The Biggest Country Music Feuds Of All Time

Whether you're a country music fan or not, the genre has a way of conveying all types of emotions. There are songs about heartache, country pride, family, and, yes, the love of whiskey and pickup trucks. With these musical acts sharing the same love of telling real-life stories and putting them into a song, it's well-known that country artists enjoy collaborating. 

Some of the biggest country duets include 1978's "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," originally sung by country legends Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. There is Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's 1983 hit, "Islands in the Stream," and leading ladies Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert with 2014's "Somethin' Bad." We can go on, and on, and on. 

Of course, not everything in country music is hunky dory. Some country stars wouldn't dare sing duets together after they went public with their feuds. From belittling one another's records as "not country enough" to feuding over politics, the stars below weren't afraid to call out their counterparts and create some of the biggest drama in country music. Maybe they should take some advice from Tim McGraw when he sang, "Don't hold a grudge or a chip and here's why/Bitterness keeps you from flyin'/Always stay humble and kind."

Alan Jackson and George Jones against the CMAs

What happens when you give a country legend just a measly minute to perform his hit song at the biggest country award show? He doesn't show up, that's what. 

Celebrated artist George Jones, known for his country hits like "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "White Lightning," was nominated for single of the year at the 1999 Country Music Awards for his hit "Choices." Jones had already taken home the Grammy for best male country vocal performance for his song. According to The Washington Post, Jones was supposed to perform the song at the CMAs. However, Jones refused to sing when producers told him he had to perform a shortened version, and the legend did not go to the award show. Asking Jones to cut his song short didn't sit right with country musicians, especially Alan Jackson, who was also set to perform his hit "Pop a Top." Jackson shocked the CMAs audience when he didn't finish his own song but belted out part of Jones' song, "Choices." He received a standing ovation and walked offstage. 

During an interview with Prime Time Country, Jackson shared that it's normal for award shows to ask everyone performing to shorten their songs, but added, "George Jones isn't everybody. ... He deserved a little more than just anybody else... He deserved a little more respect, I thought." Jackson was later surprised when Jones phoned in during the interview, and told Jackson, "Well, I'll tell you what, you made this old boy feel awful proud last night."

Richard Marx against Brad Paisley

Country artist Brad Paisley messed with the wrong guy when he downplayed pop music. Top songwriter Richard Marx, who wrote for both pop and country artists, including Martina McBride, Celine Dion, and Josh Groban, released a memoir in 2021 titled "Stories to Tell." Marx looked back on a Country Music Seminar where the question was asked, "What is the real difference between pop and country?" The author was struck by Brad Paisley's answer: "Well, country music is really about the song and the craft of writing. And pop music is really all about the production." Perhaps Paisley wasn't the type to belt out the lyrics of any Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC songs in his car. His comment did not go unnoticed.

Marx was frustrated and let his feelings out in an interview with The Tennessean (via "Stories to Tell"). He shared that he thought Paisley's words lacked respect, adding, "Sorry, but it's also tough to swallow coming from a guy who's been famous for nine minutes." The reporter then called Paisley, who said (according to Marx), "I didn't mean to make Richard mad. I like his music. In fact, I'm the one who bought his last album." Marx mentioned that line in 2012 on Twitter but seems to have saved the rest for his memoir.

While it doesn't seem like these two stars worked out their issues, they've both continue to succeed in the music business. 

Tim McGraw against Curb Records

It's not uncommon to hear about artists getting into legal battles and contract disputes with their record companies. However, things can get ugly, as was the case between Tim McGraw and the first label to sign him, Curb Records. Curb was reportedly unhappy that McGraw recorded tracks for his upcoming album "Emotional Traffic" because, per his contract, albums were to be spaced out by 12 to 18 months, Billboard reported. The label sued the artist for breach of contract. McGraw and his team believed he was fulfilling his duties and giving Curb his last record. He wanted out of the label.

Per Billboard, McGraw countersued Curb Records and claimed that the company had delayed his album and released several greatest hits albums to keep him under contract. In November 2011, a judge released McGraw from the record label, and in May 2012, he signed with Big Machine Records. McGraw told the Associated Press (via Macomb Daily), "It's time for me to look at my new partner in the business of making records and radio, and just sort of step on the gas."

However, that wasn't the end of their feud. After he released the album "Two Lanes of Freedom" with Big Machine, Curb sued McGraw for copyright infringement in April 2013, claiming that he was under their contract when he recorded the songs. In February 2013, the Tennessee Supreme court refused to hear the case. The claims were also dismissed by a Tennessee federal judge in August 2013, though the contract breach dispute continued, per The Hollywood Reporter.

