kiley broke up after 13 years. While the general reason for this appeared to be your average "band members not getting along anymore" sort of deal, this particular break-up turned particularly graphic thanks to guitar player Blake Sennett (pictured second on the right), who had some interesting commentary about whatever the behind-the-curtains situation may have been. According to Rolling Stone, Sennett didn't exactly think highly of his bandmates: "I just felt like there was a lot of deception, disloyalty, greed and things I don't really want to submit myself to," he commented. "I had related that frustration to music but I just thought, 'I'm not going to put myself in that position again,' so I said, 'F*** that, I can't do this anymore.'" Ouch. 

While Sennett didn't elaborate on which particular band member (or members) he was talking about, or quote any specific incidents that prompted such harsh words, it's probably safe to assume this wasn't exactly a case of a bassist eating his clearly labeled sandwich from the studio fridge. Curiously, the other three members of Rilo Kiley had no comments, and for a while it seemed that they might just keep going without Sennett, but seeing as nothing appears to have come of that, it seems they were also happy to let the band go the way of the dodo. 

A blackmail scandal destroyed GLAM

Like any other musical genre, K-pop has had its share of band break-ups, but one of the most dramatic was certainly the disbanding of the girl group GLAM. As AllKpop tells us, the up-and-coming band hit a very peculiar hurdle in 2014, when GLAM member Dahee hatched a weird plot with a model called Lee Ji Yeon. The duo attempted to blackmail actor Lee Byung Hun (who you may know as Storm Shadow in the G.I.Joe franchise and T-1000 in Terminator: Genisys) with "a video file of a lewd conversation," but were promptly caught. 

The women claimed that the plot was an act of revenge because Lee Byung Hun had dumped Lee Ji Yeon, but it soon turned out that the two Lees had likely never been intimately involved and the ladies were merely trying to make a quick profit. Unfortunately for them, the only thing they received was a stint in prison — one year for Dahee, a year and two months for Lee Ji Yeon. The whole scandal spelled doom for GLAM, too. As AllKpop notes, their break up was announced the very same day Dahee received her sentence. 

Children of Bodom were left without a name to call their own

In 2019, Consequence of Sound reported that the popular melodic death metal Children of Bodom was "parting ways" with no less than three of its five members. Drummer Jaska Raatikainen, bassist Henkka T. Blacksmith, and keyboardist Janne Wirman had been with the band for 25 years, so their departure would doubtlessly affect the band's sound more than a little. But hey, at least the band's leader, singer-guitarist Alexi Laiho, is still in the band. 

There's just one problem: According to Consequence of Sound, the band he is in might not be Children of Bodom anymore. Oddly enough, the rights to the name "Children of Bodom" belong to a company called AA & Sewira Consulting Oy, which in turn belongs to ... the three band members who quit. What's more, they filed the paperwork for the rights shortly before they announced their departure. Hmm. 

Laiho seems surprisingly cool about the potential loss of his band name. He admits there has been tension within the band, and that the fighting was largely his own fault. He has also apparently readied himself to perform under a different name if need be — possibly just "Bodom." Seeing as keyboardist Wirman has made vague comments that seem to hint that the three departing band members may intend to put the "Children of Bodom" name to use after their last concert obligations are over, who knows? Maybe the new decade will see not just one, but two Bodom-themed bands shredding away all across the globe. 

Ghost and the breakup that wasn't

Ghost are a peculiar and secretive band that consists of a group of masked Nameless Ghouls and various incarnations of a satanic pope vocalist/mascot known as Papa Emeritus (and, more recently, Cardinal Copia). Therefore, it was fitting that their "break up" in 2017 was equally strange. According to Blabbermouth, the musicians behind the Nameless Ghoul masks unexpectedly filed a lawsuit against the singer, revealed their own identities and accusing their frontman of shenanigans. The gist of the suit was that Papa Emeritus, whom the lawsuit outed as Swedish musician Tobias Forge, had "shamelessly" tried to turn the band into his own "solo project."    

Bad, greedy demon pope, right? Not so fast! As Metal Injection tells us, further information from the ex-Ghouls and Forge himself soon made it look a lot like the whole "solo project" thing might have some legitimacy, after all. It transpired that Ghost had been a revolving door of Ghouls since the beginning, with roughly 10 musicians donning the masks over the years. What's more, Forge also sometimes used session musicians for recording who didn't actually play with the live lineup of the group, which ate further into the legitimacy of the whole "we're a normal band" claim. 

As Loudwire notes, the law was ultimately on Forge's side. the ex-Ghouls lost the lawsuit, and Forge continues to pilot Ghost with a fresh set of Nameless Ghouls ... presumably, ones with much more clearly defined contracts.   

Crystal Castles harbored a terrible secret

In 2014, the popular electro-punk duo Crystal Castles broke up when singer Alice Glass left the band with a characteristically loud, but extremely serious bang. As the Guardian tells us, Glass pulled out of Crystal Castles with a long statement that graphically described a decade's worth of psychological, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse she had allegedly suffered at the hands of her controlling bandmate, Claudio "Ethan Kath" Palmieri. According to Glass, Palmieri (who is 10 years older than her) started the abuse when she was 15, and went on to control every aspect of her life, from her public image to her personal life and even diet. It wasn't until #MeToo and the fall of Harvey Weinstein that she found the strength to permanently tear herself away from both Palmieri and their band. 

Palmieri, on his part, has denied all of Glass' accusations and sued her for defamation. However, Pitchfork tells us that this case was promptly dismissed in 2018, and the Star notes that several other women have also come forward with criminal complaints against him.

The Orwells disbanded because of abuse allegations

In 2018, an anonymous Reddit post alleged that the Orwells weren't kidding when they named their third album Terrible Human Beings. As the Independent tells us, the post detailed a number of severe abuse allegations against the group's singer Mario Cuomo, and twin brothers bassist Grant Brinner and drummer Henry Brinner. Nameless, yet uncomfortably detailed accusations that the majority of your band hasn't been playing nice with its female fanbase is rarely great news to anyone involved (especially the several alleged victims of abuse), and as the media started picking up the story, the Orwells discovered they were up to their ears in hot water. 

As NME reports, the band soon issued a statement that admitted some "callow altercations and vulgar language" in the past, but also adamantly stated: "We emphatically deny these baseless allegations brought as a personal attack against us." It also urged people who feel wronged by band members to reach out "properly and privately" instead of public social media posts, and announced the cancellation of an upcoming show. However, this evidently proved to be insignificant damage control for accusations this vast, and the next day, the Orwells announced on Twitter that they had disbanded.