Journey Reaches Settlement on Alleged Coup D’état

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The members of Journey have settled a fractious split that had resulted in a lawsuit that one side had described as a “corporate coup d’état.” An announcement today (April 1, 2021) by the band’s management company said that the various members have “resolved their differences.”

The statement followed the news on March 3, 2020, when founding member Neal Schon and longtime member, Jonathan Cain, filed a lawsuit following what they described as “an attempted corporate coup d’état” by founding member, Ross Valory, and longtime member, Steve Smith.

From the March 2020 announcement: The Complaint, filed by Miller Barondess, LLP in California Superior Court, accuses defendants 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. The lawsuit seeks to enjoin a scheme by defendants to possess the rights to the Journey name and be paid without actually performing, and also seeks damages in excess of $10 million. Given the circumstances Schon and Cain were left with no alternative but to take decisive action for themselves and Journey’s fans.

The April 1, 2021 statement from Q Prime, Journey’s management company, indicated that the parties had resolved their differences.

Happier times: Members of Journey backstage at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, NY, following their Rock Hall induction, April 7, 2017. Steve Smith and Ross Valory are at far L. Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain are at far R

“The members of the band Journey who were parties to a recent lawsuit (Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Steve Smith and Ross Valory) are pleased to announce that they have resolved their differences and reached an amicable settlement agreement. Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain acknowledge the valuable contributions that both Ross Valory and Steve Smith have made to the music and the legacy of Journey. Ross Valory and Steve Smith wish their former bandmates well and much success in the future. Journey looks forward to continuing to tour and make new music for their dedicated fans around the world.”

On May 23, 2020, Journey announced its new lineup and it includes the return of their former member, Randy Jackson. The bass guitarist, who briefly served in the band in the mid-1980s, is best known as a longtime judge on American Idol. In a bit of irony, Jackson again replaces founding member, Valory. When Jackson joined Journey the first time, he replaced Valory when the latter was fired once before, and performed on the group’s big 1986 album, Raised on Radio.

Also joining Journey on drums is Narada Michael Walden, best known as a producer and songwriter for such stars as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Steve Winwood, and Starship, among many others.

Jason Derlatka also joined as an additional keyboardist.

The announcement was revealed during a fundraiser for UNICEF.

Watch the new lineup perform “Don’t Stop Believin'”

Journey, formed in 1973, is one of the most successful rock bands of all time, with ten platinum albums, eighteen Top 40 singles, and over 75 million albums sold worldwide.

Schon, the only remaining founding member, who has played at every performance since the inception of Journey, along with Cain and former lead singer Steve Perry, formed the core of Journey and were responsible for the band’s rise to prominence in the 1980’s. Together, they wrote several of the most well-known rock songs in the world—including “Don’t Stop Believin,” the second most downloaded song of all time.

In 1985, Nightmare Productions, Inc., one of the band’s corporate entities, provided an exclusive, irrevocable license of the Journey Mark to Schon, Cain and Perry. Under the Trademark License Agreement, the license continues “until the date upon which none of Stephen Perry, Neal Joseph Schon, or Jonathan Cain is actively engaged in a professional music career utilizing the name “‘JOURNEY.’”

After Perry left the band in 1997, Schon and Cain continued to perform as Journey.

In 1998, Schon, Cain and 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 2020 announcement noted: Defendants Smith and Valory 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.

As detailed in the Complaint, their campaign culminated on Feb. 13, 2020, when Smith and Valory held improper shareholder and Board of Directors meetings of Nightmare Productions. During those meetings, the defendants and their allies voted to give Smith and Valory control of the Board, removing Cain as President and replacing him with Smith, and removing Schon as Secretary and replacing him with Valory.

With control of Nightmare Productions, per the Complaint, Smith and Valory incorrectly believe they can seize control of the Journey name and force Schon, Cain and Nightmare Productions to provide them with wind-fall payments after their retirement; they want to be paid a share of Journey touring revenue in perpetuity under the guise of a licensing fee while they perform absolutely no work for the band.

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.

Both Valory and Smith were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 with their Journey bandmates. Longtime fans will recall that the pair went their, er, separate ways from the band in the mid-80s. They subsequently returned for a second tenure, beginning in 1995.

Journey will continue on with Schon, Cain, long-time vocalist Arnel Pineda, and the three new members. They were expected to begin a 60+ city tour of North America, with Pretenders opening, in May 2020 but, like so many other tours, it was canceled due to the pandemic.

When they return to the stage, tickets are available here.

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

The band’s last performance with Valory and Smith was on New Year’s Eve at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

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6 Comments so far

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  1. Da Mick
    #1 Da Mick 25 May, 2020, 18:24

    Journey has pretty much been an anarchy ever since they forced Greg Rolie out. Despite appearances (and the name), it’s not really what you’d call a band.

    Reply this comment
    • mobydive
      mobydive 5 April, 2021, 15:12

      Rolie chose to leave Journey and has consistently blamed burn out for his exit. However Perry’s pipes and vocal dominance played a role as well, considering the bands increasing success and fortune. It’s a business (whether we like it or not). The album DEPARTURE (Rolie’s last efforts with Journey) sold 3.8 million discs, compared to the first album without Rolie – ESCAPE selling 29.4 million more.
      The ESCAPE Concert tickets sales followed with roughly 980,000,000 worldwide purchased. The prior Journey fusion sound catered to demanding tastes of the few and far between, causing other founding bandmates to get restless, like drummer Aynsley Dunbar was noted to have started playing erratically during tours and talking derogatorily about the other members of Journey. Rolie just didn’t have the fuel to keep up with his young protege and guitar prodigy Schon launching into the stratosphere. Anarchy is too strong a word for Journey’s continuing popularity 48 years after Rolie helped form the group. His exit (or escape) was the next phase for Journey to look into the future. Its metamorphosis and trial by fire helped its continual evolution. Only possible with a departure from its past. Journey has trail-blazed through the frontiers, passed the test of time and frankly is on it’s way into infinity.

      Reply this comment
      • Greg Brodsky
        Greg Brodsky 5 April, 2021, 20:47

        Mobydive, lots of good info but some of your figures are either off or deceptive. Physical copies of Escape during its initial lifespan were significant with the majority were confined to North America… perhaps 12 million worldwide in all, which is certainly noteworthy. That number more than doubled decades later once streaming was factored in, thanks in large part to “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

        Your tour figures, though, are perhaps overstated by 1000-fold. The world’s entire population in 1982 was roughly 4.5 billion. Journey did not sell nearly 1 billion tickets on that tour. It was likely more like 1 million… again, nothing to sneeze at.

        Reply this comment
  2. MO
    #2 MO 2 April, 2021, 00:08

    I remember watching them during intermission and the Center Theater(Fremont, Ca.) before they were famous for bubble gum music. Back to the Future is the best album they ever did in my humble opinion.

    Reply this comment
  3. Jack11
    #3 Jack11 2 April, 2021, 00:37

    Journey, America’s Number 1 Journey tribute band.

    Reply this comment
  4. Janet
    #4 Janet 7 April, 2021, 02:49

    It was Steve Perry who made the band number one but since he left the group, it has been all down hill. When have you the radio heard Arniel Pineda voice on the radio?

    Reply this comment

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