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Celebrity Slam - Incredible Journey

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Full disclosure: we love us some celebrity conflict here at the Slam.

Obviously, we’re not looking for people to get genuinely hurt or anything like that. But beef is good for business in this space and we’re not ashamed to say so. Sure, we have some fun with romances and famous couple portmanteaux and all that jazz, but beef is our bread and butter.

And while we love a good Twitter beef between seemingly unconnected celebs (the absurdity factor is through the roof), it’s tough to do better that watching things blow up between people who have known (and loathed) one another for a long time.

With that – let’s talk about Journey.

Specifically, let’s talk about how last week, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain kicked bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith out of the band, accusing the rhythm section of attempting – and we quote – an “ill-advised corporate coup d’etat” in an effort to take control of the band’s name.

Schon and Cain filed suit in court, claiming that Valory and Smith surreptitiously tried to gain control of a band business entity called Nightmare Productions. Apparently, the two now-ex-Journeymen believed that that entity controlled the Journey name and brand and thought that with ownership of Nightmare Productions came ownership of said name and brand, and by extension, a guaranteed income stream even after they stop performing.

As part of the suit, it’s mentioned that in 1998, former Journey lead singer Steve Perry entered into a written agreement giving Schon and Cain sole and irrevocable control of the Journey name, including the right to perform as Journey whenever (and with whomever) they want. The suit goes on to say that the power play began taking shape back in December of last year, when Valory and Smith started to conspire to oust Schon and Cain.

In addition to the firing, Schon and Cain have filed a claim for damages, reportedly in excess of $10 million.

Oh man – where to begin?

Let’s first talk about the stones it takes to try and seize control of the name of a band from the guy (Schon) who has been there for the very beginning, all while YOU’RE STILL IN THE BAND. Like, you have to know that you’re going to get found out, right? Journey is a multimillion-dollar enterprise; there have to be a ton of people who are constantly and carefully monitoring the financial side of things. Think one of those dudes might tell the boss? Unreal.

It’s the kind of scheme that you’d expect to see play out in a bad ‘80s movie, where some dude is mad that he doesn’t get the same accolades as the more prominent members of the band, so he creates this elaborate plan to take control of the name so he can be in charge. Only it would never happen, because even bad ‘80s movies have a line of believability that they won’t cross.

This is probably where we should talk about the fact that these same two dudes were kicked out of the band together once before. Valory was an original member of the lineup formed in 1973, while Smith joined in 1978, but both were booted from the band back in 1985 for creative differences. They were reinstated 10 or so years later, but still – how must it feel to get kicked out of the same band twice? And for that band to be f---ing Journey?

There are a lot of jokes in the music world about how generally dim bass players and drummers are. For the most part, those jokes can be dismissed, but every once in a while, you get a story that serves as a reminder that inside many stereotypes can be found a modicum – however slight – of truth. This is one of those stories, because top to bottom, this reads as one of the dumbest get-rich schemes we have ever encountered in the wild.

Seriously – this is Journey. They replaced one of the most iconic voices in rock history with a dude they found on YouTube. You think they’re going to have trouble finding a rhythm section that can hold it down on “Faithfully”?

That said, you have to admire the chutzpah. To Vaolory and Smith, all we can say is – don’t stop believin’.

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 March 2020 08:49


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