Morrissey is no stranger to getting into bitter rivalries or, on occasion, blurting something out of line about absolutely anyone that may cross his path. At one point, it was a vicious but encouraged part of his character, but, as time has passed, it has often ended up with the former Smiths frontman having egg on his face.
One of the few constants that have remained throughout the course of his career is his bigmouth managing to strike time and time again. This has made him both loved and loathed in equal measure, as well as confirming his status as arguably the most controversial musician in the business.
The former leader of The Smiths once proclaimed, “I’ve never intended to be controversial, but it’s very easy to be controversial in pop music because nobody ever is.” However, this list tells a very different story. It’s clear that on certain occasions, Morrissey has stated things purely for the sake of stoking up controversy and trying to cause a furore rather than genuinely holding a strong opinion on the recipient of that particular tongue lashing. That doesn’t mean his words don’t carry some bite; sometimes, you can tell that Morrissey means every last painful and pointed barb.
When The Smiths first arrived on the British indie scene, they not only had a band capable of turning a whole nation into poem-reading, letter-writing, Smiths-listening fan group but a lead singer who was as charismatic as he was antagonistic. It meant, especially in the TV world of the eighties, that Morrissey was often drafted in to offer his opinion on bands and singers, usually providing a hefty soundbite capable of starting feuds and finishing careers.
In truth, though, perhaps the most damage that his razor-sharp tongue has caused is to that of his own career. Over the decades, Morrissey has unleashed fury on a whole host of different names from bizarre corners of the musical world. Nobody is immune from Morrissey’s wrath; whilst some of his insults are entertaining, others are just downright cruel. Below, we’ve got them all.
Let’s take a look!
Every band or artist that Morrisey hates:
One of his most famous feuds came when Morrissey when toe-to-toe with The Cure’s Robert Smith in a war of words that would go on for several decades. The feud may have kicked off with vitriol from Morrissey’s side rather than from The Cure man, but the latter was just as guilty for keeping the hatred alive with repeated retaliation. Tracing the source of the issues, it all began when Morrissey was interviewed as part of a feature in 1984 issue of music magazine The Face in which the interviewer provocatively asked: “If I put you in a room with Robert Smith, Mark E. Smith, and a loaded Smith & Wesson, who would bite the bullet first?”
Morrissey then unloaded his thoughts on The Cure frontman and made sure there was no stone unturned, menacingly stating: “I’d line them up so that one bullet would penetrate them simultaneously… Robert Smith is a whinge bag. It’s rather curious that he began wearing beads at the emergence of the Smiths and had been photographed with flowers. I expect he’s quite supportive of what we do, but I’ve never liked the Cure… not even ‘The Caterpillar’.”
Then in a written Q&A with NME following the release of The Cure’s universally adored album Disintegration, Morrissey had some not-so-kind words to say describing the seminal record as “absolutely vile” and added: “The Cure: a new dimension to the word ‘crap’.” To which then Smith could not resist piping up to state: “At least we’ve only added a new dimension in crap, not built a career out of it.”
In 2018, Morrissey would reveal that he regrets saying what he did, revealing: “I said some terrible things about him 35 years ago… but I didn’t mean them.” Smith then said in an interview that he accepted the apology and hadn’t even thought about the feud for 20 or 30 years.
Morrissey, speaking in an interview, once referenced the Canadian singer Michael Bublé when he said: “Fire in the belly is essential, otherwise you become like Michael Bublé – famous and meaningless.”
This was something that Bublé initially tried to laugh off and told The Sun in 2011: “I mean, what a bitch. But I wasn’t upset. I was chuffed he even knew me. Morrissey knows who I am. That’s so fucking cool.” However, seemingly, the comment did touch a nerve with the singer as he told The Guardian in 2013 that it was the worst thing that anybody has said about him in his life.
Considering his position in the music world it’s fair to say that Michael Buble is pretty meaningful, to Christmas record sales, if nothing else.
Morrissey and David Bowie had great respect for one another, even sharing the stage at the LA Forum in 1991, but this friendship wasn’t built to last. Their relationship waned in 1995 when Morrissey was invited to be a part of Bowie’s tour on some UK and European dates. Right from the start, Morrissey’s nose was put out of shape after being put on the tour announcements as a “special guest”. From that moment on, it got worse as the Mancunian singer would occasionally open proceedings with “good evening, we are your support group,” letting the sarcasm drip from his mic.