LeAnn Rimes against Wilbur Rimes

It's tough to hear about celebrities suing their parents. Still, country singer LeAnn Rimes had to do just that when she filed a lawsuit against her dad, Wilbur Rimes, and her manager, Lyle Walker, for stealing upwards of $7 million of her earnings, per MTV News

LeAnn's mother, Belinda Rimes, filed the suit in May 2000 since the songstress was only 17. The lawsuit claimed that Wilbur and Lyle Walker received as much as 30 percent of LeAnn's income by charging unreasonable fees and exploiting LeAnn Rimes Entertainment Inc. The two men also claimed over $8 million in royalty payments, while she received around $3 million between 1996 to 1999. According to ABC News, LeAnn said in 2005, "I go by saying, 'Money is the root of all evil.' And I definitely believe that the love for money is the root of all evil because it changes people." Her father countersued with claims that his daughter was spending too much of her money. LeAnn said, "I was being called a spoiled brat by some people."

Things changed between LeAnn and her father when she was heading to the altar to wed her first husband, Dean Sheremet, in 2002. The pair settled things peacefully for the sake of her wedding. She told ABC News, "There's so much more life ahead of me. To carry on a burden of hating someone. It's just not worth it. I've never hated my dad. I just wanted a dad." 

Kristen Hall against Sugarland

The country band Sugarland found success when they released their debut album "Twice the Speed of Life" in 2004. Made up of Kristen Hall, Jennifer Nettles, and Kristian Bush, the band scored big with their record's single, "Baby Girl," when it reached No.2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and spent a whopping 46 weeks on the chart overall.

The band's first album would reach Double-Platinum status, but there was a rift between Hall and her bandmates. Hall left Sugarland in January 2006 with an announcement on their website that stated (via CMT), "Kristen has decided that she wants to stay home and write songs." Without Hall, the band released the albums "Enjoy the Ride" and "Love on the Inside." In 2008, Hall filed a lawsuit against her old bandmates and sued them for $1.5 million, claiming a third of the band's profits belonged to her.

Hall's lawsuit claimed that she came up with the name Sugarland and helped the band find success as their manager. She also claimed that she used her credit cards to finance the band before they made it big and "co-wrote every song " on their first album. According to Billboard, Hall's suit went up to $14 million. Nettles and Bush argued there was never a profit-sharing agreement when Hall decided to part ways with the band. CBS News reported that the former band members reached an undisclosed settlement in November 2010. 

Travis Tritt against Billy Ray Cyrus

Country star Travis Tritt had a few not-so-nice words to say to up-and-comer Billy Ray Cyrus after he released his 1992 song, "Achy Breaky Heart." The track off of Cyrus' debut album, "Some Gave All," had five weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and has undoubtedly been Cyrus' claim to fame. Tritt recounted in his memoir, "10 Feet Tall and Bulletproof," that he told a reporter he didn't care for the music video in which Cyrus is greeted by a crowd of fans as he exits a limousine. Tritt later explained to The Baltimore Sun, "I simply said I didn't like a song, didn't like a video, and darned sure didn't want to turn country music into an a**-wiggling contest." 

At the American Music Awards in January 1993, Cyrus won the award for top country single for "Achy Breaky Heart." He hit back at Tritt in his acceptance speech, stating, "To those people who don't like 'Achy Breaky Heart,' here's a quarter, call someone who cares," referencing Tritt's hit song, "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)."

Months after his win, Cyrus opened up about their feud, telling the press, "I think his bitterness for me is so deeply embedded inside him that until he gets rid of that, it will eat him like a cancer..." (via News & Record). In his memoir, Tritt shared that he apologized to Cyrus on the radio and sent him a peace lily. "I've talked to Billy Ray Cyrus since, and no lightning bolts came down from the clouds," Tritt wrote.

The Chicks against Toby Keith

Toby Keith and Natalie Maines of The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) had an all-out war in the early 2000s. It all started when Keith released the song "Courtesy of the Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)" in response to the tragic events of 9/11. He told CBS News, "I was so angry when we were attacked here on American soil that it leaked out of me." However, Maines wasn't a big fan of the tune and, in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News (via CMT), she said: "It's ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant. It targets an entire culture, and not just the bad people who did bad things. You've got to have some tact. Anybody can write, 'We'll put a boot in your ass.' But a lot of people agree with it.'" 

