Have your favorite bands always been in harmony when creating classic albums? Not even close. Groups have endured lineup shifts, breakups, and fist fights while giving fans the best music ever. Members of The Police hated each other so much while making Synchronicity that they couldn’t record in the same room. Destiny’s Child dropped, added, and again dropped members ahead of Survivor, and a romantic split in No Doubt led to the band’s biggest single.
In our video, Gwen Stefani describes No Doubt’s tension through the late `90s.
Want to know more about the drama behind beloved LPs? Click through for the conflicts that bred amazing albums.
The Beatles, Let It Be
Beatles purists know Abbey Road was recorded after Let It Be. However, the latter was the lads’ final release and its accompanying documentary laid bare the group’s acrimony. George Harrison was fed up with bandmates during the 1969 sessions and threatened to leave the group. Harrison and John Lennon reportedly exchanged punches at one point, while Paul McCartney’s creative direction was seen as controlling. Let It Be was released in 1970 just after the Beatles broke up. Despite the bad vibes, it made it to No. 1 on the U.S. and U.K. charts.
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
Fleetwood Mac’s seminal 1977 album was notable for its musicality and for band members’ seething tension. The group’s two couples, John and Christine McVie along with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, had both split since Fleetwood Mac’s previous LP. Founder Mick Fleetwood was reeling after discovering his wife’s infidelity. Members subsequently described uncomfortable recording sessions. Buckingham and Nicks fought, while the McVies only spoke to discuss composition. Copious drug use fueled the tension. But the raw emotions made for classic songs, including “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop.” Rumours was a worldwide success, ranked as one of the highest selling albums of all time.
The Police, Synchronicity
Despite the band’s title for its final album, The Police definitely weren’t in sync while making Synchronicity. The members recorded in separate rooms since they couldn’t share breathing space without fighting. Sting and Stewart Copeland reportedly got into a physical altercation over “Every Breath You Take.” When the album dropped in 1983, it peaked at No. 1 on Billboard. “Every Breath You Take” was one of 1983’s biggest singles and the album won three Grammys.
Van Halen, 1984
After riding high for seven years, Van Halen scored its biggest album to date with 1984. The LP, featuring the synth-heavy “Jump,” hit No. 2 on Billboard, second only to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. While Van Halen’s sales went through the roof, David Lee Roth’s relationship with guitarist Eddie Van Halen had already hit rock bottom. The charismatic singer wasn’t happy with the group’s forays into pop music and resented the guitarist’s side projects. Diamond Dave got fed up enough to leave the band in 1985.
[Photo Credit: A&M Records/Warner Bros. Records]
Prince And The Revolution, Purple Rain
Remember those scenes from Purple Rain where Wendy complained to Prince about The Revolution’s songs? Well, that band tension wasn’t pure fiction. Prince was notoriously controlling when it came to music, diminishing creativity from his band members. Though the group dealt with their frontman’s dominance, the film’s soundtrack broke The Revolution into the mainstream. Purple Rain’s soundtrack was No. 1 for more than 20 weeks and won two Grammys and an Oscar.
Oasis, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
Even the Gallagher brothers’ egos couldn’t stop Morning Glory from becoming a britpop classic. Liam and Noel Gallagher fought over vocals and reportedly stalled sessions after trying to beat up each other. Once Morning Glory was released in 1995, Oasis solidified its place on the U.S. charts as the album peaked at No. 4.
No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom
No Doubt refined its sound for the band’s third LP, but founder Eric Stefani couldn’t stand losing creative control. The keyboardist left No Doubt in 1994, during Tragic Kingdom’s recording sessions. Stefani’s sister Gwen suffered heartbreak when bassist Tony Kanal split from her while working on the LP. The breakup led to No Doubt’s classic single, “Don’t Speak.” The 1995 LP was No Doubt’s first album to chart and peaked at No. 1.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Records/Creation Records/Interscope Records]
A Tribe Called Quest, Beats, Rhymes, And Life
Anticipation was high for A Tribe Called Quest’s fourth studio album. After 1993’s Midnight Marauders, fans expected nothing but greatness from the hip-hop group. Beats, Rhymes, And Life hit stores in 1996 and quickly shot to No. 1. However, Phife Dawg’s growing distance from Q-Tip was palpable on the album. Tip’s creative decisions and religious conversion, along with Phife’s move to Atlanta, caused rifts during recording. Though some of Tribe’s magic was lost, Beats, Rhymes, And Life still emerged as a solid LP.
Destiny’s Child, Survivor
When Survivor dropped in 2001, Destiny’s Child’s original lineup had been scrapped. After the group’s previous album, 1999’s The Writing’s On The Wall, LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett were kicked out for criticizing Matthew Knowles’ management. Farrah Franklin and Michelle Williams joined Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland in 2000 to round out the foursome. Only after five months, Franklin got the boot. Despite the drama, Survivor became Destiny’s Child’s first chart-topping album on Billboard.
The rockers endured simmering tension before recording their 2003 self-titled LP. Guitarist Tom DeLonge had recruited drummer Travis Barker for a side project, leaving bassist Mark Hoppus in the dust. The guys glossed over their issues while making Blink-182, which peaked at No. 3 on the charts. But by the time the band toured, rifts surfaced. The group cancelled an appearance at a tsunami benefit in 2005, announcing a hiatus.
[Photo: Getty Images]