If ever some creative Hollywood screenwriter wanted to fashion a soap opera around the chemistry of a rock ‘n’ roll band, all he or she would have to do is study the inner workings of Fleetwood Mac as inspiration. The romantic relationships that held the band together also threatened to tear it apart. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were the star-crossed lovers that brought the band new life and some of the biggest selling albums in pop music history, but it was also that inner tension that came while documenting their crumbling relationship that damaged both their personal and professional connections.
Buckingham opted to leave the band in 1987, but rejoined following what was originally intended as a one-off reunion benefit for then presidential candidate Bill Clinton. Last year’s eponymous duo album with bandmate Christine McVie seemed to assure the fact that all was well within the Mac camp, so the recent announcement two weeks ago that he had left the band came as a mega-shocker. While no reason was given, insiders say it was due to Buckingham’s difficult temperament and abusive behavior. The song “Go Your Own Way,” written in the aftermath of his break-up with Nicks may offer some indication of his ill will.
With those recent developments in mind, Glide decided to look into some of the other unexpected break-ups and departures that have transpired with various bands over the years.
Brian Wilson — Beach Boys
So how does the co-founder, chief mastermind, songwriter, and eternal inspiration get ousted from his own band…after the group’s much heralded 50th anniversary reunion tour no less? Let’s not forget that we’re talking about a family band — and bond — as well. Wilson’s cousin Mike Love claims that he did not — and could not — fire Wilson, but that he was merely trying to preserve the band’s brand and honor their tour obligations because Wilson was opting out. For his part, Wilson has stated that he’ll likely never work with Love again. Good vibrations? Unlikely…
Brian Jones – The Rolling Stones
Brian Jones was on a steady decline during his last years with the Stones, to the point where he made minimal contributions to Let It Bleed, the band’s final masterpiece of the ‘60s and his last effort with the group overall. Like many rock stars before and since, Jones’ drug problems led to his downfall and in this case, imperilled the Stones’ chances of touring the States. It’s hard to imagine these rock ‘n’ roll outlaws finding one of their own was too out of control, but then again, what are the common bonds? Sex? Drugs? well, yeah. Rock ‘n’ Roll? Of course… And money! Most assuredly so.
Marc Ford – The Black Crowes
Despite a semi-successful solo career as an artist, producer and go-to support player, Marc Ford’s most notable stint in the spotlight came as a member of the Black Crowes. After being given his walking papers during the latter part of 1996, Chris and Rich Robinson cited (what else) substance abuse as the reason for his dismissal. After a stint in rehab, Ford rejoined the band on tour in 2006, only to inform the band that he was leaving two days before the fall portion of the reunion jaunt in order to “protect his sobriety.” Self help speaks for itself.
Don Felder — The Eagles
Don Felder’s departure from the band he helped found ranks as one of the most acrimonious splits in music history. Accelerated egos and struggles for musical control plagued this group from the beginning, causing several rows and an eventual breakup in the mid ‘70s. That’s despite scoring some of the best selling albums of all time. Naturally, the same culprits exacerbated the problem — drugs, alcohol and substance abuse of all kinds. Don Henley, frequently feuding with Glen Frey himself, accused Felder of pairing with new recruit Joe Walsh and attempting to assert control over the band. Things came to a head during a benefit concert for Senator Alan Cranston in California on July 31, 1980, when Felder and Frey nearly came to blows onstage, after which Frey smashed one of his bandmate’s guitars. He was fired (natch) and the band broke up not long after. The band reconvened years later without Felder, and indeed the relationship between Felder and the other members of the group was never resolved.
Jay Bennett — Wilco
It wasn’t substance abuse that doomed Jay Bennett’s stint in Wilco, but instead, attempts at artistic control. Bennett and Jeff Tweedy frequently clashed in the studio, and evidence of the altercations between two were documented in the film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. (An all too apt title perhaps). Things came to a head during the recording of the band’s Foxtrot Hotel, when Bennett and producer Jim O’Rourke clashed over the album’s final mix. Once the album was completed in 2001, Bennett was summarily fired.
Dave Mustaine — Metallica
A founding member of Metallica, arguably one of the most successful metal acts of the ‘80s, Dave Mustaine’s penchant for excess doomed him from the start, ending his relationship with the band even before the release of their signature album Kill ‘Em All. Alcoholism and drug dependency led to repeated episodes of erratic behavior. The breaking point was reached when Mustaine’s dog allegedly scratched the paint on bassist Ron McGoveny’s car, causing James Hetfield to yell at the animal and then give it a good kick to ensure the lesson was learned. Mustaine responded by physically attacking both the aforementioned bandmates. Not surprisingly, he was told to leave the next day. Asking for forgiveness, he was allowed back, only to be dismissed once again after another series of unfortunate erratic episodes. The band packed his gear, drove him to a bus terminal and put him on the next Greyhound headed for L.A. It was an undignified end to a once-promising partnership. Then again, isn’t metal all about the mayhem?
Dickie Betts — The Allman Brothers
Alcoholism repeatedly reared its ugly head when it came to Dickie Betts’ attempt to maintain his place within the Allman Brothers, the band he helped cofound. Although he had the chance to take on the role left by Duane Allman following Allman’s death due to a motorcycle mishap, Betts’ inability to control his drinking problem led to him being replaced at various times throughout the ‘90s, although publicly the departures were attributed to what was termed “personal reasons.” Following his final show with the Allmans in May 2000, he was notified via fax by the remaining original members of the band — Gregg Allman, ButchTrucks and Jaimoe — that his services were no longer needed. He was ordered to get clean, and despite an attempt at arbitration, he was booted from the band for good prior to their Summer Campaign Tour of 2000.
Steve Perry — Journey
Steve Perry’s departure from Journey was attributed to health problems after he broke his hip while hiking in Hawaii. Seeking to delay surgery, he tried to convince the other members of the band to postpone a tour that was intended to promote their Trail By Fire album. After 17 months, colleagues Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon gave him an ultimatum — either get the surgery or leave the band. Perry, resentful and angry about their supposed lack of empathy, opted for the latter.