Rihanna and Chris, You Are Not Alone: Troubled Musical Couples

04/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Now that Oprah has said her piece, it's my turn to weigh in on this whole Chris Brown/Rihanna thing. There are too many sad stories of tortured, codependent celebrity relationships. Two people whose accomplishments -- however credible or not -- are completely overshadowed by their crazy, dysfunctional relationships. You look at them, and all you see is the baggage of their personal drama. This is not a part of music history that Chris and Rihanna want to join.

I don't claim to be a fan of their music, but I am a fan of peace. Folks deserve to live in peace and stability, especially in their own home. Life is short, and all of these decisions add up. We need to be making good ones: in our own lives and toward each other. Dudes need to keep their hands to themselves, stand up, and act like men. Chicks need to cut the drama, realize their full power, and use it. Wisely.

I'm glad Chris and Rihanna are taking some time to chill out and grow up. Apart. And while they're getting their heads on straight, here's a list of troubled relationships for them to study. Like I said, history is filled with couples who sold themselves short and kept each other down. Let's get back to making music that lifts us up.

Sermon over. Now I'll pass the collection plate.

GALLERY: See all the tortured musical couples

The most tragic of all the troubled rock relationships, theirs was a "Romeo and Juliet" epic played out in an alternate, drug-fueled punk universe. Nancy Spungen was a groupie who moved to London to follow the burgeoning punk scene. When Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten showed no interest, she went after Sid Vicious, the doomed bassist. Together, they quickly spiraled into every abuse imaginable. Nancy was found stabbed to death in New York's Hotel Chelsea. Sid was arrested for her murder but died of an OD before he could go to trial. They were 20 and 21 years old.

The Nirvana mastermind and his wife, Courtney Love, were the John & Yoko of their day. People certainly hated Love as much as '60s Beatles fans reviled Ono. Regardless of whether she was as sinister as portrayed, the two were mutually self-destructive. Love stated that their early courtship consisted of "bonding over pharmaceuticals." They had a baby and ruled as the grunge king and queen. Then Kurt shot himself dead. Courtney has carried on her tortured freak show ever since.


Before Tina Turner was the '80s comeback queen with "What's Love Got to Do With It," she was one half of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Tina was discovered by Ike, who recorded what many consider to be the first rock 'n' roll song, "Rocket 88." Many people who care about Rihanna point to the Turners' marriage as the cautionary tale of a relationship with years of physical abuse hidden from the public. Thankfully, Tina busted loose and after a long stretch playing lounge gigs in obscurity, bounced back. Ike Turner, meanwhile, died of a cocaine overdose in 2007.

To many, John Lennon and Yoko Ono's relationship typifies the ultimate in codependency. To others, it's the best rock 'n' roll love story of all. However, no one can dispute that the two had their share of ups and downs, including John's famed "Lost Weekend": an 18-month binge in L.A. with Yoko's personal assistant, May Pang. Once he returned home, he never left her side. Some wish he could have at least left her out of the studio when he recorded "Double Fantasy." Admit it, you skip over the Yoko songs too.

Another lesson in codependency. Sharon Osbourne worked for her dad, Don Arden, who was Black Sabbath's manager. Like Sharon, her dad had a reputation for being less-than-charitable toward people with whom he disagreed. Sharon took over as Ozzy's manager when he was booted from Sabbath in '79. When your wife is your manager, many things can happen, but one thing is for certain: your wife is your manager. And if that manager is Sharon Osbourne, and you're a semi-fried, former addict named Ozzy? Well, let's just say we know who wears the bigger crucifix.

Amy Winehouse has more trouble as an individual than any relationship could bring her. However, her marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil (an elementary school dropout who worked as a video production assistant) comes pretty close. They got hitched in 2007, and Amy spent the next year beating on him, then confessing her love for him while torturing mice on YouTube, and then ultimately filing for divorce after he went to jail. That's a whole lotta messed-up love.

Before she tortured Guy Ritchie, the Material Girl spent three years married to Sean Penn. The couple was not exactly the model of calm. Their brief union was marked by paparazzi punch-outs, public tantrums, and their teaming up on the worst film of all time, Shanghai Surprise. In fact, the movie was probably the most troubled aspect of that troubled relationship.