There’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition among peers, but it’s never a good look when private rivalries spill over into full-scale public feuds. This goes double for the world of rock and roll, where those with giant egos with unfettered access to the press have a tendency to make themselves look just as bad as the targets of their animosity.
You’d be hard pressed to find two pop-culture figures at the turn of the millennium who wielded more influence than Limp Bizkit’s charismatic frontman Fred Durst and Creed’s hyper-pius singer Scott Stapp. With the former dominating the airwaves of MTV’s TRL and the nü-metal world and the latter holding sway over traditional hard rock radio, common sense would dictate that these guys had better things to do than engage in petty public squabbles.
Well, this is rock and roll. Common sense be damned.
The trouble started when both bands were scheduled to play the 2000 edition of New York radio station WXRK K-Rock’s annual Dysfunctional Family Picnic. Having already exhausted the goodwill of fans and festival management by taking the stage an hour after their scheduled set time, Durst exacerbated the bad vibes by takinging what seemed like an arbitrary jab at Creed during, saying: “I want to dedicate this next song to the lead singer of Creed. That guy is an egomaniac. He’s a fucking punk, and he’s backstage right now acting like fucking Michael Jackson. Fuck that motherfucker, and fuck you too… and if you want, there’s going to be a booth with pillows and blankets for when Creed comes on.”
For his part, Stapp didn’t take too kindly to Durst’s comments. The Creed frontman fired back during their set, saying: “It takes a lot more guts to say something to somebody to their face than from behind their backs.”
As Durst told MTV’s Total Request Live a few days later, although the two men did not exchange words the Creed camp did indeed respond to the provocations offstage; allegedly sending him an autographed anger management manual with an inscribed piece of scripture. The Limp Bizkit frontman further exacerbated the situation by telling hosts Brian McFayden and Carson Daly: “For one thing, the guy [Stapp] is out of his mind. He thinks he’s a better human than everybody, he claims all of this spirituality, this super killer guy… he doesn’t give a damn about any of his fans, he ignores everybody.” Durst continued, “He’s in these videos doing the Jesus Christ thing; he’s just like ‘hey man, I am bad ass…’”
Obviously, Stapp didn’t appreciate the TRL trashing. Creed’s management soon issued a statement outlining their side of events. It read: “We are extremely disappointed that Fred Durst has taken his personal feelings toward us public, considering we have never met or spoken to him. We are more disappointed that Fred is manipulating the media and the truth by using Creed as a scapegoat for his own immature and egotistical actions. Reports have falsely claimed that Fred was stuck in traffic, which caused the fans to wait an hour in the heat at K-Rock’s ‘Dysfunctional Family Picnic.’ In fact, Fred arrived and was very angry with the scheduled lineup due to the fact that Limp Bizkit was performing before nightfall and before Creed.
“He then refused to go on stage, causing management from K-Rock, Creed, Stone Temple Pilots, and Ozzy Osbourne to spend nearly an hour trying to figure out how to get Limp Bizkit to take the stage. Fred finally agreed to play only after he “finished his dinner,” having accomplished his obvious goal of delaying his set. We don’t appreciate Fred’s treatment of Creed, the other artists on the bill, K-Rock, the radio station that has supported Creed, the fans, nor do we appreciate his disregard for the truth. Furthermore, we don’t appreciate his lack of responsibility for his own actions, and his attempts to deflect blame with criticism of us and our fans.”
Stapp went on to offer up plans to stage a charity boxing match between the two frontmen, which Durst ignored at the time. The public pissing match might have ended here if not for a curveball courtesy of newcomers Taproot, who used a profanity-laced answering machine message from the Limp Bizkit singer (who had unsuccessfully courted the band for his Interscope imprint label, Flawless) as part of their press pack. As transcribed by Atlantic Records, Durst said: “Steve, Fred Durst. Hey, man, you fucked up. You don’t ever bite the hand that feeds in this business, bro. And your fucking manager so-called guy is a fucking idiot–a loser motherfucker going nowhere. You have just chosen that path.
“I took you under my wing, brought you to my house, fucking talked about your ass on radio, in press, and you embarrassed me and the Interscope family. Your association with Limp Bizkit does not exist. Your manager slings that name around, he’s gonna be blackballed and probably be erased, and you will too. He’s a fucking idiot. You’re gonna fucking learn from this time right here. I hope you let your band know that you just fucked yourself. You need to be associated with somebody in this business. You need something to get you out there, put you out there, and believe in. Now you got enemies, and you’re fucking yourself already. Tell your friend that.
“Don’t fucking show up at my show, cause, if you do, you’re gonna get fucked. Alright? You and your fucking punk ass, man. You call your fucking manager, David Manifestease–whatever ask him what he’s done and doing. You’re a fucking dumb motherfucker. You’re learning right now exactly how to ruin your career before it gets started. All of the luck, brother. Fuck you.”
While Durst largely avoided the subject of the phone call in the press, Creed seized on the moment of possible vulnerability. In another statement from management, the band said: “Until now, Creed hasn’t felt the need to defend itself against Fred Durst’s numerous on-air tirades, believing that his ongoing string of unsolicited negative opinions would eventually ruin any credibility that his band’s great music and hard work had earned him.
“Having heard his recent comments about Taproot and their manager, after they refused to sign to his Flawless/Interscope label, we feel that Fred has worn out his welcome as an artist spokesperson for our industry. Fred’s vulgar comments and violent threats are totally indicative of a mobster mentality that this industry has tried to rid itself of in recent years. If Fred wants to represent our industry as a major label senior vice president, then he should consider actually reading the anger management book that we sent to him or just return to being an artist that lets his music speak for itself.
As for Scott Stapp’s challenging Fred Durst to a boxing match, that challenge still stands. Our only request is that it be a paid event with the proceeds being donated to charity. It is our intention to take this negative ‘he said, she said’ situation and turn it into a positive one.”
Durst finally responded to the challenge, saying: “Creed should take a hint and spend more time signing autographs than writing about me.”
He continued, “The boxing match sounds like fun, but I’d rather not resort to violence, since I’m busy doing a free tour.”
Although the boxing match hasn’t materialized to date, with both bands experiencing a bit of a cultural renaissance in 2023 there are plenty of opportunities for renewed tensions. That being said, two decades worth of life experience since these initial barbs seem to have given both men some much needed perspective. If anything was to come to blows today, chances are it would be in the spirit of good-natured fun and charity.