The real reason these bands broke up

It takes a lot of time, hard work, artistic ability, and good old fashioned luck for a band to jump from the garage to a sold-out stadium tour. But then, all too frequently, those bands of brothers and sisters walk away from the money and fame to split up the band go their separate ways. There are lots of reasons why. Just to name a few, you have creative disagreements, personality clashes, the desire to make a terrible solo album, and Sting being Sting. Here are some bands whose reasons for their splits are as singular as their music.


For a bunch of laid-back California hippies who sang smooth hits like "Peaceful Easy Feeling," certain Eagles were as angry, hostile, and full of rage as their punk rock contemporaries. In July 1980, the band wrapped up its tour promoting The Long Run with a fundraiser in Long Beach, California, for Senator Alan Cranston. Before the show, Cranston personally thanked each Eagle; guitarist Don Felder replied, "You're welcome, Senator," and then added, according to bandmate Glenn Frey, under his breath, "I guess." Frey confronted Felder over his rudeness, and Felder reportedly retorted on stage. Frey later recalled"Felder looks back at me and says, 'Only three more songs 'till I kick your ass, pal.' And I'm saying, 'Great. I can't wait.'" 

However, in his memoir, Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles, Felder claimed that Frey "came over while we were playing 'The Best of My Love' and said: 'F**k you. I'm gonna kick your ass when we get off stage.'" While the evening did not end in any actual Felder-on-Frey or Frey-on-Felder violence, Felder did smash an acoustic guitar backstage. The next day, Eagles bassist Timothy B. Schmit called Frey to see what was up, which is when Frey told him the band was done. But while you can check out of the Eagles, you can never leave — the band reunited for a massively successful tour and live album in 1994.


Sickness has shut down a lot of bands, both in the short term (too drunk or hungover to hit the stage) and in the long term (R.I.P., hundreds of musicians who died from booze and drugs). Devastating, potentially fatal illness shut down Blondie in its prime, putting a premature end to the career of one of the most popular and versatile bands of the late '70s and early '80s. The chief creative team behind the band's success were lead singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, who together wrote Blondie's hits "Heart of Glass," "Dreaming," and "Rapture." They were also romantic partners when Blondie was huge. So much so that when Stein got sick, it consumed Harry's life, too. 

According to the New York Post, around the time of the band's official breakup, Stein was diagnosed with a rare disease called pemphigus vulgaris, which causes painful blistering on the skin, mouth, throat, and lungs. For several years, Stein was out of commission and Harry stayed by his side. "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. Stein and Harry split up in 1989, but reunited — professionally — when Blondie reformed in the late '90s.

The Clash

The Clash was such a politically insightful and incendiary punk band that it was christened (hilariously and ironically, by their big corporate record label) "the only band that matters." But that kind of intensity just can't last, and The Clash sputtered out in 1986. In 1999 frontman Joe Strummer said that members had been "tired. There had been a lot of intense activity in five years. Secondly, I felt we'd run out of idea gasoline." Those are some pretty common and understandable break-up excuses, but Strummer gave another reason: The Clash didn't want to turn into their dads. (Or at least they didn't want to turn into the prior generation's rock 'n' roll dinosaurs.) In 1982, The Clash opened for The Who on one of its many farewell tours. Seeing the only electrifying band play their greatest hits on the nostalgia circuit chilled Strummer. "We saw what The Who were like at the end of their tether. It's a bad scene. You quickly turn into nothing."

Uncle Tupelo

In the late '80s and early '90s, Illinois's own Uncle Tupelo was a pioneering band of the country-inflected, roots-rock "Americana" sound. (You know, that pleasant, inoffensive, jangly guitar music they play in the middle of the day on NPR.) While heavily influential, Uncle Tupelo's most prominent members, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, went on to bigger mainstream success with their subsequent bands, Son Volt and Wilco, respectively. 

So what happened to Uncle Tupelo? Well, Tweedy slowly took creative control of the band, which Farrar didn't like. They stopped talking and drummer Mike Heidorn left, leading to the great schism that resulted in Son Volt and Wilco. But in a 2005 interview with Relix, Farrar suggested there was one more factor: the creep factor. Farrar's girlfriend (now wife) was a woman named Monica Groth, and while she was sleeping one day, Tweedy stroked her hair … and Farrar caught him. "I found out later that he was telling her stuff, like, her loves her," Farrar said. Farrar immediately threatened to leave the band, which deeply upset Tweedy. He hung around for a while, only to quit for good and blow up Uncle Tupelo in 1994, confronting Tweedy when he felt that "the dynamic had changed and it wasn't fun for me anymore." In return, Farrar says, Tweedy called him a "p***y."


