3 Bands Who Completely Disowned Their Former Members
Most bands out there have at least one former member that nobody likes to talk about, like Pete Best of The Beatles, Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, and that dead dwarf Kid Rock used to hang out with. Best got kicked out of The Beatles just before they released their first album, because he apparently just couldn't master the dazzlingly complicated time signature of "Love Me Do." Jones, a founding member of The Rolling Stones, was fired by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger for taking too many drugs, which is a sentence that sounds like a riddle a goblin wizard would ask you before deciding whether or not to turn your family into chestnuts.
In most cases, the band is better off, but oftentimes the remaining members go out of their way to be scabrous penises about it. (For example, Jones drowned in a swimming pool a month after he was fired, and Jagger and Richards heroically declined to attend his funeral.) The band may not straight-up pretend that the amputated musician never existed, but the hows and whys of that person's sudden departure are rarely discussed, sort of like that Dora the Explorer backpack your unmarried uncle keeps beneath a tarp in a corner of his garage.
Gin Blossoms -- Doug Hopkins
Doug Hopkins was the lead guitarist and contributing songwriter for Gin Blossoms, a band that was every bit a soundtrack to the early '90s as a music box with Macaulay Culkin's face on it. Incidentally, Hopkins was also the only reason the band ever became famous -- he wrote their two biggest hits, "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You," which are deeply personal songs about his own chaotic life that managed to explode up the charts despite the fact that, lyrically, they are serious bummers. For you see, Hopkins was a rampaging alcoholic, which might have had something to do with why the band was called Gin Blossoms. He's essentially the alt-rock version of Kurt Cobain, which means he dressed exactly the same but was photographed way less doing so.
This is literally one of the only pictures of him that I could find.
Seriously, take a moment to actually sit and listen to "Hey Jealousy" -- that is one of the most depressing pop songs ever written. He had chronic depression, which he tried to smother with booze, and strongly objected to the band signing to a major label, which they did anyway, because fuck him, I would've signed that contract too. Anyway, the anxiety over the label caused him to drink even more, to the point where he could barely function during the entire recording of their debut album, New Miserable Experience.
"Yeaaaaaah, Doug's in the corner, pissing on his amp agaaaaaaaain!"
This was a man whose alcoholism was so bad that he slept in barren apartments on a single mattress with no electricity because he'd spent all his money on booze -- he'd run extension cords out his window to a utility outlet on the building's exterior just so he could plug in a lamp. That is varsity alcoholism. When you're in those dire straits, your tag team partners are Nicolas Cage from Leaving Las Vegas and Robert Downey Jr.'s ghost of Christmas past.
Because of the utter calamity of his physical condition, Hopkins' bandmates fired him before the album was released. Ironically, the band's first hit song, "Hey Jealousy," 100 percent written by Hopkins, was about a failed relationship that he had destroyed with his drinking. The lyric in the song "You can trust me not to think and not to sleep around" was originally, as Hopkins wrote it, "You can trust me not to drink." But the band's lead singer changed it, ostensibly to keep people from thinking he was a drunken reprobate (again, despite the fact that the band's name is freaking Gin Blossoms). They took a brutally honest song about alcoholism and removed the only direct reference to it. The second single off the album -- "Found Out About You," to date the biggest single Gin Blossoms ever released -- was also written by Hopkins, and on the strength of those two songs New Miserable Experience went quadruple platinum.
The band's atrocious music videos were presumably the rage icing on the betrayal cake.
However, when Hopkins was kicked out of the band, the Gin Blossoms' record label withheld a $15,000 check (which his mattress-living self desperately needed) until he agreed to sign over half of his publishing royalties (the money he was entitled to as composer of the songs) and all of his mechanical royalties (the money an artist gets for each copy of their music that is produced) to the guitar player they'd hired to replace him. Keep in mind, all of this is happening while he's watching the Gin Blossoms perform "Hey Jealousy" on Letterman and selling hundreds of thousands of records on the strength of songs that he wrote. They even took his name off the "band personnel" portion of the liner notes and put his replacement's name in there instead, even though he'd played guitar on the album. Hopkins still got some money for the band's live performances and for the airplay of his songs, but not anywhere near as much as he was entitled to.
When New Miserable Experience was certified gold less than a month after it was released, the label was kind enough to send him a gold record (he still had some publishing rights, and his name wasn't deleted from any of the songwriting credits). About three weeks after he got the gold record, in celebration of the Gin Blossoms' explosive success at his expense, he snuck out of an inpatient detox center, bought a handgun, and shot himself. He didn't actually live to see the album he wrote all of the best songs for go on to sell 4 million copies.
As for the Gin Blossoms, it quickly became obvious that Hopkins was the only thing they had going for them. They never managed to repeat the success of those first two singles, and though they sold a million copies of their follow-up album (appropriately titled Congratulations, I'm Sorry, because apparently they just couldn't get enough of telling Hopkins to fuck himself), they broke up shortly after and faded into obscurity. They've since reformed and put out two more albums, but, astonishingly, nobody gives a shit.
What doesn't rock about a 50-year-old man with a tambourine?
Blink-182 -- Scott Raynor
Blink-182 is famous for having an incredibly skilled drummer in Travis Barker and a lead singer who is undeniably from space. But for their first two albums (including Dude Ranch, which produced the band's first mainstream hit, "Dammit"), they had a different drummer -- the profusely unibrowed Scott Raynor.
Raynor was very much a prototypical punk rock drummer in that every one of his beats sounded pretty much the same, yet he could play them faster than the Flash masturbates. Unfortunately, as is the case with many musicians, Raynor allegedly had a massive drinking problem. Considering Blink's co-frontman Tom DeLonge is frequently noticeably drunk on stage, Raynor must've been a perpetual sponge of ethanol for his bandmates to consider his drinking an issue.