Indeed, the song did become one of Keith's biggest hits. "Courtesy of the Red, White, And Blue" topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, while his album, "Unleashed," won the award for favorite country album at the American Music Awards in 2003. Despite his success, Keith didn't let Maines' words go unnoticed.

Keith would bash Maines to CMT, saying, "...she's not a songwriter," and during his concerts, would project a fake image of Maines hugging Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Maines fired back when she wore a T-shirt that read, "F.U.T.K" at The Academy of Country Music Awards in May 2003. However, Keith was over their feud by that October. "I'm embarrassed about the way I got myself sucked into all of that," he shared with CMT.

Eric Church against Garth Brooks

At the 2017 Country Music Association Awards, Garth Brooks took the stage and decided to lip-sync his song "Ask Me How I Know," which angered country singer Eric Church. When Brooks won entertainer of the year, an award for which Church was also nominated that night, it only seemed to irritate Church further. 

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2018, Church expressed his frustrations with Brooks, stating, "So the winner of the biggest category of the night lip-synced in the biggest moment of the show?" He also explained, "To me, lip-syncing is and always will be a red line. It's fabricated. I don't want young artists thinking it's okay, because it's not." After Brooks won entertainer of the year again in 2019, Church altered the lyrics of Waylon Jennings' "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" during a concert to sing, "I know Garth didn't do it this way" (via ET Canada). Per unconfirmed reports from Saving Country Music, fans brought signs declaring Church their true entertainer of the year, leading Church to make a remark about ticking off the wrong group of fans.

Brooks didn't express animosity toward Church. He told Nash 93.1 (via Saving Country Music), "But with 'E,' the crazy thing was that we hugged each other right before. ...the line, 'They pissed the wrong fans off,' that's perfect. Because if our name hadn't been called, then in Knoxville, there would have been signs everywhere [too]. Those guys will keep going, and the year he wins, it will be the sweetest year for him." Church won the award at the 2020 CMAs.

Tyler Hubbard against Brian Kelley

Famous country duo Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley founded Florida Georgia Line in 2010. Hubbard and Kelley succeeded with their debut single "Cruise" from their 2012 album "Here's to the Good Times," which peaked at the top spot on Billboard's Hot Country Songs for 24 weeks. The duo's songs like "This Is How We Roll" and "Talk You Out of It," among many others, have also been loved by country fans. Still, after five studio albums, Hubbard and Kelley announced they were performing their last show together in August 2022 in Minnesota.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Hubbard and Kelley showed signs of a rift during the presidential race in 2020, where Hubbard and his wife, Hayley, supported President Joe Biden, while Kelley expressed support for Donald Trump. As a result, Hubbard unfollowed Kelley on Instagram with Tyler sharing on SiriusXM's Exit 209, "I said, 'Hey buddy, I love you. And I love you a lot more in real life than on your Stories right now" (via the Los Angeles Times).

The duo launched solo careers, with Kelley releasing his album "Sunshine State of Mind" in June 2021 and Hubbard set to release his solo album in January 2023. Talking about their rumored split, Hubbard told People in February 2022, "I think 'taking a break' is the proper term, as opposed to breaking up." So, for now, fans will have to listen to the duo make it big as solo stars. 

Maren Morris against Brittany Aldean

The feud between Maren Morris and Jason Aldean's wife, Brittany Aldean, all started in August 2022 after Aldean shared a makeup reveal video on Instagram with a caption that read, "I'd really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase. I love this girly life." Well, the comment didn't sit well for many, with singer Cassadee Pope slamming Aldean's words and insinuating that they were transphobic on Twitter.

Morris responded to Pope's tweet, siding with the "Say It First" songstress. She wrote, "It's so easy to, like, not be a scumbag human? Sell your clip-ins and zip it, Insurrection Barbie." Aldean decided to explain her choice of words in an Instagram Story, sharing in part (via Us Weekly), "Love is protecting your child until they are mature enough as an adult to make their own life decisions." But it didn't end there. Both stars' husbands got in the mix (Morris is married to country singer Ryan Hurd). Aldean then joined FOX's Tucker Carlson, where she further discussed her opinion on gender. At the same time, Tucker called Morris a "lunatic" and a "fake country music singer."

After hearing Tucker's comments, Morris created T-shirts that read, "Lunatic Country Music Person" and added the Trans Lifeline crisis hotline number, with the proceeds going towards GLADD and Trans Lifeline. Morris shared on Instagram that fans raised $150,000. Jason Aldean's PR firm, The GreenRoom, dropped the country star as a client after his wife's remarks. 

