Top 5 Country Music Feuds
The great mullet smackdown of 1992, starring Travis Tritt and Billy Ray Cyrus
Country music singers, Hank Williams Jr. once sang, are a real close family. And like most families, sometimes they don't get along.
But unlike rap or British rock, where there are so many feuds it can be hard to keep track of them all, country musicians do a pretty good job of playing nice with each other - at least in public. Last weekend on his satellite radio show, Steve Earle made a couple of comments that led Rocks Off to believe that he and fellow "Class of 1986" alum Dwight Yoakam (both of whom will be here early next month) haven't always seen eye to eye. We hit the Internet hoping to turn up the source of this alleged friction, and couldn't find a thing.
But once in a while, even Nashville's carefully maintained negative-PR-restraining dam springs a leak, with suitably entertaining results. We figure you already know about Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks, so call that one No. 6.
5. LeAnn Rimes vs. Her Dad
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Metroplex-raised Rimes debuted at age 13 with a bang, selling millions upon millions of her 1996 album Blue thanks to the eponymous single author and DJ Bill Mack originally penned for Patsy Cline. The singer and her manager/father Wilbur were soon at loggerheads over what to do with all that money, he claiming she spent too much of it shopping, she countering that he squirreled away more than his fair share (including in a safe on her tour bus).
After years of bruising lawsuits, the two reconciled shortly before Rimes' 2005 wedding to former dancer Dean Sheremet, but her appetite for feudin' was not satisfied. The Twitter-loving Rimes has also gone head-to-head with current husband Eddie Cibirian's ex-wife Brandi Glanville, talk-show host Wendy Williams and... well, keep reading.
4. Hank Williams Jr. vs. David Allan Coe
This "feud" between the two grizzled outlaws is more like Neil Young's supposed beef with late Lynyrd Skynyrd front man Ronnie Van Zandt - more a mutual admiration society than a feud. Nevertheless, some people think Coe was taking a backhanded shot at Bocephus in his song about an encounter with the ghost of Hank's daddy, 1983's "The Ride." This argument is not helped by the fact that Hank Jr. has also recorded the song, nor by Coe's complimentary "Hank Williams Junior-Junior," which appears on 1985's 17 Greatest Hits.
On the other hand, the two collaborated on 1981's "Were You Born an Asshole?", and Junior challenges Coe's assertion that "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" is the perfect country and western song in 1999's "I'd Love To Knock the Hell Out of You." Told you we had a hard time coming up with five.
3. Faith Hill vs. Carrie Underwood
When then-newcomer Underwood won Best Female Vocalist at the 2006 Country Music Awards, TV cameras captured her fellow nominee Hill, who had just performed and was waiting backstage, looking stunned and very visibly mouthing "What!?" The clip became an instant Internet sensation and much bigger hit than Hill had had in a while; the one you see above has racked up more than 5.3 million views to date.
Both singers' PR squads immediately went into damage-control mode, floating statements like Hill was only being "playful." The two singers made nice, for the media anyway, and the whole thing was threatening to die down when LeAnn Rimes blew it up all over again by posting this statement on her Web site: "These awards shows are SO political and we all get fed up with them. We all work very hard and have for many years so to see someone come in and win Female Vocalist that has been here for a VERY short time, is a little disheartening."
We're sure whatever mid-level flack had to work overtime to clean up that mess thanks LeAnn from the bottom of her heart. Imagine if Twitter had been around back then.
2. Travis Tritt vs. Billy Ray Cyrus
Travis Tritt poked a hole ten feet tall and bulletproof in the glad-handing, softball-question atmosphere of Nashville's Fan Fair in 1992 when he told a reporter he thought Cyrus' megahit "Achy Breaky Heart" "doesn't really make much of a statement" and "seems kind of frivolous." Appalled, the press went into overdrive and put the story on the wire, and it soon became all Music City could talk about. Tritt eventually decided to appear on a local call-in program to set the record straight, which he did by standing by what he said and adding, "I don't want to see country music get to the point where it's turned into an ass-wiggling contest."
"I broke the cardinal rule of country music and I didn't even know it," Tritt wrote in his book 10 Feet Tall and Bulletproof. "You just don't say anything negative about anybody, period."
1. Tammy Wynette's Children vs. Her Widower & Doctor
Hope you had a good laugh at those last two, because this one's not funny at all. After the "Stand By Your Man" singer passed away in April 1998, her daughters Georgette Smith, Jackie Daley and Tina Jones filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her widower, George Richey, and physician Wallis Marsh in April 1999. Seeking damages in the neighborhood of $50 million, the kids claimed Marsh had overprescribed narcotics to Wynette and Richey failed to give her proper treatment.
Richey was dropped from the lawsuit in May 1999, but not before authorizing an autopsy. Wynette was exhumed in April 1999 and found to have died of heart failure; the Nashville medical examiner ruled the drugs found in her system had not affected her death. Marsh and Wynette's daughters settled out of court in 2002.
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