However, the breaking point would come, according to Morrissey, when Bowie would slowly replace Morrissey’s band throughout the last few songs of the set, removing members of the group like the secret police before he would be joined by Bowie for a rendition of one of Bowie’s own songs. David thought it would make for great theatre while Morrissey was left intently implying that Bowie had become a diva.
Then in 2004, Morrissey snarled: “[Bowie’s] a business, you know. He’s not really a person. I could tell you stories… and you’d never listen to ‘Let’s Dance’ again.” Later that year he also harshly claimed: “Bowie is not the person he was. Now he gives people what he thinks will make them happy and they’re yawning their heads off. And by doing that, he is not relevant. He was only relevant by accident.”
When Kylie Minogue received her OBE in 2008, Morrissey was bizarrely outraged and deemed it appropriate to slag off the Australian pop princess during his headline set at Hyde Park’s Wireless Festival, apparently taking her award as a slight. It’s an odd choice of venue for such an airing of dirty laundry but Morrissey was never easily embarrassed.
The former singer of The Smiths sarcastically told the crowd he was “thrilled to death” about the OBE, before adding: “I’m sure you’ll agree, it was completely deserved.” Minogue decided against responding to Morrissey’s sarcastic taunt and instead rose above it.
Judging by Moz’s ability to keep a feud running for some considerable time, she may have made a good decision.
Before he was a singer, Morrissey was a prolific writer. In fact, he was a prolific letter-writer to anybody who would listen. A 21-year-old Morrissey was more than happy to speak at length about his misery, and his pen pal from Scotland was another audience member waiting to hear his woes—or that’s how Moz saw it at least.
In one note, Morrissey damningly examined his new-found friend’s musical taste and penned some less than generous words about Kate Bush. Considering, at the time, Bush was one of the biggest stars in Britain, it is perhaps expected that Morrissey wasn’t a fan.
“Do you really like Kate Bush? I’m not surprised,” he wrote. “The nicest thing I could say about her is that she’s unbearable. That voice! Such trash! You’ll learn, Sonny.”
Another victim of Morrissey’s unfathomable eye was one of Britain’s most beloved singer-songwriters, the imperious Elton John, a singer who has often come under fire.
Morrissey first took aim at Elton John back in 1987 when he viciously said to NME: “He is pushing his face in all the time and telling us about his private life. Nobody’s interested. He should just go away.” It’s exactly the kind of scathing review that Morrissey would have written for the magazine as a staff writer.
Then, fifteen years later, the former Smiths man decided to reignite the feud when speaking during the documentary The Importance of Being Morrissey he somewhat hilariously joked: “Bring me the head of Elton John…which is one instance in which meat would not be murder, if it were served on a plate.”
Madonna first found herself on the receiving end of Morrissey’s acidic tongue back in 1997, a time when the Mancunian bluntly stated: “Madonna reinforces everything absurd and offensive. Desperate womanhood. Madonna is closer to organised prostitution than anything else.”
He then spoke about her performance at the BRITs in 2015 when he told fan-site True To You, “In the guise of serving the public, the BRIT Awards have hi-jacked modern music in order to kill off the heritage that produced so many interesting people.
“In 2015, we have MacDonna, who had a quiet 2014 (but who is quite usefully about to release her new album!), yet here she is again promoting her frightening career on the BRIT Awards even though her music has not ever said anything at all about British life.”
It was a vicious assessment of one of the pop world’s most celebrated singers, despite how accurate it may have been about the BRIT Awards.
His attack on Lady Gaga is undoubtedly the tamest on the list, his problem isn’t with her as a person but instead purely with the music.
Morrissey uncharacteristically stated in 2011: “I’ve met her, and she’s terribly nice. I find that it isn’t wise to attempt to judge people on their public persona, and even on the music they make. Because I’ve met so many people whose music I cannot stand, and they’re very nice.”
This came after he had previously said to Billboard: “I say without bitterness that [she] is nothing new. I like the idea of women who are in full control, but I am tired of seeing singers who cannot deliver a song without the aid of seven hundred and fifty frenzied dancers assuming the erotic. It is actually fraudulent, and the exact opposite of erotic.”