Journey Fire Drummer Steve Smith and Bassist Ross Valory
The two allegedly attempted a "corporate coup d'état" against their bandmates
Published Mar 04, 2020Journey have fired drummer Steve Smith and bassist Ross Valory in the wake of principal members Neal Schon and Jon Cain filing a lawsuit against them.
News of the firing was revealed in a press release from Los Angeles-based law firm Miller Barondess, LLP. According to the release, the suit was filed after the two ousted members "attempted to launch an ill-conceived corporate coup d'état" to gain control of one of the band's corporate entities, Nightmare Productions, Inc.
The suit accuses Smith and Valory of "sowing discord among the band members by engaging in self-dealing and selfishly putting their interests ahead of the band's," and "seeks to enjoin a scheme by defendants to possess the rights to the Journey name and be paid without actually performing."
In 1998, Schon, Cain and ex-vocalist Steve Perry entered a written agreement that would provide Schon and Cain the "sole, exclusive, irrevocable right to control the Journey Mark, including the Journey name," allowing them to "perform together as Journey, with or without anyone else."
The suit alleges that Smith and Valory sought to control Nightmare Productions because they "incorrectly believe" the entity controls the Journey name and mark, and 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."
The press release outlines that "Smith and Valory began their campaign to take control of Nightmare Productions in December 2019 by conspiring to oust Schon and Cain from control," explaining that "their campaign culminated on February 13, 2020, when Smith and Valory held improper shareholder and Board of Directors meetings of Nightmare Productions."
These meetings reportedly saw "the defendants and their allies [vote] to give Smith and Valory control of the Board, removing Cain as President and [replace] him with Smith, and [remove] Schon as Secretary and replacing him with Valory."
Through Smith and Valory's use of Nightmare Productions "as a tool to destroy the fabric of the band," the pair effectively "destroyed the chemistry, cohesion and rapport necessary for the band to play together."
The press release notes that "Journey will continue on with Schon, Cain, long-time vocalist Arnel Pineda with a new rhythm section undertaking a sixty plus city tour of North America in May. Journey will announce their new bassist and drummer imminently."
Schon and Cain's lead counsel, Skip Miller, said in a statement: "This is not an action that Neal and Jon wanted to bring against two men that they once considered their brothers, but the devious and truculent behavior of Steve and Ross left them reluctantly with no choice but to act decisively. Journey will continue on with great success by ridding the band of disruptive members and replacing them with top musicians; and most importantly, by keeping its essential members — Schon, Cain and Pineda — fully intact."
Schon is Journey's last remaining original member, while Cain has been with the group since 1980. Their lawsuit also seeks compensatory damages in excess of $10 million USD. Find the press release and court documents here.
Journey's last album was 2011's Eclipse. In 2018, it was reported that Jon M. Chu was helming a biopic about vocalist Arnel Pineda.