Ross Valory Countersues Bandmates as Journey Split Widens
Ross Valory has countersued Journey bandmates Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain, charging them with breach of contract and emotional distress. He's seeking "past and future compensatory damages," while also asking a judge to decide who has the right to move forward under the band name.
Valory's cross complaint, filed on April 6 in California's Contra Costa County Superior Court, refutes "outrageous" claims from an earlier lawsuit in which Schon and Cain accused Valory and Journey drummer Steve Smith of attempting a "coup" to take over the band.
"Ross is shocked and devastated by the conduct of his lifelong bandmates," attorney Andrew Spielberger told Business Wire, "and is disappointed that there was never any attempt to sit down and discuss what is most likely a misunderstanding and something that easily could have been worked out."
Valory has appeared on every Journey album, save for 1986's Raised on Radio. He co-wrote more than a dozen Journey songs, including '70s-era radio favorites "Anytime" and "Just the Same Way," while taking over lead vocals on "Gone Crazy" from 2005's Generations.
This new 75-page legal action consistently disputes the idea that Valory and Smith were trying to assume control of Nightmare Productions Inc., the corporate entity that controls the band's name and trademark, calling the whole thing a "deceptive, misleading and false premise." Instead, Valory said the board was trying to protect the Journey brand after Schon made an effort to obtain a similar mark for his Journey Through Time offshoot group.
"There is undisputed evidence that [Schon] was the one member of Journey who actively engaged in conduct of applying for the mark that injured the value of the Journey mark owned by Nightmare Productions Inc.," Valory's lawsuit alleges.
Attached legal documents include Nightmare Productions' official dispute before the U.S. Trademark Office's trial and appeal board, which argues that Journey Through Time is "substantially and confusingly similar" to Journey's original mark. The board argued against approval because it would "cause consumer confusion, mistake and/or deceit."
That trademark document is dated March 3, the very same day as Schon and Cain's original legal action. Their lawsuit arrived with news that Valory and Smith had both been fired, an action the bassist also disputes.
Valory said he remains a member of the board of Nightmare Productions, despite what he deems a "reckless disregard for the truth." His rights are "not terminated merely because [Schon and Cain] improperly claim that they have fired [Valory] from playing bass in the band Journey," the cross complaint argues. Valory said he was "merely participating in a legitimate vote to change the number of directors of Nightmare Productions Inc."
Schon and Cain's suit alleged that the band's bassist and drummer were attempting to shift the board's power base in order to rubber stamp a plan for Valory and Smith to retire from the road but still be paid. Valory said other members of the board – including founding Journey manager Herbie Herbert and longtime ex-singer Steve Perry – were unlikely to agree with any such scheme.
"There is no reason for [Herbert and Perry] to vote to give Ross Valory and Steve Smith a guaranteed income stream from Journey after [Valory and Smith] stop performing," the lawsuit notes. Instead, Valory claimed Schon is using his initial suit "as a diversion away from his own wrongful conduct."
There's a huge pile of cash in between the warring parties. Valory's complaint reports that revenue projections for Journey's already-announced 2020 tour were placed at some $50 million – and Valory said Schon and Cain's attempt at firing him was meant to allow them to claim his share. The suit makes clear that Valory doesn't believe current singer Arnel Pineda was "in on the money grab."
Journey currently "split the revenues from tours or corporate performances on a 1/5 basis to each performer," the cross complaint reports, whereas "Schon and Cain could split the excised portions 50/50" with the band's rhythm section out of the picture.
"Ross feels horrible about this whole unnecessary ordeal," Spielberger added. "But he is a fighter and he has hired able counsel to defend and fight for his rights. I expect he will be vindicated and justice will prevail."
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