Classic Rock

Rockstars Who Actually Threw Fists

todayApril 3, 2024

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Heavy metal isn’t just about crushing riffs and electrifying solos. It’s a genre steeped in raw emotion, where artistic passion can sometimes curdle into bitter rivalries.

These feuds, fueled by everything from creative disagreements to backstage barbs, have occasionally exploded into full-fledged brawls. From legendary clashes of egos to unexpected onstage scuffles, the history of heavy metal is littered with tales of rockstars throwing down. 

Forget guitar solos, in these cases, it was fists flying. Prepare to revisit some of the most outrageous and often hilarious physical confrontations that rocked the music world, proving that metalheads are just as passionate about their feuds as they are about their music.

Guns N’ Roses vs. Mötley Crüe

The 1989 MTV Video Music Awards witnessed a shocking turn when Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil attacked Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin backstage. Rumors swirled that Stradlin had previously struck Neil’s pregnant wife, inciting Neil’s vengeance.

A furious Axl Rose rushed to defend his bandmate, threatening Neil with violence. Security quickly intervened, preventing further punches but igniting a media firestorm.

The feud escalated into a public spectacle. Neil bragged about breaking Stradlin’s nose, prompting Rose to demand a public apology. A war of words ensued, with both vocalists issuing challenges to fight each other. Neil even proposed a televised arena brawl, but the fight never materialized. Despite the lack of fisticuffs, the MTV brawl cemented itself as one of rock’s most infamous feuds.

Skid Row vs. Bon Jovi

Skid Row’s rise to fame was intertwined with Bon Jovi. Discovered by Jon Bon Jovi’s parents, Skid Row even opened for Bon Jovi on tour. However, things turned sour when Skid Row’s merchandise outsold Bon Jovi’s. The tension culminated in Kentucky when Bon Jovi’s crew hazed Bach with a brutal ice milk dunk.

Following their performance, the feud exploded. Bach claimed Bon Jovi himself, along with his entourage, confronted him. Punches were thrown, and Bach was slammed against a wall. This backstage brawl continued for years through public insults.

The animosity was so deep that it took a chance meeting in a London bar in the early 2000s for them to finally bury the hatchet. This encounter proved that even the most intense rock rivalries can eventually fade with time.

Slipknot vs. Mushroomhead

The metal world witnessed a clash of the titans between masked juggernauts, Slipknot and Mushroomhead. The latter launched a full-scale assault, accusing Slipknot of being unoriginal copycats and a manufactured band created by a record label to steal their sound.

The animosity reached a boiling point during a live concert. Mushroomhead’s fans, seemingly fueled by the band’s rhetoric, bombarded Slipknot with everything but the stage itself. Incensed, Slipknot bassist Paul Gray and another member shed their signature masks, a symbolic act of defiance. They then took the extraordinary step of diving into the mosh pit to confront the aggressive crowd. Chaos erupted, with a full-blown brawl ensuing. Security struggled to regain control, and arrests were made.

Despite the violence, Slipknot emerged victorious in a way. They chose to completely ignore Mushroomhead, treating them like a minor annoyance. Mushroomhead, however, continued to take jabs in interviews.

The feud simmered for years until a somber moment in 2010. Following the tragic death of Paul Gray, Mushroomhead publicly offered their condolences. This act of respect, in the wake of loss, signaled a potential end to the hostilities.

Metallica vs. Megadeth

The thrash metal scene wouldn’t be the same without the feud between Metallica and Megadeth. It all began with a fired guitarist – Dave Mustaine. After a physical altercation during practice, Mustaine was kicked out of Metallica. Fueled by anger and a desire to prove himself, he formed Megadeth, a band that achieved incredible success.

However, the bitterness from his dismissal never subsided. Mustaine frequently took shots at Metallica in interviews, downplaying frontman James Hetfield’s contributions and emphasizing his own role in shaping Metallica’s early sound. This public war of words raged on for years, a constant reminder of the animosity between the two metal giants.

Disturbed vs. Finch

The metal scene witnessed a clash between established veterans Disturbed and California’s post-hardcore outfit Finch. The feud ignited in 2002 when Finch guitarist Randy Stroh publicly disparaged Disturbed’s music, even going so far as to threaten their lead singer.

