Even the most successful bands have had their share of problems – it’s the nature of the beast. Personal tensions can become bigger than the music (The Beatles, The Beach Boys), the changing industry can prove challenging (Metallica, U2), or the lure of selling out can be hard to resist (Aerosmith’s pop reinvention of the '90s). Whatever the reason, these are the biggest bands that ruined their legacy, to varying degrees. Oh, the price of success!
Their Legacy: Australian rockers INXS were one of the best rock groups to come out in the '80s—and that's saying a lot. They popularized the new-wave-meets-ska style of rock that no one else was making at the time.How They Tarnished It: When lead singer Michael Hutchence killed himself in 1997, INXS took a year off from music. Totally acceptable. What wasn't acceptable, though, was how they found their new lead singer in a reality TV singing competition. This sell-out move all but ruined INXS's rock-hard reputation.
Their Legacy: U2 began as a couple of high school kids jamming out in Dublin until they leveraged their skills as musicians and songwriters to become one of the most successful bands in the world. They have won more Grammys than any other band—22, to be exact—and have sold over 170 million records worldwide.
How They Tarnished It: in 2014, U2 basically tarnished all that they had built for themselves with the release of their 13th studio album, Songs of Innocence. On the morning of the release, all iPhone users woke up to find that the newest U2 album was part of their music library, whether they wanted it or not. "How to remove U2 album" became one of the most-Googled searches in the following weeks, effectively tarnishing a legacy nearly 40 years in the making.
Their Legacy: One part hair metal, one part rock and roll, Guns N' Roses made a name for themselves as one of the hardest rocking bands in town. The mastery of their instruments was unparalleled and their live shows were something to see.How They Tarnished It: Due to tensions between singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash, GNR unofficially broke up in the mid-'90s.The band decided to get back together—sans Slash—in 2008 and release Chinese Democracy, which did well but still didn't meet industry expectations. In 2016, the full band reunited for a pretty disastrous tour. Rose broke his foot during the warm-up show and had to sit on a makeshift "throne" to sing during the group's headlining gig at Coachella. The crowd consensus? Guns N' Roses should've left well enough alone.
Their Legacy: 1980s headbangers Metallica are considered to be one of "The Big Four" of thrash metal. They built an underground cult following and their first handful of albums were so critically acclaimed that Metallica became one of the first heavy metal bands to seep into pop culture consciousness. Even their band tee shirts are iconic and have been mass-produced by everyone from H&M to Forever 21.How They Destroyed It: Metallica stood up to Napster in 2000 and sued them for sharing the band's music for free. While they eventually won their lawsuit, many fans saw the band's stand as hypocritical; underground sharing was how they got their start, after all. Metallica's first post-Napster album, St. Anger, alienated fans even more with a new sound and they never recovered the popularity.