This past week saw the news regarding the departure of 76ers point guard Ben Simmons. Simmons brought a lot of baggage with him this season when he did not play a single game with the team. This decision brought out frustrations amongst Philadelphia sports fans, commentators, and players as a result.
With Simmons departure, this caused me to think about all the front men in rock and roll who took similar stances on not playing. This turmoil is usually caused by singers inflated egos and their own selfish desires to be the alpha in the group. These instances created problems for the bands, tensions amongst members, and even in some cases, breakups of the group they played in.
Here is my definitive list of the most problematic front men in rock and the problems that caused the groups to erupt.
#10 Chris and Rich Robinson- The Black Crowes
Having to deal with the ego of one talented singer is a challenge. Though when dealing with the duo of Chris and Rich Robinson, it becomes twice as hard. The duo was quoted by the Gallagher brothers as “having surprised them with their fights”. Chris and Rich would often make decisions that not only harmed themselves but affected everyone in the band. The group once turned down an offer to record a cover of “It’s Only Rock and Roll” for the Armageddon soundtrack due to wanting to focus on recording the By Your Side record. The record charted in the 40’s on the top 100 hundred charts around the world. Armageddon went on to sell over 4 million copies.
More egregiously, the band toured with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. While working on songs for the Lions Page offered his assistance to the Robinsons to help write a song for the record. Chris Robinson turned him down saying that everything was going great. The record charted 20th in the US on the Top 100 and Jimmy Page never spoke with the Robinsons again.
#9 It Ain’t Easy Living Like a Member of Aerosmith
Front man Steven Tyler may have one of the most recognizable voices in rock music. However, he isn’t easy to get along with. Joe Perry knows this because he left the band due to his inability to tolerate Tyler. When Steven and Joe Perry’s girlfriends got into a fight while on tour, Steven according to his biography asked for Joe Perry to “control his woman”. Joe Perry didn’t take that well at all and as a result the two got into an argument over them. Perry would leave the band who were about to record the Night in the Ruts album. Perry came back to the band in 1984 and the rest is history.
#8 George Michael Wants Freedom
While not quite problematic, creative freedom often leads to singer’s departures. Despite Wham’s success, George Michael was growing as a musician. He wanted to make music that reflected where he was currently in life. While making music for teenagers was an easy way to make money, George Michael wanted to make introspective and honest songs that older audiences could relate to. Despite claims that the duo was not getting along, Michael assured that his split with Andrew Ridgley was completely amicable. While not problematic, this shows that when done right, bands can break up for the right reasons.
#7 Mark Knopfler’s So Far Away
A lot of musicians have a lot of opinions on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickenson didn’t think the ceremony was a big deal. Though he may change his tune if the rock hall ever decides to induct him. There have been many cases of band members being noticeably absent from the induction ceremony. However, Mark Knopfler makes this one a particularly tragic case. As is the case with being in a touring band with a family member, tensions always arise. Mark and David Knopfler were a case of such notorious sibling rivalries. They now no longer speak to each other. David walked away during the Making Movies record to pursue a solo career, though Mark refused to credit him on the record. Mark was rumored to have even said his brother didn’t have the commitment to make the Dire Straits the band he had always envisioned it could be. This rivalry resulted in ceremony in which none of the Knopfler brothers attended and no one inducted them.
#6 “Diamond” David Lee Roth’s Living in Paradise
David Lee Roth, known to the world as the guy who wanted only the brown M&M’s as part of his tour rider, left the band over the direction of the music. Despite being in one of the biggest bands in the world with Van Halen, David Lee Roth was not a fan of the group’s current musical direction. During this time, the band was no longer as close as they used to be. Having become different people because of their superstar status, David Lee Roth didn’t want the groups sound to change. Having experimented with keyboards on their smash hit 1984, Eddie Van Halen wanted to double down with that sound on the next record.
David Lee Roth was done with the egos in the band, as well as the change in direction that would be prominent on their next record, 5150. David quit and recorded the album Eat Em’ and Smile, a guitar driven rock record that featured songs like “Yankee Rose”. Lee Roth continued to have a lengthy solo career and recorded other songs such as “Living in Paradise” and a cover of “Just a Gigalo”. David Lee Roth was now truly living in paradise as a solo artist.
#5 Motley Crue’s Tensions are Getting Red Hot
You think that when being in a band like Motley Crue, the antics that they would get into on tour alone would be enough to make anyone want to quit. A band whose singer described the accidental killing of Hanoi Rocks Razzle as “one of the worst days of his life. The key words in that sentence include “one of”, meaning Vince Neil’s dealt with worse when in this band. Despite all the hair-raising antics, fights, near death experiences, a solo career is ultimately what killed Motley Crue. Following Vince Neils departure for a solo career, Motley Crue were in a difficult position. Grunge had taken over as the mainstream musical sound and hair metal was on its way out. Attempting to capitalize on the moment, the band hired John Corrabi as Neil’s replacement and focused on a grunge type of sound for their record. The resulting record saw poor sales and ultimately led to Tommy Lee’s departure in 1999 in pursuit of a solo career. Though the band was able to make things up over time as several reunions were held over the years including one taking place this year.
#4 A Bridge Over Troubled Water
Despite starting out as friends who shared a passion for music in Queens, it would be the same love of music that ultimately would tear Simon and Garfunkel apart. For Art Garfunkel, he had always felt underappreciated in the band. This sentiment had come to a boiling point when he discovered that Paul Simone recorded a record without him in the fifties. The surprise hurt Garfunkel and would eventually sow the seeds for the tension between them over the years. The two would envy each other over the years. This came to a head when Simon was recording solo material and Garfunkel had started an acting career. The duo would break up once again and Paul Simon would describe the situation as “something being broken between them.”
#3 George Harrison quits the Beatles
During the Let It Be sessions captured on the documentary, Get Back, George Harrison had had enough of being in the Beatles. The group was working on Get Back with McCartney finishing the lyrics that day. George Harrison walked out of rehearsals and remained silent for most of the day. Harrison told the band and crew that he would “see them at the clubs”. Following that, he left the band. It wasn’t until negotiations with the groups manager that Harrison would come back and finish recording.
#2 Axl Rose Dines on Turtle Soup
Even Axl Rose is not resistant to Turtle Power. The heroes in a half shell managed to captivate the singer’s imagination, at the worst possible time. Known for being late to his own concerts, Rose decided that the night of a show was the ideal time to watch a movie. The film in question was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of The Ooze. Axl’s attention that night was given to watching the turtles fight the Foot Clan, and he could not be bothered during the movies nearly two hour run length. If this doesn’t sum up who Axl Rose is as a performer, then I don’t know what will.
#1 Derek St. Hubbins causes Spinal Taps fallout
The Patron Saint of Men’s Footwear and front man of 80’s metal group Spinal Tap, is the lists most notorious offender. St. Hubbins caused Nigel Tufnel to leave the group after bringing Tufnel’s crush along for a tour. Along with that incident, he forced an unfortunate audience attending a local puppet show to suffer through “Jazz Odyssey” in its entirety. That alone puts him at the number one spot. Thankfully though, the members of Spinal Tap were able to reunite and patch things up when “Sex Farm” broke into the top ten charts in Japan.