This simmering animosity exploded into violence two years later at a music festival. As the stage rotated to reveal Finch preparing for their set, Disturbed guitarist Dan Donegan confronted Stroh, igniting a brawl. The fight quickly escalated, involving members of both bands and their crews.

Finch managed to finish their performance, but the tension remained thick. Backstage, Disturbed and their crew reportedly awaited Finch, ready to continue the altercation. Thankfully, security intervened, preventing further violence from erupting. This ugly incident stands as a reminder of the dark side that can sometimes lurk within the music industry.

Tommy Lee vs. Kid Rock

Tommy Lee and Kid Rock’s feud stemmed from a messy love triangle. Both musicians were married to Pamela Anderson – Lee from 1995 to 1998 and Kid Rock for a whirlwind five months in 2006. This shared history fueled animosity that exploded at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.

Lee was reportedly mingling with friends when Kid Rock allegedly blindsided him with a punch. Security swiftly separated the two, but the incident became a tabloid sensation. The exact cause of the fight remains shrouded in mystery, but bad blood and the presence of alcohol likely played a part.

Divine Heresy vs. Tommy Vext

In 2006, Dino Cazares of Fear Factory formed Divine Heresy and brought in Tommy Vext as the lead vocalist. Their collaboration promised great potential until a public dispute during a 2008 show abruptly ended their ascent. Disagreement over the set’s conclusion led to a heated altercation on stage, resulting in Vext’s immediate dismissal from the band.

Post-dismissal, Vext voiced grievances about Cazares’ ego and alleged attempts to derail his subsequent involvement with Snot. Cazares refuted these claims, labeling Vext’s behavior as unprofessional. The conflict reached its peak with a physical confrontation at the Mayhem Festival in 2008, where accusations of assault arose amidst claims of self-defense.

The fallout from the incident left a lasting impact on both musicians’ careers and reputations. Despite the initial promise of Divine Heresy, the clash between the two artists overshadowed their musical endeavors, marking a tumultuous chapter in their professional lives.

Eddie Van Halen vs. Fred Durst

Eddie Van Halen and Fred Durst’s potential collaboration, orchestrated by a record label executive, took an unexpected turn. The session, initially perceived as amusing by Durst, quickly deteriorated due to a disagreement over cannabis use, prompting Van Halen to leave abruptly.

The situation escalated when Van Halen’s attempts to retrieve his equipment from Durst were ignored. According to director Andrew Bennett, Van Halen resorted to an extreme confrontation at Durst’s residence, demanding his gear at gunpoint. This incident, whether fact or fiction, underscores the intense and unpredictable nature of rock star interactions.

This bizarre episode between Van Halen and Durst, as recounted by Bennett, remains a legendary tale in rock history. It serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable and sometimes perilous dynamics that can occur when strong personalities clash within the high-stakes music industry. Whether the gunpoint confrontation truly happened or is an embellished anecdote, it has become a part of the lore surrounding these iconic musicians.

John 5 vs. Marilyn Manson

John 5’s tenure with Marilyn Manson began in 1998, marked by immediate creative synergy. Yet, over the years, their relationship soured, marred by constant verbal clashes and destructive antics by Manson. John 5 endured this difficult environment for half a decade, which took a toll on him both personally and professionally.

Their discord peaked at a 2003 music festival when an onstage mishap led to a physical confrontation. Manson’s accidental kick to John 5 during the performance was the last straw, prompting an intense reaction from the guitarist, who was already dealing with personal loss.

The incident catalyzed John 5’s departure from the band, propelling him to collaborate with Rob Zombie. This move not only marked a significant shift in his career but also intensified the rivalry between Manson and Zombie.

Varg Vikernes vs. Euronymous

The black metal scene in Norway was rocked by the violent clash between Varg Vikernes and Euronymous. Initially united by their music and extreme ideologies, their bond fractured due to financial disagreements and deep-seated resentment.

The conflict culminated in a tragic encounter at Euronymous’s apartment in August 1993, where Vikernes fatally wounded Euronymous. Claiming self-defense against alleged threats to his life, Vikernes faced a court sentence of 21 years for the murder, alongside convictions for church arson and possessing explosives.

This extreme act of violence sent shockwaves through the music world, underscoring the potential for radical beliefs to escalate into deadly actions, and leaving an unforgettable mark on the legacy of black metal.

Written by: Best Classic Bands Staff

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