Rockers vs. Critics: The 10 Greatest Musician-Journalist Feuds


(Source: Spinner)

Music criticism has existed since the 1700s, creating relationships between artists and writers that can range from close pals to bitter enemies.

Of course, there are musicians who can’t take a bad review and critics who can’t stop from going a little overboard, leading to controversies and, in some cases, decades-long feuds.

Below, we’ve compiled 10 of the best rocker-journo fights, featuring some of music’s biggest names. Between unhinged faxes and alleged fisticuffs, these are some classic moments from rock ‘n’ roll history.

Courtney Love vs. Lynn Hirschberg

In a 1992 Vanity Fair profile, journalist Lynn Hirschberg reported that Courtney Love’s heroin use overlapped with the early stages of her pregnancy with daughter Frances Bean Cobain. Thanks to the article, the baby was taken by Los Angeles Children’s Services and returned months later after a legal battle.
At the time, Love left harassing voiecmails for Hirschberg, calling her a “c–t,” and threatened to beat her with Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar statue in 1995. The feud is still going strong: In 2011, Courtney implicated Hirschberg’s article in Kurt Cobain’s suicide, saying, “She humiliated and emasculated him. She sent him over the edge. She deserves most of the blame for his death.”

Lou Reed vs. Lester Bangs

The Lou Reed and Lester Bangs feud is more complicated than most journo-musician dust-ups. Bangs was a manic fan that could overly praise the Velvet Underground frontman’s albums while completely slagging others. While commending Reed’s talent in several reviews, Bangs still had a hard time with Reed as a person, calling him “a liar, a wasted talent, an artist continually in flux, and a huckster selling pounds of his own flesh.” Reed would never let Bangs have the last word, and the pair seemed to fight all the time. Maybe they just liked to argue with each other?

Axl Rose vs. Marc Allan

In 1991, Guns N’ Roses released “Get in the Ring,” a profanity-laced track that personally dissed journalists who drew singer Axl Rose’s ire.

Lesser known and definitely crazier, Axl fired off a scathing 1992 missive (via fax) to Indianapolis Star critic Marc Allan, who panned a GNR show after the band took the stage two hours late. Axl promised Allan that he could “suffer your redneck, blind, narrow minded refuse about ranting — you nor anyone will ever dictate my actions, attitudes, comments, oratation, and musical performances on stage.”

Calling himself Allan’s “Rock N’ Roll nightmare,” Axl strangely signed off by saying “stay away from microwaves.”

Billy Corgan vs. Jim DeRogatis

Jim DeRogatis, a Chicago Sun-Times music journalist and Sound Opinions co-host, has always been the Smashing Pumpkins’ biggest troll. As Flavorpill points out, DeRogatis wrote an unfavorable review of the band’s Siamese Dream album in ’93, comparing it to “sophomoric poetry.” Corgan retorted that Jim was a “fat f—.”DeRogatis is no longer invited to any Pumpkins shows, but that hasn’t stopped the writer from continuously trashing Corgan in the press.

Keith Richards vs. Markus Larsson

Three years after penning a negative review of a Rolling Stones concert, particularly the performance of Keith Richards, Swedish journalist Markus Larsson found himself face-to-face with the legendary guitarist. Before Richards realized who he was talking to, he said he wanted to meet Larsson “one day in a dark room.” After a heated exchange in which Richards said “You’re going to be lucky that you got out alive,” Larsson claims that Keef smacked him in the head before storming out of the room. Charges were never filed.

Ryan Adams vs. Jim DeRogatis

Ryan Adams used to be kind of a jerk before he kicked booze and got married to the lovely Mandy Moore. Jim DeRogatis (aka The Bane of Corgan) doesn’t really like Ryan Adams, and every time the Heartbreaker kid came to town, DeRo took the chance to give him an unfavorable concert review that ended with the line “Note to Ryan Adams: Wish you were anywhere but here.” Finally, Adams couldn’t take it any longer. He called up the journalist and left a biting voicemail about the “stupid, bulls— review” that ended with this soundbite: “I’m going keep coming back and you can’t f—ing stop it. Old man, it’s time for you to probably get out of the f—ing business.”

M.I.A. vs. Lynn Hirschberg

Eighteen years after her feud with Courtney Love, Lynn Hirschberg drew M.I.A.’s ire thanks to a somewhat unflattering New York Times profile of the Sri Lankan-born singer. One moment seized upon by other outlets came when M.I.A. discussed international politics while eating truffle fries, a detail that painted her as an elitist hypocrite.
Enraged, she posted Hirschberg’s personal phone number on Twitter and released audio of the interview showing that the journalist had rearranged quotes and actually ordered the fries herself. In the end, the Times issued a small correction and nobody came off looking any better.

The Airborne Toxic Event vs. Pitchfork

Following the release of their self-titled debut album in 2008, L.A. quintet the Airborne Toxic Event were aggressively panned by Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen, who gave the LP a 1.6 and called it “almost insulting in its unoriginality.”
The band, fronted by former music journalist Mikel Jollett, decided to respond, politely, with an open letter: “We have to admit that we found ourselves oddly flattered by your review. I mean, 1.6? That is not faint praise. That is not a humdrum slagging. That is serious fist-pounding, shoe-stomping anger.”
They concluded by inviting Cohen to a show, but since then Pitchfork hasn’t reviewed anything by the band, who are set to put out their third album in 2013.

Morrissey vs. NME

In a 2007 interview with NME, Morrissey spoke on immigration, stating the “British identity disappears” when more and more foreigners come to London. Moz thought this painted him as a racist, and he immediately took legal action. In June 2012, the British publication issued an apology to the former Smiths singer, saying, “We never set out to upset Morrissey and we hope we can both get back to doing what we do best.” Despite saying “sorry,” NME probably won’t be doing an interview with the Pope of Mope anytime soon.

Sonic Youth vs. Robert Christgau

The self-proclaimed Dean of American Rock Critics, Robert Christgau is not necessarily a fan of Sonic Youth. Though he has given the band’s albums Daydream Nation and Goo A-ratings, other reviews are the equivalent to telling the noise rockers to just pack up their instruments and jump off a bridge. Thurston Moore and co. responded to their worst critic on the song “Kill Yr Idols,” saying “I don’t know why/You wanna impress Christgau/Ah let that s— die/And find out the new goal.” The Village Voice critic was not impressed, and responded in a scathing, casual way: “I wasn’t flattered to hear my name pronounced right, not on this particular title track.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: