Epic Musician Feuds of the ’90s


What’s more surprising — that Hole have canceled a scheduled set at Australia’s Soundwave Festival because they were slated to open for Limp Bizkit, or that both bands still exist in 2011? Either way, this makes one more well-publicized feud for Courtney Love, who tweeted at the festival’s promoter, AJ Maddah, “What bloody flight of crazed fancy made you think we’d open for Limp Bizkit dude? No offense, that’s nuts.” (Lest you begin to feel some pity for Maddah, let it be known that he responded by calling her a “rotten twat.”) This Hole vs. Limp Bizkit beef, which could just as easily have happened in 1997, got us thinking about the many epic musician feuds that took place in the ’90s — a few of which did not even include Love. Reminisce with us after the jump.

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Courtney Love vs. Marilyn Manson

It’s not like she’s Miss Popularity in 2011, but no one was involved in more ’90s beefs than Courtney Love. You can take your pick of which you find most memorable: Courtney Love vs. Trent Reznor, Courtney Love vs. Kathleen Hanna, Courtney Love vs. Dave Grohl… etc. For this list — and, we admit, partially because we found such a great, odd photo of them together — we’ve chosen her feud with Marilyn Manson. The trouble came when Hole toured with Manson in 1999 and the bands’ volatile leads talked shit about each other onstage. One live review from that period finds Love telling Manson fans that they must have “tiny dicks,” and Hole eventually dropped out of tour. Soon after that debacle, Manson made amends with his former mentor Reznor, with whom he was also feuding, and the pair mocked Love together in Nine Inch Nails’ video for “Starfuckers, Inc.”

Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam

In 1992, after Nirvana had broken through to the mainstream with a raft of imitators nipping at their heels, Kurt Cobain famously denounced their closest competitors, Pearl Jam, calling the band “a corporate, alternative and cock-rock fusion.” Although Cobain never came around to Pearl Jam’s music, he eventually explained in an MTV interview that he had gotten to know Eddie Vedder a bit and liked him. In fact, the pair even slow-danced together before the year was out. A few years ago, when asked to reflect on the feud, Vedder said that Cobain “didn’t understand us at the time” and that he believes, “If he were around today, I know he’d say to me ‘well, you turned out OK.'”

The Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac Shakur

Quite possibly the most important — and undeniably the most tragic — musician feud of the ’90s pitted the Notorious B.I.G. and his East Coast label, Bad Boy Entertainment, against Tupac Shakur and his West Coast label, Death Row Records. Although Biggie and Tupac started out as friends, the animosity escalated after Shakur publicly accused the rapper born Christopher Wallace of being involved in a 1994 armed robbery in which he was shot — an incident that remains hotly contested nearly two decades later. Only a few years later, both men had been murdered. While their cases remain unsolved, and by now it seems impossible to prove that either man’s inner circle was responsible for the other’s death, it’s also hard to believe that neither homicide had anything to do with the East Coast/West Coast beef that both were so deeply involved in.

Blur vs. Oasis

By the mid-’90s, grunge was on its last legs, with Kurt Cobain electing to burn out rather than fade away and too many musicians from the same scene (Hole’s Kristen Pfaff, Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon) following him to an early grave. Although Britain had spawned its fair share of copycat groups (hello, Bush) by then, alternative music’s next big movement was born and raised across the pond. Britpop’s two most successful bands were the Beatles-loving Oasis and the more eclectic rockers Blur. If their regional followings (Oasis hailed from the northern part of England, while Blur was from the south) and struggle to dominate the charts hadn’t incited a rivalry, it’s inevitable that the big mouths of Oasis’s warring brothers, Liam and Noel Gallagher, would have done it anyway. While the Gallaghers may have had the more popular band, both at home and in the US, Blur’s Damon Albarn arguably went on to the most inspiring post-Britpop career — aside from reuniting Blur in 2009, he’s formed successful bands including Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad, and the Queen, created operas, scored films, and produced or collaborated with too many artists to count.

Eazy-E vs. Dr. Dre

For this list, we’ve mostly stayed away from intra-band feuds — for one thing, there are a lot of them, and they can tend to be petty and boring. But we’ve included the rift between Eazy-E and Dr. Dre because it played a big part in launching each rapper’s successful solo career. Their troubles began in 1991, when NWA made their final album, Niggaz4Life, and new manager Jerry Heller entered the mix. Because Dre felt that Heller was favoring Eazy’s interests over the rest of the group’s, he sent Suge Knight after his band mate — and you know that never ends well. Dre’s classic 1992 solo debut, The Chronic, was full of disses, with one song inviting Eazy to “eat a big fat dick.” Eazy hit back the next year with an EP titled It’s On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa. His story ended tragically, with his AIDS-related death in 1995, but not before he had made peace with his old friend.

The Dandy Warhols vs. The Brian Jonestown Massacre

Proof positive that indie rockers can be just as jealous and crazy as their mainstream counterparts, the feud between The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre pitted an erratic and mentally ill genius (BJM’s Anton Newcombe) against a good-looking frontman (the Dandies’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor) whose catchy, clever, well-timed single “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth” briefly rocketed his band to MTV-level fame. Newcombe eventually responded with such songs as “Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth” and “Courtney Taylor,” which featured the lyrics, “You should you do it to an enemy but not to your friend.” Ondi Timoner documented the rivalry in the film Dig!, for which she spent seven years following the bands and collecting footage.

Smashing Pumpkins vs. Pavement

They may seem unlikely foes, but the feud between Smashing Pumpkins and Pavement is actually still on. The beef began in 1994, when Stephen Malkmus imagined what it might be like tour with Billy Corgan, et al, on the song “Range Life,” singing, “I don’t understand what they mean/ And I could really give a fuck.” The jab made Corgan (who, it should be noted, has also had bad blood with everyone from Courtney Love to Chicago music critic Jim DeRogatis) so mad that he got Pavement booted from a Lollapalooza bill. Malkmus, meanwhile, has always seemed bemused by the kerfuffle, which reared its head again last fall, when Corgan threw a Twitter fit after learning that the two groups would share a stage at a festival in Brazil. Pavement, he wrote, “represent the death of the alternative dream, and we follow with the affirmation of life part… funny how those who pointed the big finger of ‘sell out’ are the biggest offenders now…yawn. they have no love.” That’s right, people: Between Smashing Pumpkins and Pavement, Pavement are the sell outs.

Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera

Britney and Christina went way back, to the days when both pop stars were on Disney’s All-New Mickey Mouse Club in the early ’90s (with Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake). Because the singers achieved success around the same time, they’ve been pitted against each other in the press since they were teenagers in the late ’90s. The feud escalated in 2003, when Aguilera went on tour with Timberlake after he and Spears had split, and rumor had it that Spears had caught the two kissing. Just months later, the ladies appeared onstage together to make out with Madonna at the MTV Video Music Awards. Addressing the rivalry in a 2008 Daily Mail interview, Aguilera said, “It must have seemed as if we were competing with each other, but, in reality, Britney is someone that I used to hold hands with. We were silly little girls together on the Mickey Mouse Club. What a journey it has been for both of us!” Now it seems their war may really be over: earlier this year, they even exchanged some Twitter love.