Musicians and politicians make awkward bedfellows — after all, rock stars need something to rebel against, right? As long as there have been presidential candidates using popular songs in their campaigns, there have been strongly worded statements and legal disputes from artists who feel their life’s work is being manipulated for political gain.
But Donald Trump‘s 2016 run exponentially amplified the divide between those two camps. Musicians from every genre — even country, a genre traditionally viewed as conservative — have spoken out against the Republican’s policies and character. Classic rock artists are no exception.
Paul McCartney once said that Trump “unleashed the ugly side of America.” U2‘s Bono called Trump “potentially the worst idea that ever happened to America.” Roger Waters labeled him “a philistine,” “deeply insensitive” and “a glutton for his own self-love.” Bruce Springsteen described him as “deeply damaged” and “dangerous.” David Crosby, outspoken about his progressive beliefs on Twitter, routinely criticizes the president both on and off stage. “If you’re a Trump dummy … don’t come to my show, asshole,” he wrote in 2017 after a fan complained that he brought up politics during a gig.
And some rock artists have adjacent grievances, like the Trump campaign using their songs without permission at rallies and other events. (There’s been much debate about the actual legalities of such use.) That list, which seems to grow with each passing month, includes Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Guns N’ Roses, Elton John and R.E.M., among many others. We look back at some of the most notable examples. Check out our roundup below.