For every big rock band, there comes even bigger egos. The lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock and roll can easily get to one’s head if rockstars don’t police themselves. Those that don’t reign in bad behavior tend to let their worst impulses go unchecked. This allows a band member, usually the singer, to have an inflated sense of ego and entitlement. The consequences that follow this type of behavior result in the worst outcomes; the singer cleans house. It happened for a period with Guns N Roses when Axls’ ego grew out of control. This week’s blog focuses on bands who now have just one member left and the ego driven choices that led them to that breaking up point.
Guns N Roses: Sole Member- Axl Rose (1996- 2016)
Prior to the massive reunion, there was Axl Roses’ massive ego. Rose at the time was known for being not on it. Constant delays due to watching children’s movies, to downright ego driven decisions, Rose’s no-show attitude did sit well with others. In addition to his tardiness, Rose was a notorious perfectionist. The reason for long delays in release between records were due to the vision Rose had for them in his head. He wanted the Use Your Illusion records to sound perfect. This perfectionism led to great critical reception for both parts of the album. It also led to a nearly 20 year long wait for the follow up, Chinese Democracy. This was a record that begun production in 1996 and released in 2008. In 1996, Slash no longer had the “Patience” (pun intended) to handle the front man. During the early Chinese Democracy sessions, all that remained of Guns N Roses was Axl, Slash, and Duff Mckagen (bass). They made one solitary recording, a cover of “Sympathy for The Devil”, before McKagen left the band. Slash quit shortly thereafter. Axl would later hire multiple “Guns” for his Roses, though eventually, Mckagen and Slash came back in 2016 and are still on tour and on time to this day.
Smashing Pumpkins: Sole Member- Billy Corgan (2001-2018)
William Patrick Corgan Jr., Billy as he was formerly known, is and always will be a perfectionist. On the Smashing Pumpkins record Siamese Daydream, he is notorious for recording every song himself. Band member James Iha (guitar) was out due to drug use and bass player D’arcy Wretzky was out due to Billy Corgans controlling nature. Though the band claims they had planned a farewell tour prior to the breakup, the writing was on the wall. The group went from 90’s alt rock heroes to “zeros” in the early 2000’s. Corgan however, had wanted to continue the band and brought back drummer Jimmy Chamberlin in 2005. Iha and Wretzky wanted no part in the reunion, and Chamberlin would later leave again in 2009. The band, minus Wretzky would reunite in 2018 and put out 3 albums with a fourth currently on the way. Despite his ego driven past, Corgan is now looking forward to a more collaborative future.
Foreigner: Sole Member- Mick Jones (1976- Present)
Formed in 1976 by guitarist Mick Jones, vocalist Lou Gramm and Ian McDonald, Foreigner were prepared to become “Juke Box Heroes”. They struck gold records, multiple times with hits like “Feels Like the First Time” and “Waiting on a Girl Like You” and sold nearly 70 million albums. During the late 80’s, the founding members Ed Gagliardi, Dennis Elliot, and even McDonald had departed from the band. Lou Gramm, however, did not leave on amicable terms. Gramm cited creative differences with Mick Jones as both artists had released solo records at the time. After Gramm’s album 1987 album Ready or Not, production on Foreigners new album would be stalled as Gramm wanted a solo career. Gramm would later rejoin following the L.A. Riots and leave again in 2003 due to a lack of communication with Jones. Foreigner has since added vocalist Kelly Hansen and is preparing a farewell tour for this year. Mick Jones is currently the only remaining member of the band.
Beach Boys: Sole Members- Brian Wilson (2013- Present)
Despite the carefree nature of the Beach Boys records, the group was having anything but having “fun, fun, fun”. Brian Wilson, the groups musical genius, was suffering from mental health issues and drug use. Brian’s cousin Mike Love was not a fan of Wilsons experimental direction on Pet Sounds. Once Brian left, so too did the bands chance at writing poignant, relevant records. In the early 90’s, Brian Wilson was able to get his mental health problems under control, but not his band as Mike Love had taken over the group. In 2012, the Beach Boys, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston reformed and put out a new record. Once the tour ended, Mike Love continued to own the rights to the group’s name. Love had also did not want to add any more tour dates with the full lineup. Despite not being able to tour as a Beach Boy due to legal reasons, Brian Wilson still tries to tour. Mike Love and the others original members continue under the name of The Beach Boys.
Megadeth- Dave Mustaine (1986- Present)
Dave Mustaine has always been a solo artist. He created the “band” name Megadeth solely as a reason to keep his ego in check. Despite writing great hard rock songs, he is often deemed difficult to work with. Most lineups last fewer than three albums and he has taken it upon himself to rank his guitar players. This list consists of 8 that had come and gone through his band. While it is not to say he’s not a great musician, he has always been the one in charge. The most consistent lineup he had lasted 9 years from 1991-2000. His ego is so massive that even opens his show by playing one of his own songs on the PA. Love him or hate him, Mustaine closes out part one of The Last Man Standing Special.
What band can you think of whose ego caused them to be the remaining member?