Journey have fired drummer Steve Smith and bassist Ross Valory, accusing them of attempting an "ill-conceived corporate coup d'état" to gain control of the band's name.
According to court documents filed in the Superior Court of Contra Costa County, California on behalf of guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain, Valory and Smith attempted to take control of Nightmare Productions, one of the band's business entities they "incorrectly [believed] had rights" to the band name. They are seeking damages in excess of $10 million.
The lawsuit filed yesterday by Miller Barondess, LLP, claims that "in 1998, Schon, Cain and [former singer Steve] Perry entered into a written agreement providing Schon and Cain the sole, exclusive, irrevocable right to control the Journey Mark, including the Journey name. They are, therefore, authorized to perform together as Journey, with or without anyone else."
The lawsuit states, "In 1998, Schon, Cain and [former singer Steve] Perry entered into a written agreement providing Schon and Cain the sole, exclusive, irrevocable right to control the Journey Mark, including the Journey name. They are, therefore, authorised to perform together as Journey, with or without anyone else.
"Defendants Smith and Valory were members of Journey at various times during the band’s history. Collectively, they only have a very few song credits on Journey albums. Nevertheless, they were compensated generously for many years.
"Recently, however, defendants attempted to launch an ill-conceived corporate coup d'état to assume control of Nightmare Productions because they incorrectly believe that Nightmare Productions controls the Journey name and Mark.
"They hope that, by taking over Nightmare Productions, they can hold the Journey name hostage and set themselves up with a guaranteed income stream after they stop performing. Smith and Valory began their campaign to take control of Nightmare Productions in December 2019 by conspiring to oust Schon and Cain from control."
The claim adds, "With their actions, Smith and Valory have destroyed the chemistry, cohesion and rapport necessary for the band to play together. Journey can only tour successfully and succeed creatively if it is united and the band members trust one another. The actions taken by Smith and Valory shattered that trust.
"As a result, Schon and Cain removed Smith and Valory from Journey. By letter dated March 3, 2020, Schon and Cain provided notice to Smith and Valory that they are no longer members of Journey; and that Schon and Cain have lost confidence in both of them and are not willing to perform with them again."
Smith and Valory have yet to comment on these allegations.
In the meantime, Journey will proceed by replacing Smith and Valory "with top musicians" to support "essential members" Schon, Cain and Arnel Pineda. Journey are scheduled to kick off a summer tour with the Pretenders in May.