By now, you’ve surely read Cleveland Cavaliers’ majority owner Dan Gilbert’s “open letter” to fans, which was posted on the team’s official site moments after LeBron James ripped the heart out of the hard-luck city by announcing he was signing with the Miami Heat (live, on ESPN, to boot). It’s an amazing letter for several thousand reasons (the Comic Sans font, the unhinged vitriol, the “personal guarantee” that the Cavs will win a championship before the Heat do, the fact that Gilbert paraphrased the bad guy in the 1990 Steven Seagal flick “Hard To Kill” when he wrote “You can take it to the bank”), but what makes it most remarkable is how downright human of a reaction it was.
Everyone has pulled a Dan Gilbert at some point in his or her life, has raged and wailed and invoked ancient curses on someone who has wronged them in some way. I have personally gone Gilbert at least a dozen times on various fantasy sports message boards (and voicemails of ex-girlfriends) throughout the years. Human beings are not exactly rational creatures, it would seem, and it doesn’t matter if you’re an embittered rock journalist or the owner of an NBA franchise. If you’ve been slighted, cheated or hurt, sometimes you’ve just got to vent about it — gloriously, destructively, scorched-Earth-edly so.
And musicians, well, they’re humans too, and when coupled with the ego that’s practically a requirement for the job, that means they’re capable of some of the greatest Dan Gilbert moments of all time. When they’re wronged, they let people know about it, repercussions be damned. So in the wake of all this LeBron hysteria — and in honor of an owner with the cajones to just let it all come spewing out — we’ve decided to collect the finest of those knee-jerk vendettas for you now. These are the Greatest Dan Gilbert moments in music history.
Sex Pistols v. Malcolm McLaren
The Pistols were never, shall we say, a stable group, thanks to Sid Vicious’ voracious appetite for drugs, Johnny Rotten’s firecracker temper and the bizarre machinations of manager/impresario McLaren. All those tensions boiled over during the group’s infamous American tour in 1978, which lasted only 12 days and ended with the band breaking up following a disastrous gig in San Francisco. The band abandoned Rotten in California (leaving him with no money and no plane ticket home) and spent the next 30 years feuding, accusing McLaren of mismanagement and going to court over the rights to the Pistols’ catalog in 1987. Rotten and McLaren never spoke to each other again, though when the latter died in 2010, the former did release a statement, saying he would “miss” McLaren. You’ve got to admit that 30 years of silence is pretty Gilbert.
The Eagles v. The Eagles
One of the most successful rock acts of the 1970s (and beyond), the Eagles only battled more as the band’s fortunes grew. During an infamous concert in 1980, Glenn Frey and Don Felder promised to fight backstage (they did), and, for all intents and purposes, the group ended that night. However, they still owed their label an album, so Frey and Don Henley mixed the Eagles Live record in different studios on different coasts, since they couldn’t bear to be in the same room together. Henley would, of course, declare that the Eagles would reunite “When hell freezes over” (Gilbert), and when they finally did, they decided to name the accompanying live album as such.
David Lee Roth v. Van Halen
Diamond Dave fronted Van Halen through their massive run from the late ’70s to the mid ’80s, but started to butt heads with VH guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Roth went solo, Van Halen replaced him with Sammy Hagar, and the two sides spent most of the next three decades lobbing shots at each other. There was a planned reunion ’96 (after the band had booted Hagar), but when Roth joined the group on stage at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards, it was clear the old wounds never quite healed. Roth goofed around while Beck accepted an award (an act deemed unacceptable and embarrassing by Van Halen) and in the press room, the two men nearly came to blows because Eddie kept mentioning his impending hip-replacement surgery. The group would subsequently get in another dig at Roth in a press release that said, simply, “Thank you for reminding us why we broke up with you eleven years ago.” Eventually, everyone would forgive and forget, and a Roth-fronted Van Halen toured and may even be working on a new album.
Frank Black v. The Rest of the Pixies
After years of acrimony (frontman Black once threw a guitar at bassist Kim Deal during a concert in Germany), the beloved Pixies were finally dissolved. Unbeknownst to the majority of the band, of course. Black declared that the group was over in a 1993 interview with BBC Radio, and only after that did he announce his decision to the rest of the group via, of all things, a fax. That’s downright Gilbert-ian.
Ice Cube v. N.W.A, Dr. Dre v. Eazy-E
Two of the most vitriolic feuds in music history actually sprung from the same group. Ice Cube parted ways with N.W.A in 1989 (citing a lack of royalties) and things quickly got Gilbert from there. N.W.A dissed Cube with “100 Miles And Runnin'” (both the song and the video) and “Real N—-z” (where they referred to him as “Benedict Arnold”). Cube fired back with the positively lethal “No Vaseline,” on which he accused Eazy et. al of being puppets (and, of course, homosexuals). Dre v. Eazy kicked off in 1991, when the good Doctor left N.W.A at the peak of their popularity and decided to rip into Eazy with “Dre Day,” mocking him and N.W.A manager Jerry Heller in the video. Eazy did not take this lightly, releasing an EP that called out Dre in the title (and is basically one long jab at his former friend) and a video for “Real Muthaphuckkin G’s” that depicted Dre wearing mascara and lipstick.
Oasis v. Blur
In 1995, the two biggest acts in Britain went head-to-head in what has since become known as “The Battle of Britpop.” Tensions between the rough-hewn punters in Oasis and the more refined members of Blur had been simmering for roughly a year, but when both bands released singles on the same day, war was declared. Blur’s “Country House” ended up outselling Oasis’ “Roll With It” (though their were claims of price-gouging and barcode trickery leveled by Oasis’ camp). Left stung by the defeat, Oasis mastermind Noel Gallagher went totally Gilbert, telling a British newspaper that he hoped members of Blur would “catch AIDS and die.” He would later apologize for the remark, but, really, there’s no turning back once you’ve gone that far.
112 v. Sean Combs
The smoove R&B act bolted Bad Boy for the greener pastures of Def Jam in 2002, citing a lack of support from label honcho Combs (and calling their contract with Bad Boy “doo doo”). Combs was rather upset by the move, taking the group to court and questioning their manhood in an interview with MTV News, saying “We’ll take them back in, cradle them … get their minds right.” And if comparing a quartet of grown-ass men to babies in need of cradling isn’t Gilbert, well, then I don’t know what is.