In this first month of 2014, my mind has gone from “peace on Earth” to feuding rock stars…

I read an interesting article yesterday about John Fogarty and his reaction to the news that his old nemesis, record company executive Saul Zaentz, had died on January 3. Saul Zaentz was 92 years old when he passed and had enjoyed a very successful career in the music business and as an independent music producer. But Zaentz and Fogarty were not friends. Before Zaentz got into the movie business, he was an executive for Fantasy Records, which he later bought. Creedence Clearwater Revival was signed to Fantasy Records and when Zaentz bought the company, he became the owner of many of their songs.

John Fogarty vs. Saul Zaentz and Tom Fogarty

In 1984, John Fogarty embarked on a solo career and released a song called “The Old Man Down The Road”, which became a hit. Zaentz sued Fogarty, accusing him of “self-plagiarism”, since he believed “The Old Man Down The Road” sounded a lot like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hit, “Run Through The Jungle”. As owner of Fantasy Records, Zaentz owned the rights to “Run Through The Jungle”.

Official video for “The Old Man Down The Road”…

“Run Through The Jungle”

Fogarty famously played the songs on guitar in court and ultimately prevailed in the lawsuit. But the bitterness toward Zaentz lingered as the two traded lawsuits over the years. When the news of Zaentz’s death came out, Fogarty’s Facebook and Twitter accounts had links to Fogarty’s song, “Vanz Kant Danz”. The song was originally entitled “Zanz Kant Danz”, but Zaentz sued over that, too. Fogarty was forced to change the name of the song.

Fogarty’s “Vanz Kant Danz”.

Although I remembered hearing about Fogarty’s legal issues over “The Old Man Down The Road” back in the 80s, I didn’t know he had this ongoing feud with Saul Zaentz. But reading about Fogarty’s legal issues made me think of the other feuding rock stars out there, keeping the music business interesting for us outsiders.

John Fogarty also famously feuded with his brother, Tom, when John was made lead singer and chief songwriter of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Their animosity was such that Tom left the band in 1971. For the next nineteen years, Tom Fogarty was a solo artist, until he contracted AIDS from HIV tainted blood transfusions he received for back problems. He died September 6, 1990 from a tuberculosis infection caused by AIDS.

Don Felder vs. Don Henley and Glenn Frey

A few days ago, I wrote a post on Pop Rock Nation about children of rock stars. In that article, I mentioned Don Felder, former guitarist for The Eagles. Don Felder famously got fired from The Eagles over the financial arrangements coming out of a new contract that gave Henley and Frey more money than the other band members.

Last weekend, as I watched the documentary The History of The Eagles last week, I saw all involved parties interviewed. I heard them talk about the legal issues. One thing that struck me was the sadness on Don Felder’s face as he talked about missing the music he used to make with The Eagles. While I doubt he regrets fighting for his piece of the pie, I suspect he does regret losing his status as an Eagle. Perhaps he even misses the friendship he might have enjoyed while playing with those guys on stage. I have always liked the Eagles’ music, but I have to admit that I’m pretty turned off by all the feuding… and the fact that their latest album was initially only sold at Walmart.

Axl Rose vs. Slash

In the late 1980s, Axl Rose and Slash (Izzy Stradlin) worked together in Guns N’ Roses. Decades later, they are extremely estranged. In a 2012 article in Rolling Stone, Slash said “[Axl Rose] hates my guts. It’s over a lot of different stuff; I don’t even know. There’s just no communication between us.” These two guys have been unable to coexist peacefully in many years. It’s a shame, too, because together they were pretty magical.

“Welcome To The Jungle”

Slash talks to Piers Morgan about Axl Rose…

I’m sure I could sit here and write all day about rock starts who used to collaborate and now hate each other. It seems that a lot of the fighting is over money and prestige. I guess if you’re really brilliant and talented, you want to get your due. Add in the charisma and narcissism that comes with being a rock star and you’re bound to run into problems. At least John Fogarty no longer has to fight with his old enemy, now that the old man has gone on to his reward.