5 Absurd Reasons Musicians Have Been Fired From Famous Bands
People get kicked out of bands. It happens. The Beatles nixed Pete Best because Ringo was a superior drummer. Metallica got rid of Dave Mustaine because only two very low IQ rageaholic jackasses are allowed in a band and they already had James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.
Actually, Lars counts as two.
But sometimes people are kicked out of bands for absolutely stupid reasons. Here are five of the most ridiculous band firings.
Lemmy Kilmister Got Kicked out of Hawkwind for Being Arrested by Canadians (And Released Without Charge)
So you might know Lemmy Kilmister as that hard-drinking and -drugging badass who escaped the bowels of hell by kicking Satan in the balls to start a band called Motorhead.
You might also know him by his other name, "eew."
In any event, before Lemmy was the frontman for one of the most respected no-B.S. metal bands of the last 30 years, he was in a little group called Hawkwind. Yep, Hawkwind was a space rock band best known for songs like, um, I have no idea. But in 1975, they kicked Lemmy out of the band. Why?
Well, knowing Lemmy, you're probably thinking he:
1. Did so much cocaine and heroin that he took control of the tour bus and drove it into a lake, or
2. Personally sodomized all the roadies with his bass guitar in a booze-fueled rage, leaving them without support staff, or
3. Ate their manager alive in one sitting.
But you'd be wrong. They kicked him out for getting caught with some pills (in powder form) at the Canadian border. That's it. How lame. He got kicked out of a band for possession of drugs so minor, Canadian authorities had to release him (although they did hold him for five days when they mistakenly thought it was cocaine). Maybe Hawkwind had other reasons and were just using the fact that Lemmy was temporarily behind bars to get a big enough head start running away. Of course, that's foolish. Lemmy beat them all to death with a hammer two weeks later. (I'm assuming.)
Steve Perry Got Ditched by Journey for Breaking His Hip
Do you like reunion stories? You don't? Oh. Well, I'm not sure I do either. Not sure what they are. Stories where people reunite, I guess. Anyway, if you're an old cheeseball, odds are that you love Journey. And I have to confess, I like Journey, too. "Separate Ways," "Don't Stop Believin'," and "Lights" were all pop rock classics of the '80s before the band went away to become professionally invisible.
Band photo from 1992.
But then the spirit of the '80s returned! Meaning greed. And in 1996, the band reunited and put out some cheesy garbage and it sold really well. In fact, Trial by Fire made it to #12 on the Billboard charts and #36 for the year. A tour was inevitable. Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money (as people thought it funny to say back then, for some reason). But then Steve Perry had a hiking accident and broke his hip, requiring hip replacement surgery. When Perry didn't want to get it, they decided to hire some other dude who looked like a more masculine Kenny G and go on tour anyway.
"I'm not Kenny G."
But, of course, after the tour and after they nixed Steve Augeri, Journey got back together with a healed-up Steve Perry, right? Nope. Journey decided to partner up with a Filipino dude who'd been fronting a Journey cover band.
The Pixies Fired Kim Shattuck for Doing a Stage Dive
I was never quite hip enough to like the Pixies. I mean, don't get me wrong. I liked them. I understood why they were important. I fully appreciate that, without a song like "Where Is My Mind," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" would have never existed. Fun, talented, and influential, no doubt. But I also always felt they were a bit ... precious. Somehow a little too cool for school. They had a group aesthetic that said "Not caring is cool."
"No, we didn't pose for this picture. We were just busy not caring when someone snapped it without our permission."
Now, I might be totally wrong. I don't know the band, but I certainly don't seeeeeem wrong. When the band disbanded in 1993, lead singer Black Francis called lead guitarist Joey Santiago to let him know the Pixies were no more. Then he sent faxes to the rhythm section, David Lovering and Kim Deal. Yeah, that sounds pretty cool, but that's not what the story's about.
The Pixies recently got back together and replaced bassist Kim Deal with bassist Kim Shattuck, formerly of the Muffs. Things were going great. The band was touring. Then, after one leg of the tour ended, Shattuck got a call from the manager that things weren't working out. Shattuck believes it might have been due to the fact that the other Pixies are more introverted, and pointed to a show at the Mayan Theater in LA where she did a stage dive. In a Rolling Stone interview, she said, "I know they weren't thrilled about that. When I got offstage, the manager told me not to do that again. I said, 'Really, for my own safety?' And he said, 'No, because the Pixies don't do that.'"
