Mark Mason

The biggest music feuds of all time

Sad news from the Hall and Oates camp, where ‘I Can’t Go For That’ has become ‘I Can’t Go Within A Specified Distance of You’, Daryl Hall having taken out a restraining order on John Oates. Actually, we don’t know whether a distance is specified, as the details of the order remain secret. But we do know that Hall last year called Oates ‘my business partner… not my creative partner… We’ve always been very separate, and that’s a really important thing for me’. Such discord is in the finest traditions of pop.

The most famous feud was in the most famous band, or rather after it: John Lennon reacted to Paul McCartney’s solo song ‘Too Many People’ (a dig at Lennon’s preach-iness) with ‘How Do You Sleep?’; Lennon also resented Macca’s legal proceedings that formally dissolved the Beatles. Paul wore the same suit to the High Court as he had on the zebra-crossing Abbey Road cover.

Tension is often there, bubbling under, as when Syd Barrett’s erratic behaviour antagonised his Pink Floyd bandmates. ‘It was so bad,’ remembers drummer Nick Mason, ‘that we almost said something.’ And even when the tension erupts, it can be creative. Before making Rumours, the members of Fleetwood Mac had slept with each other in different combinations – Christine McVie even dragging in the band’s lighting director for good measure – yet the resulting break-up songs (such as ‘Go Your Own Way’) made it one of the bestselling albums of all time.

The Jagger/Richards feud has persisted for decades. Keef’s autobiography refers to the size of a certain part of Mick’s anatomy (references that are not to Mick’s advantage), though the best Stones spat was actually between Mick and Charlie. The former phoned the latter at 4 a.m.

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