The Court of Musical Divorce is Now in Session: 5 Ego Driven Band Breakups

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It was bad enough watching your parents fight—but watching your most beloved musical acts disband in the public eye?! Nothing could be as heart-wrenching. These five bands topped the charts for most dramatic band breakups, and broke our hearts in the process.

5 Violent Femmes

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The Violent Femmes made some of the coolest, weirdest music of the 1980s. They continued making music until 2001. In 2007, however, it seemed that the band exploded. Songwriter/guitarist Gordon Gano sold the rights to Blister in the Sun… to Wendy’s. This obviously annoyed bassist Brian Ritche. In true 21st century form, Ritchie sued Gano. The Violent Femmes disbanded in 2007 after a long and torturous court battle. Much to the public’s surprise, the Violent Femmes are reuniting and playing in April 2013 at Coachella. Like in “The Parent Trap,” sometimes mommy and daddy do get back together.

4 The Jimi Hendrix Experience

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Despite being part of the lovin’ hippie era, Jimi Hendrix, it seems, wasn’t actually the nicest guy. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was the best grouping of musicians around Hendrix, but as time wore on he didn’t see it as such. He felt the trio format was holding him back, and tension with bassist Noel Redding ran high. As was Hendrix. High, that is. He had succumbed to excessive heroin and LSD use. They struggled through their contracted tour dates until the Denver Pop Festival of 1969 where Hendrix dispassionately announced, “this is the last gig we’ll be playing together.” After Hendrix’s death in 1970, Redding was forced to sell his royalties. Redding died in 2003.

3 Smashing Pumpkins

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No one ever claimed grunge was about love and harmony; that said the Smashing Pumpkins’ demise was about as far afield of harmony as you can get. Not known for being one to delegate, frontman Billy Corgan’s control issues contributed to internal strife. Add a drug-addicted Jimmy Chamberlin to a troubled Corgan and you’ve a recipe for disaster. While their contemporaries dropped like flies (Cobain, Staley, Pfaff), the Smashing Pumpkins held on for dear life, but eventually imploded. Melissa Auf der Maur and James Iha (the only sane ones, it seems) refused to reunite with Corgan. The new line-up has none of the original members (Chamberlain reunited, and then left), save for Corgan.

2 The Sex Pistols

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Murdering your girlfriend is a pretty good way to ensure you’re ending your career. Committing suicide after murdering your girlfriend is fool-proof. But the Sex Pisolts were long dead before Sid Vicious allegedly killed Nancy Spungen. Tensions were high with the band, mostly due to strong personalities and rampant heroin use. On January 14, 1978, at their final show in San Francisco, frontman Johnny Rotten put the metaphorical nail into the coffin: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Good night,” he said, and walked off stage. The band dispersed three days later. Vicious committed suicide on February 1, 1979. Nothing says dysfunction like The Sex Pistols.

1 The Smiths

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Morrissey turned down a $5 million offer to reunite The Smiths for the 2006 Coachella Festival. He was quoted as saying, “I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that’s saying something for a vegetarian.” If that doesn’t say vehemence, the English language needs reevaluating. The demise of The Smiths in 1987 was a long-time coming. Their guitarist, Johnny Marr, left the band to save himself from alcoholism, and apparently Morrissey didn’t take it well. He grew jealous of Marr’s other collaborations and blamed Marr for the destruction of The Smiths. Whether it was really Marr’s fault or not, the breakup of the Smiths was a very unhappy one.

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