A Brief History of Morrissey’s Many, Many Feuds

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Unless you’ve been under a rock this week, you’ve doubtless heard about the slanging match between Morrissey and Jimmy Kimmel, centering on the former’s decision to cancel his appearance on the latter’s show. Morrissey is famous for hating just about everyone who isn’t an animal, so much so that it gets rather difficult to keep track of who he’s feuding with at any given moment. It’s also hard to keep track of whether such feuds represent a man more sinned against than sinning — the Kimmel thing, for instance, has generally been framed as Morrissey being Morrissey, whereas a less cursory examination of the facts reveal that he actually had a point. This isn’t always the case, of course, so we thought we’d review the history of some of his most memorable spats and the reasons behind them.

Jimmy Kimmel

So, no doubt you’ve read about this — Morrissey was booked to appear on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, but canceled when he discovered his fellow guests were to be the stars of Duck Dynasty, a reality TV show about duck hunting. Kimmel got pissy and ridiculed Morrissey’s decision. Morrissey responded with his characteristic vitriol. Et cetera. We’re siding with Morrissey here — he probably shouldn’t have taken the gig in the first place, but he doesn’t deserve to be ridiculed for sticking to his principles.

The verdict: Understandable

His fans

Specifically, one David Tseng, who runs fansite Morrissey-Solo.com, of which Morrissey does not approve. He’s described the site as “Morrissey so low,” and has issued it with cease-and-desist letters, to little effect. The whole thing got sillier when Tseng attended a show in Copenhagen a couple of years back — Morrissey somehow got wind of the fact that he was in the house, and had him escorted from the venue, and subsequently black-banned him from any further gigs. For life. (Morrissey and his entire band also sported “FUCK MORRISSEY-SOLO.COM” t-shirts at a show in June 2011. For the love of god.)

The verdict: Very silly

His band

The legal shitfight that ensued from the breakup of the Smiths dragged on for years, centering on the fact that Morrissey and Johnny Marr split 80% of the band’s royalties, with bassist Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke only getting 10% each, an arrangement that resulted in them eventually suing for unpaid royalties. This one didn’t end well, with the presiding judge ruling in favor of Joyce and Rourke, and famously labeling Morrissey “devious, truculent and unreliable.”

The verdict: Silly

The NME

Another legal battle, and one that ended rather more favorably for Morrissey. The feud centered on an interview published in 2007 that characterized Morrissey as anti-immigration and potentially racist. Morrissey argued that his quotes were taken out of context, and eventually received an apology.

The verdict: Vindication, at least in a legal sense

Siouxsie Sioux

Morrissey and Siouxsie collaborated on 1994 single “Interlude,” but apparently fell out over their respective ideas for a video, and specifically, the type of dog that was to feature. No, honestly. Read all about it here.

The verdict: Very, very silly

Richard and Judy

To the surprise of absolutely no one, this spat with British TV duo Richard Madeley and his (significantly older) wife Judy Finnigan started over animal rights, and specifically over an animal-testing facility constructed at Oxford University. Madeley took exception to Morrissey’s on-stage threat to “get anyone working in the labs,” and wrote a newspaper column calling the singer a “puffed-up prat.” Morrissey’s response was a piece of classic bitchiness: “Thank you to the British television person (I’m not exactly sure what he does) Richard Madeley who, at least, made me laugh recently by referring to me as an ‘insufferable puffed-up prat’. This comment may or may not be true, but I think it’s a bit rich coming from a man who actually married his own mother.”

The verdict: Amusing and largely understandable

David Bowie

We covered this recently, and while we’re not sure if it qualifies as an ongoing feud, we’re pretty sure there’s only going to be one winner if it does. (Spoiler: it’s not going to be Morrissey.)

The verdict: TBC

The royal family

This has been a one-sided barrage rather than a feud, with Morrissey directing decades’ worth of vitriol in the direction of the British royal family, who have largely not deigned to reply. His barbs have ranged from the justifiable (calling them “utterly useless,” which they are) to the mildly deranged (blaming them for the death of Kate Middleton’s nurse, who infamously killed herself after being the victim of a prank call last year.)

The verdict: Understandable, if rather poorly executed

Robert Smith

The grandaddy of them all. The barbs the two have thrown at one another over the years gave us rich material for our list of musician-on-musician insults, and the feud has been going on since the ’80s, showing no sign of abating.

The verdict: Very silly indeed