Home Music Music Lists

The 10 Messiest Band Breakups

The bitter ends of the Clash, the Police, Guns N’ Roses and more

rage against the machine messy breakups

Mick Hutson/Redferns

A rock band can be a lot like a romantic relationship. People meet, sparks fly and, hopefully, magic is made. Some of these relationships end quickly, some last for decades, and some end in a flurry of lawsuits, flying fists and misguided solo projects. Here are 10 bands that went through particularly painful splits. Here's hoping your relationships fare better than these. 

Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, Frank Black, David Lovering, The Pixies

Clayton Call/Redferns

The Pixies

If the Pixies had survived another couple of years, they could have become huge. Their first two albums are some of the greatest music to come out of the Eighties, but they had the misfortune of being way ahead of their time. When America was finally ready to embrace "alternative" music, they were barely on speaking terms. Simply put, frontman Black Francis and bassist Kim Deal didn't get along very well.

They met when Deal responded to an ad in a newspaper seeking a bassist, and thus had no real relationship outside the band. The fans fell in love with Deal, and Francis got jealous. He froze her out of their later albums, causing her to launch the Breeders as a side project. That band started to take off, and by 1992 Black Francis had quite enough of life in a band. Making matters worse, the Pixies agreed to open for U2 on the first leg of their Zoo TV tour. The tour became an endless slog, and the band grew weary of playing to half-empty arenas of bored U2 fans.The following year Francis faxed his bandmates to tell them it was over. Over the next decade, he didn't speak to Deal once. 

Parker Lundgren, Michael Wilton, Geoff Tate, Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield, Queensryche

Larry Marano/Getty Images

Queensryche

The members of Eighties metal band Queensryche dispute exactly what happened on April 14, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but they all agree their long-simmering issues finally boiled over into a full-fledged physical altercation. The incident started with a meeting over the future of the band. Frontman Geoff Tate says the band told his wife she would no longer be the band's manager. "We went to do the show," Tate told Rolling Stone. "Scott [Rockenfield] looks at me and he smirks and says, 'We just fired your whole family, and you're next.' I just lost it. I tried to punch him. I don't think I landed a punch before somebody grabbed me and hauled me to the side." The band denies that Rockenfield instigated the fight with that comment, and claim Tate's attack was unprovoked. Whatever happened, there are now two incarnations of Queensryche on the road. They have a court date in September to sort out the whole mess. 

Show Comments