Country Music’s Biggest Feuds
Folks in country music like to play nice with each other. But there are times when, as Waylon Jennings once sang, something’s got ‘em “feudin’ like the Hatfields and McCoys.” The gloves come off, sparks fly, and the real fun begins. The Boot counts down a few highlights — and low blows — from country’s pugilistic past!
First Blow: From 1967 to 1974 they were singing partners, and though Porter claimed they had been more, Dolly disagreed. When the partnership ended, Dolly wrote ‘I Will Always Love You’ for him. But there wasn’t much love in 1979, when Porter filed a $3 million breach of contract suit against her.
Final Round: The two made up. In 1988, they performed together on Dolly’s TV variety show. And she was at Porter’s bedside when he died in 2007.
9. Carrie Underwood vs. Jessica Simpson
First Blow: This battle of blonds began over a Cowboy. Carrie was linked to Dallas QB Tony Romo, but said only that they were “kindred spirits.” Carrie’s revelation that the “spirits” stayed in touch post-huddle didn’t jive with Jessica while she and Romo were dating. “I don’t understand why she would say that,” Jessica said.
Final Round: Jessica declared the supposed feud “media-driven” and praised Carrie, telling The Boot she was impressed by her “incredible voice.” Jess and Tony broke up in July.
8. Alan Jackson & George Jones vs. CMA Awards
First Blow: Nominated for 1999′s CMA Single of the Year for ‘Choices,’ George should have been celebrating, but when the CMA said he could only perform a snippet of the tune, he stayed home.
Final Round: Watching the show, George heard his buddy Alan interrupt his own song to croon a few lines from ‘Choices.’ Alan, inspired to act after visiting George following a near-fatal car wreck, earned a standing ovation. And George shed a few happy tears.
First Blow: In 2001, Brad noted that while pop music is about production, country music is about songs. One of pop’s top tunesmiths took exception. “Pop songwriters don’t take the craft of songwriting as seriously as [Brad] does?” Richard said. “Tell that to Paul McCartney.” Brad stood his ground, asserting, “You can’t convince me that a song like ‘… Baby One More Time‘ is something you’d sit there and say ‘What a message — what lyrics!’”
Final Round: The former rivals have spent time together — on the country charts. Brad keeps cranking out hits, and Richard co-wrote tunes for Keith Urban and SHeDAISY.
6. Tim McGraw vs. Curb Records
First Blow: A third best-of set would be a thrill for most artists, but not Tim McGraw. While the singer was working on new songs, Curb announced ‘Greatest Hits 3.’ “I am saddened and disappointed that my label chose to put out another hits album instead of new music,” he said in a statement. A Curb exec disagreed, saying he had “numerous conversations” with Tim’s reps about “all aspects” of the package.
Final Round: While nothing’s official, Tim’s ‘Southern Voice’ CD, out Oct. 20, could be his last for Curb, and the star may form his own record company.
5. LeAnn Rimes vs. Wilbur Rimes
First Blow: Talk about daddy issues! In 2000, LeAnn filed a lawsuit against her father, claiming he and her manager manipulated the singer and took more than $7 million of her earnings. Wilbur counter-sued, calling his kid “a spoiled brat.”
Final Round: In 2001, LeAnn hosted the ACM Awards sporting a t-shirt reading “Daddy,” and sang, “Tonight I won’t bother to think of my father.” That same night, she met future (ex-?) husband, Dean Sheremet. By the time the couple married in February 2002, father and daughter had reconciled. Wilbur walked LeAnn down the aisle and the suits were settled.
First Blow: In this case, it was a literal first blow following an alleged threat. On stage at a Nashville nightclub, Jared was confronted by John. The former ‘Nashville Star’ claimed he’d been punched in the face at John’s club, after which John was arrested for assault. Mix in nasty voicemail, lawsuits and alleged break-ins and it’s a volatile cocktail — plus the makings of a damn good country song!
Final Round: And it ain’t over yet: John Rich is scheduled to stand trial in October on assault and harassment charges.
3. Kristen Hall vs. Sugarland
First Blow: Three became two when Kristen left Sugarland in 2006 to concentrate on songwriting.The duo that remained went on became of the biggest acts in country music. She filed a $1.5 million suit against her former partners, Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles, claiming she was
promised a share of the group’s future earnings.
Final Round: Although the lawsuit is still pending, Jennifer and Kristian had cause to celebrate anyway — shortly after it was filed, the duo were nominated for CMA Entertainer of the Year.
‘Achy Breaky Heart‘ was wildly successful … and the subject of much derision. Asked for his opinion, Travis called the song “frivolous” and said he didn’t want to see country music turned into an “ass-wiggling contest.” Billy Ray fired back (using Tritt’s own lyrics!) at the 1993 CMA Awards. Accepting Single of the Year, he raised the trophy and declared: “To those who don’t appreciate it for what it is, ‘Here’s a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares‘.”
Final Round: Travis apologized to Billy Ray and even sent him a peace lily. In 2002, they performed together at the memorial for Waylon Jennings.
Asked about Toby Keith’s post-Sept. 11 anthem, ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),’ Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines said, “It’s ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant.” Toby labeled Natalie “a lousy songwriter” and toured with a backdrop depicting her consorting with Saddam Hussein. She then wore a T-shirt bearing the not-so-subtle message “FUTK.”
Final Round: In 2008, Al Gore invited the two to “make nice” by appearing together in PSAs for climate change. They agreed, but the plan was scrapped soon after, with both sides claiming scheduling conflicts.