Now maybe that's not true, but if you listen to Santiago's interview, it's not hard to believe. He claims it was impossible to fire her in person because everyone had gone home after the show. Also no one faxes anymore.
Jon Anderson of Yes Got Fired for Needing Time to Recover from Hospitalization
In 2008, after nearly 40 years in the band, Jon Anderson, lead singer of Yes, suffered an asthma attack requiring hospitalization. Doctors diagnosed Anderson with severe respiratory failure and recommended that he rest for at least six months. Faced with the serious illness of their collaborator and friend of four decades, the other members of the band were left with no choice but to tell Anderson to fuck off while they hit the road with some putz they picked up from a Yes tribute band.
"Yes, Jon will be ready to tour next year, but please get some assclown to front you immediately. If Yes
doesn't play Jones Beach this year, it would be a tragedy."
But the good news is that at least the boys in the band explained to Anderson why they were forced to tour instead of standing by their singer of 40 years. Oh wait. They totally didn't. Didn't even bother to tell him. Anderson apparently heard from a friend that he'd been replaced.
Unfortunately, Anderson's outfit was not affected by his illness.
Michael Anthony Got Fired by the Van Halen Brothers for Not Hating Sammy Hagar Enough
Here's a fun game I've been playing for the last two weeks: watch every single interview with Van Halen or members of Van Halen you can find on YouTube and then try to figure out which member ISN'T an asshole. Good luck with that. But after about 20 hours of research, I'm pretty sure that if I had to pick one dude from Van Halen not to hate, it would be bassist Michael Anthony. By all accounts, he seems to be just some dude.
"So yeah, I play bass and do backing vocals. Sometimes I eat pizza and drink beer. I like TV. And yeah, that's about it."
But to truly understand how craptastic Van Halen's firing of Anthony was, you need to get the full picture of how the Van Halen brothers operate:
Part One: The split with David Lee Roth
When the VH boys and Diamond Dave split in 1985, it was easy to blame David Lee Roth. He's made a career of being a professional narcissist, a hyperbolic cartoon of a man. It was quite easy to believe that Eddie Van Halen was dying to be an artist and Dave only cared about testosterone-driven silliness. But as another 30 years would reveal, that's probably very wrong. Instead, it seems there's a lot of truth to that DLR clip below. It might be the only clip of Roth where he is so completely focused, articulate, and angry. It's Dave minus the "boz-de-boz-de-bop" goofiness, and he makes a very compelling argument that the Van Halen brothers are little brats who make people needlessly pick sides and draw battle lines.
Part Two: The Split With Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone
So the Van Halen boys hooked up with new singer Sammy Hagar -- a man with seemingly less ego than Roth, and more of a traditional musician. A man who embraced Eddie Van Halen's desire to continually wimp up Van Halen with cheesy keyboards. So problem solved, right? Nope. After a successful decade with Sammy, it seems the boys hated him, too, and he was surprise-fired. Then came a bullshit publicity stunt where the band pretended to bring back David Lee Roth to help sell their greatest-hits album. Oh, that's only if you believe Roth instead of the VH boys, and I totally do. The band then hired ex-Extreme lead singer Gary Cherone. And then they fired him, too.
Part Three: The Firing of Michael Anthony
So Van Halen's doing nothing, Eddie's health is failing, and nothing's going on with the band. Michael Anthony says, hey, sure I'll play some dates with Sammy Hagar while nothing's going on with the band I played with for 30 years. And guess what? Anthony gets fired. As Anthony said in 2010:
"The major reason why I'm not in Van Halen is because I became friends with Sammy again. The Van Halen brothers never got over that. If they hold a grudge, they hold it forever."
Now, some may say that's bullshit, because Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie's son and Anthony's replacement) is a far better musician. Sure. Why not? It's not hard to be a better bass player than Anthony. He's merely serviceable, but, y'know, good enough to play bass for the band for 30 years, so it's not really clear why that matters. Also, anyone who says that is missing Anthony's real value: his killer high-end vocal. David Lee Roth gets it, and has spoken openly about wanting Anthony back in the band for precisely that reason:
"What we have at our fingertips is arguably one of the greatest high tenor voices ever and that was in Michael Anthony. . . . In our tiny little corner of the universe, that voice is as identifiable as the high voice in Earth, Wind & Fire, as identifiable as the high voice in the Beach Boys ... so I would always look forward to that reunion."
So after reviewing the footage, my verdict is that the VH boys are guilty of putting their own personal line-in-the-sand petty spiteful mentality over the music, just like Roth said they did 30 years ago when this whole thing started.
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