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Stylus Counsel | Area Resident’s Records

Track 29 | The last day of our acquaintance.

My first kindergarten report card had a lengthy paragraph about me not playing well with others. Years later, I was kicked out of a band because they decided to move rehearsals an hour away. I was the drummer and kicked up a stink, which was met with ire and got me booted. I’ll never be in a band again, except to perform my own stuff. I still don’t play well with others, you might say. But I’m not alone. Breakups are sometimes ugly, sometimes darkly hilarious.

The Smiths were notoriously hateful. They broke up when guitarist Johnny Marr, exhausted, decided to take a break to relax following the release of their fourth album. A music magazine interpreted this as the band breaking up. Marr interpreted the article as band shenanigans. He thought the magazine was acting on a bogus tip from Morrissey. So he did actually quit… and the band dissolved.

Eagles have also been pretty fighty over the years. Drummer/vocalist Don Henley was a noted malcontent. But this story from the late guitarist/vocalist Glenn Frey sums up their final days: “We’re onstage, and Felder looks back at me and says, ‘Only three more songs till I kick your ass, pal.’ ”

They weren’t exactly violent, but the Violent Femmes actually split up over a fast-food commercial. Gordon Gano, who is not only the group’s singer but also the principal songwriter, licensed use of the band’s most famous song Blister In The Sun to the Wendy’s restaurant chain. Bassist Brian Ritchie publicly shamed him for “prostituting” their music. The Verve’s members did not get along and actually broke up three times in a decade before they split for good.

Personalities and egos are tricky. Simon and Garfunkel made so many lovely songs together, but it came crashing down for a completely non-musical reason. The duo were both cast in the movie Catch-22, but Simon’s part was cut. Then, Garfunkel got cast in another movie and kept that news from Simon for fear it might break up the band. It did.

Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks were notoriously hateful with each other. Working together ended on the occasion of Dave’s 50th birthday party. Ray got his brother a cake. But, he got up on a table and gave a speech, which was deemed “self-indulgent” and, following which, he stomped his foot in the cake.

The Police famously split up over Sting and Stewart Copeland’s mutual animosity. Apparently The Who hated each other too, but that never brought about their demise. Unlike Oasis. Whoa, boy did the Gallagher brothers have a hate on for each other. One issue was when Noel didn’t want Liam to advertise his clothing line in the band’s live show programme. Then, minutes before the band were due onstage at a 2009 music festival in Paris, the brothers had an argument backstage. One of Noel’s guitars was apparently smashed by Liam and they cancelled the show. Noel then announced he was done and so was the band. Liam called Noel a “potato” on social media and also sued him for libel. Kind of makes Christmas dinner awkward.

Two other famous brothers — Phil & Don Everly — broke up in 1973 after Don showed up boozy to a gig and Phil smashed a guitar over his head. They didn’t speak for years afterward. From smashing guitars to Smashing PumpkinsBilly Corgan and pals can place the blame for their breakup squarely on drugs. In 1996 their keyboard player died of a heroin overdose, followed by the drummer being arrested for possession and then fired.

It didn’t break up the band, but for a very creative bunch, Pink Floyd had a pretty unimaginative way of getting rid of acid-casualty bandleader Syd Barrett in 1968. They just decided not to pick him up. Their keyboardist, the late Rick Wright, lived with Barrett and avoided telling him about gigs by simply stating he was going out for cigarettes, but not returning for days at a time.

In Love Lies Bleeding, Elton John sings “I was playing rock ’n’ roll and you were just a fan. But my guitar couldn’t hold you so I split the band.” The following year he canned the two longest-serving members of his band — bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson — over the phone.

Egos, drugs and money cause problems, but of course — so does love. Canadian metal band Witchrot got their biggest exposure with their demise when their bass player posted this to Facebook in Nov. 2018: “Due to the unfortunate reality of our guitarist f****** my girlfriend of almost 7 years, WITCHROT will be taking an extended hiatus … also our drummer died.”

Aw geez, guys.

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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.