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Romantic relationships (and their dissolution) have long served as some of the richest sources of inspiration and passion in music. Groups like ABBA and Fleetwood Mac were both fueled and eventually destroyed by the internal romantic relationships that inspired some of their greatest work. Although some couples, namely Jack and Meg White, are able to maintain their creative partnerships despite ending their romantic relationship, many beloved duos like Sonny and Cher aren’t able to overcome hurt feelings and instead part ways, leaving fans with only their beloved discographies for comfort.
Tammy Wynette and George Jones
Country music legends Tammy Wynette and George Jones first met while touring together in the late 1960s. Wynette’s second husband, Don Chapel, had been friendly with Jones since he’d recorded a song Chapel had written called “When The Grass Grows Over Me” in 1968.
Chapel and Wynette’s long standing marital struggles came to a head when Wynette and Jones confronted Chapel during an argument and confessed their feelings for one another, leaving Chapel’s home with Wynette and Chapel's’s three children. The country stars then flew to Mexico to secure Wnyette a divorce—though the marriage was later annulled due to how quickly she married Chapel following her divorce from her first husband, Euple Byrd.
Jones and Wynette’s relationship was marred by Jones’ heavy drinking, later becoming the primary catalyst to the couple’s eventual divorce in in 1975. Following the split, Wynette told E! News, “George is one of those people who can’t tolerate happiness. If everything is right, there’s something in him that makes him want to destroy it.”
Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson
Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson met in 1969 while competing in Melodifestivalen, a Swedish music competition to determine the nation’s representation at the annual Eurovision Song Contest. The pair moved in together in 1971, around the time they formed the pop supergroup ABBA with their friends Björn Ulvaeus and his wife, Agnetha Fältskog.
Lyngstad and Andersson eventually wed at the height of ABBA’s success in 1978, but the band’s massive success and public attention greatly affected both couples in the group, leading to both pairs eventually divorcing. Ulvaeus and Fältskog officially ended things in 1980, and Lyngstad and Andersson dissolved their marriage the next year. The divorces resulted in the group’s disbanding in 1982 before eventually reuniting for their best-selling comeback album Voyage in 2021.
John and Michelle Phillips
Alongside Cass Elliot and Dennis Doherty, married couple John and Michelle Phillips comprised the 1960s counterculture folk group The Mamas & the Papas. Utilizing vocal arrangements organized by John, the group became one of the best-selling musical acts of the 1960s, selling nearly 40 million records worldwide.
After it was revealed Michelle had engaged in extramarital affairs with both bandmate Dennis Doherty and Gene Clark of the Byrds, John had Michelle fired from the group in June 1966. Michelle was replaced with singer Jill Gibson until her membership in the group was reinstated in August of 1966.
Following years of internal turmoil, the group officially disbanded in early 1969, and John and Michelle obtained a divorce that May. After the dissolution of the group, Elliot, Doherty, and John embarked on solo careers to varying degrees of success while Michelle became an actor, making appearances on shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Knots Landing.
Meg and Jack White
In September 1998, Jack and Meg White wed in Detroit following years of dating with Jack Gillis taking Meg’s surname to become Jack White. Shortly after tying the knot, the couple started the rock act the White Stripes, initially presenting themselves as a brother-sister duo as opposed to a married couple.
Shortly after the White Stripes released their debut album, Jack and Meg divorced in March 2000. Despite their split, the duo continued making music together, releasing six albums before officially disbanding in 2011.
Although Jack has embarked on a solo career and performed with several other groups in the years since the White Stripes’ ending, Meg has largely retreated from the public eye and has seemingly left the music industry entirely. Despite the pair’s breakup, when Meg’s drumming skills were called into question, both Jack and his ex-wife Karen Elson quickly came to Meg’s defense.
Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore
Shortly after moving to New York City in 1980, singer Kim Gordon met guitarist Thurston Moore. The pair began performing together in New York’s underground music scene using names like Red Milk and the Arcadians before finally landing on Sonic Youth. After cultivating a devoted following throughout the ’80s, Sonic Youth skyrocketed to massive mainstream success following the release of their sixth studio album Goo in 1990.
The trailblazing noise rock group released 15 studio albums and seven extended plays together before finally breaking up in 2011 after Gordon and Moore announced they were ending their marriage after nearly 30 years together. Despite Gordon stating in her 2015 autobiography she believed the group to be through for good, Moore has said the possibility of a Sonic Youth reunion remains a possibility.
Ike and Tina Turner
Ike Turner met Anna Mae Bullock—the future Tina Turner—in 1956 at a nightclub in East St. Louis, Illinois. Shortly thereafter, Tina began dating Raymond Hill, the saxophonist in Ike’s band, though she remained close friends with Ike before their relationship turned romantic in 1960.
Following the birth of their son Ronnie in 1960, the pair wed in Tijuana in 1962 despite Ike still legally being married to his ex-wife Alice Bell. Following a physical altercation in 1976, Tina filed for divorce from Ike, stating he’d been both physically and emotionally abusive throughout their marriage, which Ike later admitted to.
Ike married three more times following his split from Tina (for a total of 14 marriages throughout his lifetime) before passing away following a cocaine overdose in 2007. Tina later began a relationship with German music executive Erwin Bach in the late 1980s after meeting through her record label. The couple married in Switzerland in July 2013 and remained together until Tina’s death in 2023.
Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher
Singin’ in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955 after meeting Fisher overseas while they were performing for American troops in the Korean War. Together, the couple had two children, actor Carrie Fisher and director Todd Fisher.
Reynolds and Eddie divorced in 1959 when it was revealed he had been engaging in an extramarital affair with Reynolds’ friend, actor Elizabeth Taylor, beginning shortly after the passing of Taylor’s husband Mike Todd.
Following Taylor’s affair with her Cleopatra costar Richard Burton, Fisher and Taylor divorced after just two years together. Taylor and Reynolds later reconciled, co-starring in the made-for-TV movie These Old Broads and sharing a scene together lampooning their shared ex-husband.
Sonny and Cher
Sonny Bono and Cher, a seemingly unstoppable pop duo, met in a Los Angeles coffee shop in autumn 1962. Although they’d initially felt no romantic attraction toward one another, the pair’s relationship eventually evolved, and they “wed” in an unofficial ceremony in 1964. Only after the couple’s only child, Chaz Bono, was born did the pair legally tie the knot.
After the musical duo weathered career difficulties throughout the mid to late 1960s, they made the jump to television and debuted The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour in 1971. By the show’s third season, the couple’s relationship began to unravel, and Cher filed for divorce from Bono citing “involuntary servitude” and accusing Bono of withholding her share of the pair’s earnings.
The couple’s divorce was finalized in 1975, though they remained friendly and reunited for a television appearance together in 1976.
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