Zac Brown against Luke Bryan

The music business is competitive, but country stars tend to get along for the most part. Country icons Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers have been friends for decades. Darius Rucker invited his pals, Charles Kelley, Luke Bryan, and Jason Aldean, to be in his music video for "Straight to Hell," while Miranda Lambert was the maid-of-honor for Ashley Monroe's wedding. 

It was a surprise that Zac Brown, the lead singer of The Zac Brown Band, attacked Luke Bryan's 2013 hit "That's My Kind of Night." During an interview with a Vancouver radio station (via Wide Open Country), Brown shared, "I love Luke Bryan, and he's had some great songs, but this new song is the worst song I've ever heard. I see it being commercially successful in what is called country music these days, but I also feel like that the people deserve something better than that." Brown added that the song made him want to puke.

Jason Aldean got into the mix to show his support for Bryan. He shared on Instagram, "To those people runnin their mouths, trust me when i tell u that nobody gives a s*** what u think. Its a big ol hit so apparently the fans love it which is what matters." At the 2013 Country Music Association Awards, Bryan showed no hard feelings when he and Brown hugged, via Taste of Country

Kelsea Ballerini against Chase Rice

Country songstress Kelsea Ballerini expressed her frustrations with "Eyes on You" artist Chase Rice when he performed at an outdoor concert in Tennessee in June 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Us Weekly, Rice posted a since-deleted Instagram Story showing the packed event. Ballerini took to Twitter and shared, "Imagine being selfish enough to put thousands of people's health at risk, not to mention the potential ripple effect, and play a NORMAL country concert right now. @ChaseRiceMusic, We all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait."

Ballerini wasn't the only one who was angered by Rice's concert, and he addressed the backlash on Instagram. Rice shared, "Everybody had a blast, but then once I posted the video, a lot of people seeing that online had a big problem with how the show looked, how the show went down. And I understand, there's a lot of varying opinions, a lot of different opinions on Covid-19, how it works with live music, crowds, and what all that looks like." However, a VP for the music venue told Variety that the concert followed Covid-19 protocol, which included reducing the number of concert-goers, instituting temperature checks, and giving out sanitizers. But, he added that rules might change for future concerts.

Dolly Parton against Porter Wagoner

Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner were country music's biggest duo in the '60s and '70s. They worked together on numerous albums and gave fans songs like 1974's "Please Don't Stop Loving Me," which became the duo's first No.1 hit. However, tension arose between Parton and Wagoner, with the "Jolene" songstress revealing decades later to the Los Angeles Times, "I don't mean this in a bad way ... but he very much was a male chauvinist pig ... That's why we fought like crazy, because I wouldn't put up with a bunch of stuff."

Per her website, Parton left Wagoner and his band in 1974, but not without releasing a farewell song to him, titled "I Will Always Love You." Parton's career launched soon after. In 1979, Wagoner sued Parton for $3 million over breach of contract (per Rolling Stone). The lawsuit was settled, and in a 1983 interview with UPI, Wagoner admitted that he had nothing but love for Parton. "I love the woman. I'm not bitter that she left me. That's what she and I worked for. She's a beautiful lady. We had a difference in a litigation of contract," he said.

Wagoner died in October 2007, and Parton was at his bedside before he passed. Wagoner's daughter, Debra, shared with Closer Weekly, "It meant everything in the world to us as family for her to share that time." 

Bobby Bones against Kacey Musgraves

Radio personality Bobby Bones ruffled the wrong feathers when he labeled Kacey Musgraves "rude" after a 2013 interview at the CMAs. The Ringer explained that after Bones spoke with the "Rainbow" singer, he made some of the footage into a segment called "Is Kacey Musgraves Annoyed?" He only escalated the issue with his since-deleted tweet, "will @KaceyMusgraves ever respond to my tweets. Enter your answer now. A: yes, B: no."

However, Musgraves claimed that Bones played an edited version of their conversation. She tweeted back at him, stating (via The Ringer), "If you'd play our original interview in full and tell people how you unfairly re-edited it I might think about talking to you." Bones retorted, "dont honor me with 'think about talking to you'. like Im a peasant. you aren't any better of a human than anyone else." According to Got Country Online, the spat continued, and Musgraves responded with yet another (now-deleted) tweet directing fans to her original interview with Bones. "I am a songwriter and a musician. That's what I've been passionate about my entire life and it's really sad that the focus got taken away from that," she said.

Bones apologized to Musgraves in a video in March 2014. He stated, "I think we should patch it up. ... If I didn't put this out there, I think I would probably be a little angry at myself. So I'm swallowing my pride here."