Two Longtime Journey Members Fired Amid Lawsuit
Classic rock act Journey have fired two members of the band amid legal wranglings between the group and the exiting pair. Bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith, let go Tuesday (March 3), have been accused of attempting a corporate coup d'état against the outfit led by guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain.
That's because Valory and Smith reportedly tried to gain control of Journey's name and trademark behind the backs of Schon and Cain, according to court documents reviewed by Ultimate Classic Rock. Schon and Cain have a 1998 written agreement with former Journey singer Steve Perry that grants them those rights.
But that didn't stop Valory and Smith from "sowing discord among the band members by engaging in self-dealing and selfishly putting their interest ahead of the band's," as Schon and Cain claim in the complaint filed this week in California Superior Court, which Businesswire pointed out. Per the documents, the two former members tried to gain control of Nightmare Productions, Inc., one of the band's corporate entities. The pair reportedly believed this would give them the sole authority of the Journey brand.
Per the filing, Valory and Smith began their "campaign to take control of Nightmare Productions in December 2019 by conspiring to oust Schon and Cain from control." The former members reportedly hoped to "hold the Journey name hostage and set themselves up with a guaranteed income stream after they stop performing."
In response, Schon and Cain sent the two musicians their separate ways. "Defendants Smith and Valory were members of Journey at various times during the band's history," the complaint adds. "Collectively, they only have a very few song credits on Journey albums. Nevertheless, they were compensated generously for many years."
Along with ousting the longtime rhythm section, Journey — who currently count Arnel Pineda as their lead singer — are seeking damages above $10 million against the former members.
Former Santana member Schon first formed Journey with the group's original members, including Valory, in 1973. Smith initially joined the band in 1978. Journey recruited Cain in 1980. The group officially split between 1987 until 1995, with the exception of a brief reunion in 1991.
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