Music's 30 Fiercest Feuds and Beefs

From classic-rock squabbles to hip-hop diss tracks and social media wars, here are the ridiculous, rancorous conflicts that have held us rapt

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Keith Richards vs. Elton John
Keith RIchards and Elton John Graham Wiltshire, Terry O'Neill/Getty7/30

Keith Richards vs. Elton John

"Lovely bloke," Richards said of John in a 1988 Rolling Stone interview, "but posing." The venomous dig was prompted by John's recent single, "I Don't Wanna Go On with You Like That," but some wondered if Keef harbored a grudge against John for outstaying his welcome during a guest appearance – which stretched to 10 songs – at a 1975 Rolling Stones concert in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Whatever the cause of the rift, Richards didn't hold back when asked his thoughts on "Candle in the Wind 1997," John's musical elegy for friend Princess Diana. Though profits from the single were donated to charity, Richards said the rewrite of John's 1973 tribute to Marilyn Monroe "did jar a bit" in an October 1997 interview with Entertainment Weekly. "Songs for Dead Blondes," he pronounced. "I'd find it difficult to ride on the back of something like that myself, but Reg [John's birth name] is showbiz." He echoed the sentiment a short time later and took aim at John's theatrical stage style.

John fought back in an interview published by the Daily News that same month. "I'm glad I've given up drugs and alcohol. It would be awful to be like Keith Richards. He's pathetic, poor thing. It's like a monkey with arthritis, trying to go onstage and look young. I have great respect for the Stones but they would have been better if they had thrown Keith out 15 years ago. … I just think he's an asshole and I have for a long time." He also refuted the accusations of Vegas-level theatrics. "Please, if the Rolling Stones aren't show business, then what is? You know, with their inflatable naked women."

John went on the offensive in 2011 when he criticized Richards' recent autobiography, Life, which featured some unflattering details about Jagger's anatomy. "I was a bit put off by hearing about the bit about Mick Jagger's penis," he said. "If I said that [songwriting partner] Bernie Taupin was a miserable twat and had a small penis, he'd probably never talk to me again. It's like, why do that?"

Relations between the two rock icons thawed in September 2015, when fellow Stone Ronnie Wood was able to broker a truce long enough for Richards and John to pose for a photo at the GQ Awards in London.

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