Top 10 Saddest Band Breakups



Top 10 Saddest Band Breakups

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Jacob Pitts
Their music is forever, but we'll never get over these band breakups. For this list, we'll be looking at the breakups that disappointed and devastated fans. Our countdown includes Oasis, Pink Floyd, Eagles, and more!

Top 10 Saddest Band Breakups

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Saddest Band Breakups.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the breakups that disappointed and devastated fans. We’ll also be defining bands as any musical group, including vocal ones who don’t play instruments. And we’re also considering groups that got back together after their breakup.

Let us know in the comments which musical splits you grieved the most, and which bands you hope stay together forever.

#10: *NSYNC

Unlike their pitch-perfect harmonies, our first group’s working relationships seem to have hit some wrong notes. When NSYNC went on hiatus at the peak of their success in 2002, most of the group thought it was to rest between albums and let Justin Timberlake record his solo music. The group was still waiting to make another album as a quintet, not knowing that they were done permanently and Timberlake had quietly moved on to greener pastures. He later dissed some of his bandmates without naming names, claiming that he “cared about the music” more than some of them. Although they’ve reunited for special occasions, we’ve long said “Bye Bye Bye” to the idea of another NSYNC album.

#9: The Smashing Pumpkins

Of everyone to blame for the 90s alt-rock band’s first breakup, frontman Billy Corgan goes with…Britney Spears? When announcing the Smashing Pumpkins’ split in 2000, Corgan cited the rise of teen pop and loss of interest in alternative acts as a major cause. Music was moving in a new direction, and the band’s most recent albums, “Adore” and “Machina,” were less successful than their predecessors. In reality, the bubblegum boom was far from the only reason for the Smashing Pumpkins’ breakup. They could barely hold together a lineup, with members like drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and bassist D’arcy Wretzky facing addiction issues. Although Corgan later reunited the band, all attempts to include Wretzky have gotten ugly and fallen through.

#8: Oasis

From F-bombs to fistfights, the bickering Britpop brothers have provided plenty of chaotic moments over the years. Things reached a boiling point in 2009, when Liam Gallagher canceled an Oasis gig due to laryngitis and sued his brother Noel, who claimed the true cause was a hangover. Later that week, Noel quit the group and said he “simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.” The remaining members of Oasis, including Liam, formed a group called Beady Eye, while Noel started his own project. Not only do Oasis fans have to deal with the constant fighting, but the last album with both brothers, “Dig Out Your Soul,” was released all the way back in 2008.

#7: The White Stripes

Band breakups often feel like a divorce, but this garage rock duo’s split had nothing to do with their romantic life: Jack and Meg White already married and divorced before the White Stripes ever rose to fame. In a 2011 statement, the pair denied the breakup was due to creative differences, saying, “It’s mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.” Jack later revealed that Meg, who suffers from anxiety and has lived privately since the split, had lost enthusiasm for the band. As much as we’d love some bands to continue forever, knowing when to stop is important and the White Stripes went out on a high note.

#6: Pink Floyd

Not only did bassist Roger Waters leave the band in 1985, but he considered it the end of Pink Floyd even though the remaining members weren’t going anywhere. Waters took them to court over continuing to use the band’s name, calling it “a spent force creatively” without him. Frontman David Gilmour won the case, moving forward as Pink Floyd with drummer Nick Mason. Waters and Gilmour eventually made up for their successful reunion concert in 2005, even sharing a viral group hug, but it didn’t last forever. Gilmour officially announced Pink Floyd’s disbandment in 2015, and as of 2020 Waters’ feud with Gilmour has reignited. A new single by Pink Floyd was released in 2022 in support of Ukraine after the invasion by Russia, but as you might’ve guessed, Waters did not participate. Even if they never collaborate again, their fans deserve to see professionalism and respect among their idols.

#5: One Direction

If you were a teenage girl in 2015, you might remember exactly where you were when you heard that Zayn was leaving 1D. While he initially claimed to want a private life, it wouldn’t be long before he teased solo music. One Direction wished him well and continued as a quartet, but soon released their final album, “Made in the A.M.” In his first interview since quitting, Zayn called their music generic and said that he couldn’t be himself. Years later in 2019, former bandmate Liam Payne claimed Zayn never said goodbye, while Harry Styles said his departure brought the group closer. Due to the way things ended, a reunion with all five members is unlikely.

#4: Destiny’s Child

This R&B trio became “Independent Women” much sooner than we would’ve liked. After losing three members, Destiny’s Child had finally assembled their best-known lineup: Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams. The magic was short-lived, though, and soon the members’ solo careers took off. They’ve reunited for live performances, including at Beyoncé’s 2013 Super Bowl halftime show and 2018 Coachella set, but they could have done so much more before disbanding. Their last album, 2004’s “Destiny Fulfilled,” marked the first time all members received lead vocals and songwriting credits, and it would have been exciting to watch them progress as a group. On the bright side, they’ve had amazing solo careers and are still good friends today.

#3: R.E.M.

It’s the end of the band as we know it...and we’re not fine. Thankfully, there was no big fight or tragedy that led to the dissolution of R.E.M. in 2011. After over 30 years together, the three-piece band was simply ready to call it quits and move on from the music industry. Lead singer Michael Stipe revealed that they thought about breaking up even earlier after their 2004 album “Around the Sun” underperformed, but they stuck around longer to redeem themselves. While their decision is refreshing compared to all the bands who continued well past their prime, fans have missed out on seeing R.E.M. evolve throughout their fourth decade in the game.

#2: Eagles

These 70s soft rockers certainly “took it to the limit.” The on-stage breakup of the Eagles played out like an “SNL” skit, but it was no laughing matter to their fans. When guitarist Don Felder said “You’re welcome, I guess” in a standoffish tone after Senator Alan Cranston and his wife thanked them for performing at a benefit concert, frontman Glenn Frey threatened to beat up Felder for his faux-pas. Their conflict escalated between each song, with both members going back and forth about what they’d do to the other after their setlist. While the physical portion of the fight never happened, the damage was done and the Eagles blindsided their fans with a 14-year hiatus immediately after the performance.

#1: The Beatles

By the late 1960s, the Fab Four had changed dramatically from their beginnings. Each Beatle used their famous “White Album” to explore new styles of music, with Rolling Stone calling it “four solo albums under one roof.” John Lennon disliked Paul McCartney’s upbeat pop numbers while McCartney was turned off by Lennon’s increasingly experimental pieces, and both of them rejected George Harrison’s songs altogether. Some believe that Yoko Ono didn’t help the rising tensions, and the group officially broke up at the turn of the decade. The 1970s saw many failed reunion attempts, but after the the 1980 murder of John Lennon and George Harrison’s death from lung cancer in 2001, all four Beatles will sadly never “Come Together” again.