10 Albums Which Almost Destroyed Their Creators

Affairs, deaths, law suits and spiralling budgets - these albums nearly destroyed their creators.

Fleetwood mac rumours
Warner Records

It's long been a myth in popular music that creative tensions often lead to high points in a band's career. While that might not be universally true, there are certainly notable instances of artists who managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, somehow overcoming tortuous circumstances to produce music of lasting quality.

From disintegrating relationships, infidelity and twisted mind-games to unbridled excess, psychological burn-out and damaging law-suits, each of the records presented below pushed their creators to the very limit. The stories behind some, such as the much-anticipated, years-in-the-making, Chinese Democracy, by Guns N' Roses, may be known to you. Others, including post-punk band Slint's frenzied, four-day catharsis, might be new.

Whatever the case, each of the ten albums presented below come complete with a fascinating genesis, proving that disharmony within a band does not necessarily result in disharmony in the studio.

None of these records were a joy to make, though all of them are well worthy of your time.

10. Gaucho - Steely Dan

Critically-acclaimed purveyors of high-quality, jazz-inflected, cerebral pop, Steely Dan had, by the time of Gaucho's release (1980) followed The Beatles in becoming a studio-only outfit. From 1974 onwards, founding members Walter Becker (guitars, bass) and Donald Fagen (keyboards, vocals) employed a rotating line-up of session musicians to realise their sound. Famously (or infamously) regarded as perfectionists, the duo faced their sternest challenge with the recording of this album.

Plagued by drug addictions, Becker's contributions were further strained thanks to a serious accident – the guitarist was hit by a car, resulting in multiple fractures and a lengthy rehabilitation, made worse by secondary infections. Then, Becker's girlfriend, Karen Stanley, died of a drug overdose while at the star's home. Stanley's family subsequently sued Becker over her death, ultimately losing the case but putting everyone involved through a tortuous process.

Beset by additional legal problems, and with an ever-worsening relationship between Becker and Fagen, by the time of Gaucho's completion, some 40 musicians had been employed to work on the album. Gaucho proved a critical success, winning a Grammy, but the two musicians would not work together again for over a decade.


Chris Wheatley is a journalist and writer from Oxford, UK. He has too many records, too many guitars and not enough cats.