According to Christa Titus of Billboard.com, a Washington state judge ruled on Friday (October 19) that singer Geoff Tate — who was fired from the Seattle progressive rock band QUEENSRŸCHE after fronting it for three decades — may tour with his own version of the group until a lawsuit he filed against three former bandmates is settled.
Guitarist Michael Wilton, drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson requested a motion for partial summary judgment September 21 to stop Tate from using the QUEENSRŸCHE name and associated imagery as the case proceeds to trial.
“QUEENSRŸCHE is disappointed in the denial of the motion to prevent our former vocalist from using our name, but we respect the court’s decision to do so. That said, we apologize for any confusion to our fans that a second entity sharing our name may cause,” Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson said in a statement to Billboard.com. “We look forward to seeing all of you on the road and bringing you new QUEENSRŸCHE music in the near future. Thank you all for your continued support, and for now we will just have to let the rocking do the talking.”
Wilton, Jackson, Rockenfield and Parker Lundgren (guitar) announced on June 20 that they were parting ways with Geoff Tate and recruiting Todd La Torre of CRIMSON GLORY as his replacement. The new QUEENSRŸCHE lineup previously played two shows in their home city of Seattle under the name RISING WEST.
Tate, who still owns his 25% stake in the QUEENSRŸCHE corporations, claims he was illegally fired from the band because of “blind greed” masked as “creative differences,” and that his former bandmates’ attempt to carry on as QUEENSRŸCHE with a new singer will “lead to the destruction of the QUEENSRŸCHE name and brand … by failing to maintain the level of professionalism and interaction with media and the fan base as compared to Tate’s efforts during the past 30 years.” He and and his wife, Susan, QUEENSRŸCHE’s former manager, want the judge to award them the rights to the band’s name in exchange for Tate paying Jackson, Wilton and Rockenfield the fair market value for their interests in the QUEENSRŸCHE companies. Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson filed a countersuit against the Tates in which they accused Geoff of creative obstruction and violent behavior, and Susan Tate of questionable business practices.
In their motion for partial summary judgment, Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson disputed Tate’s claim he had a reasonable expectation to remain in QUEENSRŸCHE forever, explaining that the fact that “he engaged in a fully admitted assault on his bandmates at a Sao Paulo, Brazil performance [in April 2012 served] as fully reasonable grounds for terminating him as lead singer.”
If the case goes to trial, the date is set for November 18, 2013.
On September 2, Tate announced that he was launching his own version of QUEENSRŸCHE with RATT drummer Bobby Blotzer, former QUIET RIOT, OZZY OSBOURNE and WHITESNAKE bassist Rudy Sarzo and former MEGADETH and KING DIAMOND guitarist Glen Drover. Also on board in the new group are returning QUEENSRŸCHE guitarist Kelly Gray — who played with the band from 1998 until 2001 and also produced several of their albums — and keyboardist Randy Gane, who has toured and recorded with QUEENSRŸCHE and Geoff’s solo group in the past.
In a recent interview with TheMetalCircus.com, Geoff Tate stated about his split with his former bandmates, “It’s ridiculous and really bad business to take a very successful band, like QUEENSRŸCHE, for example, that’s been very successful for 30 years, and tear the whole thing apart and tarnish the name and devalue the brand name and then try to proceed. It makes no business sense at all. Especially at the age that all of us are. I mean, realistically, we have probably less than ten years of productive work ahead of us. So why on earth would you take something very successful, something that works very well, and destroy it? It makes no sense at all. It’s greed, really. They wanted to make more money. And so they’ve been very busy about justifying all of their actions by putting out all this information that, oh, I can’t sing anymore, I don’t wanna sing heavy metal, I don’t wanna sing the old material — paint this picture to justify their actions.”
He added, “My version of QUEENSRŸCHE has had no problem getting shows. In fact, I’m getting guarantees that are equal to what QUEENSRŸCHE was getting before. So where I’m getting an equal amount of money for my show, they are not — they are getting very little money for their shows. In fact, I don’t believe they’re gonna be even able to tour. They might be able to go out and do a weekend show here and weekend show there, but they can’t get enough money to support doing an entire tour. So it’s very tragic that they’ve done this, and very disappointing and very hurtful, to me, and to the fans, that they’ve been motivated by greed and jealousy to pursue this. And I wish them the best of luck, ’cause they’re gonna need it. It’s a very tough market out there.”
Asked if he thinks the other guys’ decision to kick him out of the band will backfire at some point, Geoff said, “Oh, it’s already backfired. They’re hurting pretty badly financially. In fact, they’re calling my attorneys daily begging to come to some sort of mediation, because they’re realizing now that they can’t make a living doing what they’re doing. They can get on the Internet all day and say what a bad person I am and spread all these lies about my inabilities or my dominating them and all this, and that’s all very well and good, but it doesn’t pay the bills. They’ve actually got to produce something — they’ve gotta make a record and they’ve gotta tour. And they can’t financially tour, ’cause nobody wants them. I mean, first off, the people that are talking in support of them are a very small number of QUEENSRŸCHE fans, a very small segment of the big pie, so to speak. And also, Michael, I know, and Scott both have multiple Internet accounts and they go online and pose as different people and they go on Facebook and all these different social medias and they are on a smear campaign of trying to create a public opinion in a negative way for me. And it’s backfiring on them now. I think people are getting tired of reading all this negative stuff. And any smart person, any person with any kind of intelligence, can just look at what they’re saying and see that it’s riddled with inaccuracies, exaggerations and downright lies. Saying that I don’t sing the old material is a direct lie. I mean, you can look on the Internet and see the setlists from different shows. So any smart person can do that.”