Country Music Feuds

Some of the best country songs are about cheating exes, no-good partners, and unsavory characters. Naturally, there are elements of real-life discord and disagreements that influence these lyrics. However, these feuds can be for a variety of reasons (relationships, personal preferences) or against the record industry as a whole. The Boot rounded up a list of the top 10 country feuds:

  1. Dixie Chicks & Toby Keith. Politics are the root of this feud. After Natalie Maines said that Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” was “ignorant” and “makes country music sound ignorant,” Keith retorted that she was a “a lousy songwriter.” He also fashioned a stage backdrop that featured her next to Saddam Hussein; Maines, meanwhile, countered with a t-shirt that slammed Keith. While the two parties were supposed to film a PSA together, it never happened due to alleged scheduling conflicts.
  2. Travis Tritt & Billy Ray Cyrus. Tritt made the mistake of saying that Cyrus’ hit “Achy Breaky Heart” was “frivolous” and he wasn’t interested in having country music become an “a**-wiggling contest.” Cyrus got revenge at the 1993 American Music Awards, where he accepted the Favorite Country Single award and said, “To those who don’t appreciate it for what it is, ‘Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares.'” Tritt later apologized, and the two even joined forces at Waylon Jennings’ memorial.
  3. Kristen Hall & Sugarland. Hall left Sugarland in 2006, ostensibly to devote more time to her own songwriting. However, after Sugarland blew up, Hall sued her former bandmates for $1.5 million after claiming she was due part of their earnings. The lawsuit was later settled for undisclosed terms.
  4. John Rich & Jared Ashley. Ashley claimed he was assaulted at Rich’s club. John Rich was also subsequently arrested for assault. What followed was a string of lawsuits and accusations of copyright infringement and even an allegation that Ashley’s lawyer, Chris Sevier, was stalking Rich.
  5. LeAnn Rimes & Wilbur Rimes. In 2000, LeAnn sued her own dad, amid claims Wilbur and her manager embezzled more than $7 million. Rimes’ dad, meanwhile, sued her back and called her a “spoiled brat.” By 2002, however, the pair had made up, as Wilbur escorted her down the aisle at her wedding.
  6. Tim McGraw & Curb Records. McGraw was less-than-thrilled when his label decided to release a greatest hits album instead of focusing on his new music. Curb, however, countered and said they had “numerous conversations” with McGraw and his team about “all aspects” of the package. Still, a breach of contract lawsuit followed–and McGraw won, paving the way for him to leave Curb and join Big Machine.
  7. Brad Paisley & Richard Marx. Paisley made the mistake of dissing pop music’s production and saying that country music focuses on songs. That didn’t sit well with Richard Marx, who responded, “Pop songwriters don’t take the craft of songwriting as seriously as [Paisley] does? Tell that to Paul McCartney.” Paisley, however, didn’t back down, and said, “You can’t convince me that a song like [Britney Spears’] ‘… Baby One More Time’ is something you’d sit there and say, ‘What a message — what lyrics!'”
  8. Alan Jackson and George Jones & The CMA Awards. Legend Jones was peeved after he was told he could only perform a tiny bit of his CMA Single of the Year-nominated “Choices,” and declined to attend the ceremony. Jackson, however, sang bits from “Choices” during his performance, which garnered a standing ovation. Game, set, match to the musicians.
  9. Carrie Underwood & Jessica Simpson. As with many feuds, this was over a guy–specifically, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Underwood apparently downplayed her relationship with the athlete, which irked Simpson when she was dating the star.  However, Simpson dubbed the alleged disagreement as “media-driven” and said nothing but nice things about Underwood’s voice. 
  10. Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner. The onetime creative partners parted ways in 1974–in fact, Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” about the split–but relations were frosty for years, no doubt due in part to a 1979 lawsuit Wagoner filed against her. However the pair mended fences in 1988, and were pals again until his 2007 death.