"Man you were so wasted last night! But seriously, we're frightened for you."
There's a huge lack of verifiable details, but what is known is this -- when Blink-182 was midway through a tour with The Aquabats, Barker's band at the time, Raynor suddenly wasn't there anymore, and Barker filled in for him for the rest of the tour. At the end of the tour, Blink-182 hired Barker and went on to record Enema of the State, which launched their stratospheric late-'90s career as one of the most visible bands in the world and made them all of the money in the universe.
Maybe he's a changeling.
The band is notoriously tight-lipped about Raynor. They don't talk about him in interviews, and they don't talk about his abrupt replacement. Both of the Blink-182 documentaries, released during the height of their popularity in 1999 and 2002, do not mention Raynor whatsoever, despite the fact that a good portion of the band's history covered in the first documentary deals with the time period in which Raynor was their drummer. It's like he was redacted from a classified document. They scrubbed him from the records like a disavowed secret agent, stopping just short of Photoshopping Barker's head onto his body.
"Oh, and Scott? Feel free to leave your drums in the bathroom when we're done filming this."
According to Raynor, he was given the choice to either immediately enter treatment for his drinking or be replaced. He opted for treatment but was fired anyway, probably because the band realized Barker was a vastly more technical drummer with a more mainstream sound that would allow them to throw wide the doors of cash, mansions, and Carson Daly endorsements. They were apparently 100 percent correct, because after they kicked Raynor out, Blink-182 was fucking everywhere -- they were perpetually on MTV, they showed up in American Pie to watch the shooting star that was Jason Biggs' film career, and they even appeared in a horrifically cheesy made-for-ABC movie about the history of rock 'n' roll starring Major Dad. I know, because I taped every single television appearance Blink-182 made in 1999 and 2000, which is an achievement I include in my resume.
Fun fact: Barker is credited as "Scott Raynor" in American Pie, because absolutely no one involved
in that production gave a whistling pig's anus about this band.
The Blink-182 song "Man Overboard" is explicitly about kicking Raynor out of the band, an obviously sensitive subject that was tastefully dealt with by hiring a bunch of dwarfs to demean themselves for three minutes in the song's music video. To date, that's pretty much the only public acknowledgment of his firing that Blink-182 has ever made, outside of the meticulously sourced Blink-182 biography Tales from Beneath Your Mom.
There are probably less tactful ways to address a friend's alcoholism, but at this particular moment all of them are escaping me.
Pink Floyd -- Syd Barrett
Syd Barrett was the original lead singer and guitarist for Pink Floyd, and by all accounts, he may well have been the most lip-wigglingly insane person to ever walk the planet Earth. He directed the band through its incredibly experimental stage in the 1960s, which is another way of saying he struggled to write music through the fog of acid in which he perpetually existed.
Despite this handicap, he was remarkably prolific.
Barrett already had undiagnosed mental problems, most likely schizophrenia, which he only made worse by eating tabs of LSD like Pez. He would routinely stand perfectly still on stage, repeatedly striking the same chord on his guitar for the entire performance, regardless of what song the band was actually supposed to be playing at the time. Other times he would stand with his back to the audience, staring at the amplifiers like he was on a vision quest to count all of the wasps flying out of them, and not play a single note. It got so bad that the band had to hire another guitarist just to fill in for Barrett when he was too out of his mind to perform, which tended to be most of the time. As his behavior moved from erratic to completely unreliable, Pink Floyd hired David Gilmour (who would eventually become Barrett's replacement) to play guitar while Barrett just kind of wandered around the stage like a deaf guy at a Greyhound station, if he showed up at all.
Since Barrett had written all their songs up to that point, the band was reluctant to give him the boot entirely (unlike certain Gin Blossoms who will remain nameless), so they tried to keep him around as a non-touring member. He apparently resented the ever-loving shit out of this, because on the very last practice session he attended, he presented the band with a new song called "Have You Got It Yet?" which consisted of him playing the song, the band doing their best to replicate it, and him patiently correcting them by playing an entirely different song while singing "Have you got it yet?" The band reportedly repeated this process a handful of times before realizing they were being trolled and kicking Barrett the hell out.
"See, have you got the joke yet, is what I'm asking. The joke being you guys are assholes."
For several months after, he would show up in the front row at Pink Floyd shows just to stare at his replacement, Gilmour, like he was trying to melt Gilmour's skeleton with his mind, which is quite possibly exactly what he was attempting to do.
Here he is trying the same technique on Dick Clark.
After Roger Waters, the bass player, took over lead singing and songwriting duties for Pink Floyd, the band's output switched to atmospheric songs about depression, death, and existentialism, which was apparently just what kids in the 1970s were yearning for after The Beatles broke up. They actually wrote a few songs about Barrett, too, including the appropriately titled "Wish You Were Here" and "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," which seem to send conflicting messages. He actually showed up, unannounced and uninvited (though completely welcome), during the recording of the latter, having shaved off his hair and eyebrows and gained the weight of an extra person, because being crazy will transform you into a WWE mascot. And that was it -- with the exception of Waters (who ran into him once more, in a chance encounter on the street), nobody in Pink Floyd ever saw Barrett again. In fact, virtually no other living soul ever saw him again. It's like he went to live in TRON with Jeff Bridges.
The only reason anyone ever heard of Pink Floyd is because they kicked Barrett out of the band, and the only reason anyone ever heard of Barrett is because he got kicked out of Pink Floyd. That's the kind of relationship I want with my friends.
Tom was once a member of Toad the Wet Sprocket, although the current members will deny it to this day. Read his novel Stitches and follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.
For more rock star insults, check out 5 People Cheated Out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and 5 Absurd Reasons Musicians Have Been Fired From Famous Bands.