"We've all known each other for 30 years," longtime Queensryche singer Geoff Tate told Rolling Stone. "For it to end in such a hostile way, it's just mind-boggling." Tate said the trouble started in early 2012, when Tate and the band's management objected to the rest of the band's decision to turn over its merchandise management to an outside company. That summer, Tate was kicked out of the band because of, according to a press release, "creative differences." Maybe not so much. 

"To have creative differences," Tate quipped to Rolling Stone, "you have to have two entities or more offering up creative ideas. And that just wasn't the case. Queensryche has always been my idea." The proverbial straw that broke the prog-rock camel's back: a pre-show altercation. While backstage at a gig in Brazil, Tate confronted the band about rumors that he was about to get replaced — as various members of management and the road crew had just been fired, all of whom were Tate's relatives. The rest of Queensryche scoffed at the idea, but just before the band hit the stage, Tate says drummer Scott Rockenfield said, "We just fired your whole family and you're next." That's when Tate let his fists do the talking … sort of. "I tried to punch him. I don't think I landed a punch before somebody grabbed me and hauled me to the side." The show went on as planned, but that was it for that version of Queensryche.

The Zombies

The Zombies' 1968 album Odessey and Oracle is stylish, beautiful, and haunting, and tracks like "Time of the Season" frequently pop up in movies to let the audience instantly know, "Hey, this is set in the '60s, man!" At the time of its release, however, the album was a flop. Keyboardist Rod Argent told Express that the band's income further cratered because "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 … or so they thought. 

"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. More than a year later, Argent says a promoter offered the band $1 million to reunite and tour the United States, one of the many places where songs from Odyssey and Oracle had become huge hits. "But by that time," Argent says, "we'd advanced strongly on different paths."

The Everly Brothers

What's the one relationship more intense than that between two siblings? Being in a band together. The Everly Brothers — Don and Phil — were really brothers, were really successful musicians (they had hits in the '50s and '60s like "All I Have to Do is Dream," "Cathy's Clown," and "Bye Bye Love"), and fought and bickered like both. And like many families, they had a horrible, life-changing experience at Knott's Berry Farm. 

Don Everly informed Phil Everly that their July 1973 show at the Los Angeles-area amusement park would be their last as a duo, for he was "tired of being an Everly Brother." Then Don showed up so drunk that a park manager tried to stop the show. That got Phil Everly so bad that he left the stage, smashing his guitar on the way. Don, somehow, finished the show by himself. A fan asked, "Where's Phil?" To which Don replied, "The Everly Brothers died 10 years ago." But the group really died right there and then. 

They did reunite on occasion, however. They played a single show at Royal Albert Hall in London in 1983, and in 2003, Paul Simon recruited the Everly Brothers to tour with Simon and Garfunkel. "Don and Phil hadn't seen each other in about three years," Simon told Rolling Stone. "They met in the parking lot before the first gig."

Jane's Addiction

Jane's Addiction was one of the first "alternative rock" bands, pioneering the form in which Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins would become superstars. But recording their 1990 breakthrough hit Ritual de lo Habitual was so tension-fraught that the band agreed to hit the road for the first Lollapalooza tour in 1991 (organized by Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell) and then break up. That was probably for the best: Jane's Addiction's set on the first Lollapalooza ended early because Farrell and guitarist Dave Navarro got into a fight in front of thousands of fans. 

Another major contributor to the group's demise: differing viewpoints about the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. When Dean Kuipers of cool music bible Spin profiled the band in 1991, he presented a group split into two camps: Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins were down to party and party hard; Navarro and bassist Eric Avery had kicked heroin and were desperate to stay clean. The band's bus even had a special drug-free "safe space" where Navarro and Avery could hang out and just … not do drugs. By 1992, Jane's Addiction was done, although, like most successful bands that split, they've reunited a few times.

Adam and the Ants

There have been lots of bands where the look was important as the sound. A Flock of Seagulls and their bizarre haircuts, for example, or Adam and the Ants dressing like pirates for some reason. But for the first iteration of Adam Ant's punky/New Wave band, the substance matched the style — the band's debut record Dirk Wears White Sox sold well, and besides, they had to be good if somebody tried to poach most of the musicians. Sex Pistols manager and controversy hound Malcolm McLaren also handled Adam and the Ants, but when he quit in 1980, he convinced everyone in Adam and the Ants who wasn't named Adam — Leigh Gorman, Dave Barbarossa, and Matthew Ashman — to join him. McLaren used them to create a new band called Bow Wow Wow. McLaren, forever believing the maxim that there's no such thing as bad press, installed a scantily-clad teenager named Annabella Lwin as the group's singer. That group is best known today for its cover of the '60s pop song "I Want Candy," while Ant found some more guys with cool pirate shirts to be his new Ants.