‘They’re ***holes’: Why Howard Stern Really Hates Tool

Maynard James Keenan: Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images. Howard Stern: Bill Norton, Picasa, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.
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They don’t call Howard Stern “the King of All Media” for nothing. 

Concurrently with his ascent towards becoming the greatest radio personality of all time, he conquered the pay-per-view airwaves and home video market, ran for public office, and had two of his books enter the New York Times Best Seller list at number one.

A man of pure wit, intellect, ambition, and drive, Stern can make for a powerful ally or a formidable enemy. He doesn’t let go of a grudge easily.

If anyone knows about the intensity of a Howard Stern grudge, though, it’s Tool.

The feud stems from a miscommunication between Stern and the band’s former label, Zoo Entertainment. In a handshake deal, Zoo promised to license Tool’s then-unreleased cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” to the radio host for use on the soundtrack of Private Parts, the film based on his autobiography of the same name. 

Reasonable as it sounds, the label failed to get Tool’s explicit permission before promising the song to Stern. As it would turn out, the band operated under a strict self-imposed “no soundtrack” policy. Although Tool were fans of Stern, the band forced Zoo to rescind the approval.

Assuming this was a tactic to drive up the price for the license, Stern offered the band significantly more money, who begrudgingly turned him down. The absence of the track left an 11 minute void on the Private Parts soundtrack.

Unsurprisingly, Howard Stern does not respond lightly to rejection or inconvenience. Speaking to Rock Flash magazine in 1997, Stern declared “Fuck Tool and fuck Zoo. I don’t care if you print that. They’re assholes.” A day later, the radio host ordered his producer to remove all of Tool’s music from the show’s on-air lead-ins.

Years later, Stern rejected a request from Maynard James Keenan to come on the show in order to promote A Perfect Circle. The frontman told Metal Edge Magazine in 2007 that Stern was insistent about keeping him off the show, saying: 

“Howard Stern has been keeping me out of his studio for years. I’m not even in New York and he’s talking about how I’m in the lobby wanting to come up to talk to him, and he says ‘get that guy out of here’ and here I am, in LA.”

The feud continues to this day. Upon the release of Tool’s Fear Inoculum, the radio host spoke about enjoying the album. However, when Maynard expressed dismay at Justin Beiber’s fanship of the band on Twitter, Stern had strong words. According to a description of the episode courtesy of MarksFriggin.com “Howard said Bieber should fire back at them and say that they’d be lucky to mow his lawn.”

You have to admire the man’s tenacity.

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