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The Nastiest Fights In Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame History

Updated August 30, 2019 29.5k votes 8.8k voters 839.1k views11 items

List RulesVote up the band you think created the biggest drama.

It seems as though the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has hosted as many marquee fights as Madison Square Garden. Since 1986, the Rock Hall has been the site of moving speeches, great performances, and legendary jams. But some artists get bewildered, disillusioned, and even enraged by the process and protocol of the foundation.


Fights involving ex-bandmates, current bandmates, Hall of Fame executives, judges, and anyone else within range of the podium have occurred. Along the way, the musicians have created controversies nearly as memorable as the actual inductions.

  • Photo: Helge Øverås / Wikimedia Commons/CC 3.0

    The biggest scuttlebutt regarding the 33rd annual event focused on easygoing '80s English rockers Dire Straits - who haven’t been so chill about their appearance. In the days leading up to the event, it remained unclear who would show up and whether they'd perform. Frontman Mark Knopfler, guitarist David Knopfler, drummer Pick Withers, bassist John Illsley, keyboardist Alan Clark, and keyboardist and guitarist Guy Fletcher were invited to attend and play.


    But only Clark, Illsley, and Fletcher RSVPd. Reports claimed the Knopfler brothers don't get along well at all, which contributed to the uncertainty. 


    While Mark remained mum about whether he would attend, David, who initially seemed enthusiastic, later lashed out at the Rock Hall for refusing to pay his expenses to get to Cleveland:


    I can well understand that with only $5 million a year in sponsorships and 100k a table and no fees for the artist, that paying my taxi to the airport must have given them heart murmurs like Squeers hearing Oliver Twist asking for more and frightened them into refusal. Otherwise one might get the wrong idea entirely about what they’re all about.


    Ultimately, neither of the Knopfler brothers showed up, and Dire Straits ended up making history again: as the first band inducted into the Hall of Fame without an induction speaker.

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  • Photo: Paul Kane/Stringer / Getty Images Entertainment

    There's always fireworks when KISS come to town, and the Rock Hall did nothing to extinguish the blaze before or after the show. Only the original four members - guitarist and vocalist Paul Stanley, bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons, guitarist Ace Frehley, and drummer Peter Criss - were inducted. This decision left out many of musicians who have performed on KISS albums, including the band’s current guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer.


    Clearly, the Rock Hall’s goal was to feature the original lineup performing together for the first time since 2001 (when Criss abruptly left, allegedly over a salary dispute). But Gene and Paul weren't having it, and when it became clear they couldn't perform with their current lineup, they decided to accept their awards and deliver speeches - but not play. Stanley told Rolling Stone:


    We heard, "We would like Ace and Peter in makeup." And we said, "That's not going to happen." That band is long gone… What we offered was to play with Tommy and Eric and then bring out Ace and Peter to play with us.


    The Rock Hall, which ignored KISS since the band became eligible for nomination in 1999 (25 years after releasing its first recording), made it clear only the original band members would be honored - a practice they’ve been loose about over the years. Of this, Stanley said:


    I don't need the Hall of Fame. And if there's not reciprocity, I'm not interested. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, practically every member was inducted, and virtually all 175 members of the Grateful Dead. Rules need to apply to everybody.

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  • Photo: Mike Coppola / Getty Images

    After a lot of hemming and hawing, founding Chicago singer and bassist Peter Cetera decided to skip the band’s induction ceremony. Cetera wrote on his site: "Unfortunately, this scenario doesn't work for me. I know we all did our best to make it happen, but I guess it's just not meant to be. Personally, I'm frustrated and tired of dealing with this."


    Apparently, Cetera was frustrated at the rest of the band’s unwillingness to change the key of the hit “25 or 6 to 4,” the original arrangement of which no longer sat in the vocalist’s range. Co-founder and keyboardist Robert Lamm told Rolling Stone: "He wanted to drop it down from A to E. So it's a big jump… It's not something that we wanted to do for a one-off."


    Cetera argued it wasn't as cut and dry as that, and added that his ex-bandmates - with whom he has not played since he left in 1984 - were inflexible and difficult. Cetera wrote on his official website:


    Every idea or suggestion I offered about how it could work musically was either rejected or changed by the show's producers. Together with the fact that while I sent those same emails to the group, the only reply I ever received back from them was a very snarky "Take a chill pill, dude!" Whoa! Really? At this point in my life, I don’t care to reintroduce the same negativity, misplaced egos, and petty jealousies I left behind years ago.

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  • Photo: Ghostrider2112 / Wikimedia Commons/CC 2.0

    For America’s premier party band, the timing couldn't have been worse. Around the time of Van Halen's induction into the Rock Hall, Eddie Van Halen entered rehab to deal with substance abuse challenges, while David Lee Roth was preparing to rejoin the band for a reunion tour - but couldn't until Eddie returned. 

    On top of that, bassist Michael Anthony had just been replaced by Eddie’s son, Wolfgang. Basically, the original powerhouse band wasn't able take the stage and perform. Anthony ended up attending with ousted singer Sammy Hagar and played “Why Can’t This Be Love” with members of Velvet Revolver.

    In their gracious acceptance speeches, both Anthony and Hagar acted like everything would work out fine. Hagar even sent healing wishes Eddie’s way, thanked his family, and stated “This is… It’s just hard for Mike and I to stand up here and do this, but you couldn't keep me from here with a shotgun. I’m honored to be here.”

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