QUEENSRŸCHE members Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield and Parker Lundgren announced on June 20 that they were parting ways with singer Geoff Tate and recruiting powerhouse vocalist Todd La Torre of CRIMSON GLORY as his replacement. The new QUEENSRŸCHE lineup has already performed live, having played two shows in their home city of Seattle under the name RISING WEST.
In a recent interview with RollingStone.com, Tate revealed that he filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates on June 12 in King County Superior Court in the state of Washington in order to “sort out who is what, and who owns what, and that stuff.” Tate is also attempting to get a court injunction against Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield that would prevent them from using the name QUEENSRŸCHE for their new group.
On Monday, July 9, Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield filed a response to Tate‘s motion for preliminary injunction and included declarations from all of the defendants containing strartling details about the circumstances that led to the split between the singer and his one-time friends and longtime bandmates.
Several excerpts from Scott Rockenfield‘s declaration follow below.
“After , Geoff and [his wife] Susan Tate began controlling the band’s direction and Geoff Tate insisted on pushing only the music he was interested in pursuing. This meant that all of the material that Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and I were submitting was not getting finished. As such, Geoff Tate was basically writing with his friends, many of which were not even professional musicians.
“I have hard drives of song material written by Eddie Jackson, Michael Wilton and I that have dates and times on the files showing that in 2010 we had written dozens of hard rock songs that Geoff Tate even began singing on, but eventually was not interested in completing. He changed direction on us in late 2010 and only wanted to pursue a more pop-sounding CD, which meant he was only interested in a majority of songs being written by his friends, some of whom were homeless and living at his house.
“I have been the main composer, producer, engineer and technician for all the live backing tracks, computers, film screens and technology that is used during all QUEENSRŸCHE shows from the very beginning. This is a massive, labor intensive undertaking for each tour and has become a huge part of all the live shows for QUEENSRŸCHE through the years.
“Our stage manager and monitor tech Kelly Gray‘s claim that he and Geoff Tate do all the work is completely false. ‘Q2K’ (2000) was when we added Kelly to the band to play guitar. He was also hired as a producer/mixer for the CD. Producing and mixing a CD has many added requirements and Kelly Gray handled them well. However, his claims that he and Geoff Tate wrote the entire CD is completely and utterly false. Kelly Gray and I spent many weeks at my home studio writing a large amount of songs, and Michael Wilton and Eddie Jackson did the same. Because of everyone’s complete involvement, it was easily decided that we should just split all credits equally amongst the five members.
“Geoff Tate‘s ongoing assault and anger issues have become a serious detriment to the brand of QUEENSRŸCHE. In 2000, we had a band meeting regarding our next CD and at that meeting, he did not like some topics of discussion and stormed out of the meeting after throwing a chair across the room.
“In 2007, Geoff Tate was angered by something and approached me in the band’s dressing room and proceeded to smash my laptop on the table and then hit me in the face while spitting on me and pushing me around the room for approximately 15 minutes.
“In mid-2011, the band held a meeting in the dressing room to discuss playing some of our older material such as ‘Queen Of The Reich’. Geoff Tate got very upset and eventually screamed, ‘I am NOT ever going to play those stupid songs!’ He then stormed out of the room. We have not been allowed to perform those songs since.
“In late 2011, the band held another meeting in regards to performing ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ in its entirety for ShipRocked, a rock and roll-themed cruise scheduled for November 2011. The band was asking simple questions as to why we were being offered this and that. We wanted some more information about the offer. Geoff Tate got very upset and screamed at us, something to the effect of ‘what’s the problem and why can’t you just do this?’ and then stormed out of the dressing room.
“On April 14, 2012, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Geoff Tate violently attacked and assaulted Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and me on stage just prior to show time. Geoff Tate‘s claim that I said to him, ‘I’ve fired your family and now I’m going to fire you’ is a complete lie and many witnesses support this. All of this ongoing assault and violence from Geoff Tate has repeatedly been very bad for the band’s continued business as it has made it very difficult for the band to continue making music and play shows up to the standards that are expected by us and our worldwide fan base.
“In the last couple months at the final QUEENSRŸCHE shows that were planned with Geoff Tate, he has made repeated comments on stage to our fans about how ‘they suck’ and about how ‘this could be the end,’ etc., etc. He has made multiple comments to the band members about making sure ‘we stay away from him on stage or he will attack us again.’ He has also made ongoing statements after the Brazil incident about how he ‘wants us to stay away from him or else.’ His actions resulting from this are very damaging to the band’s brand name and has our fans very upset about his remarks, comments and personality.
“I received an email contact from Mike Kadrie at Zoetifex Studios back on December 7, 2010. His company was very interested in making QUEENSRŸCHE‘s iconic concept album ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ into an animated feature film. He and I exchanged a few emails regarding this, and being that they were excited about proceeding, I ended up passing along his contact info to Susan Tate. Susan and Geoff Tate had many exchanges with them during the course of 2011. During that time, the company was trying to raise enough investment funds to secure the rights option for a two-year deal to then pursue the BIG monies from investors to make the entire full-length feature, which was to include some A-list talents and voices. However, they were not able to raise such funds during 2011. During the process in 2011, Mike Kadrie continued to correspond with me and Susan and Geoff Tate. However, during this process, Susan and Geoff Tate had told Mike to NOT continue conversations with me or the other band members which Mike Kadrie was able to convey to me in his emails.
“Early in 2012, I received an email from Mike Kadrie stating that they had secured the rights option to the film which was authorized and done only through Geoff Tate, and that Geoff Tate had signed the agreement for the rights to them without any knowledge given to the other band members. The deal also contained an advance of monies to secure this options right, which were sent to the band’s accountant/attorney, Neil Sussman, to be held in escrow. After receiving this information from Mike Kadrie and Zoetifex Studios about securing the rights option, I informed Michael Wilton and Eddie Jackson and asked if they knew anything about this deal. Michael Wilton and Eddie Jackson had never been told about any film deals, and they were very upset about Geoff Tate presuming that he alone had the right to sign over any deals regarding any QUEENSRŸCHE intellectual properties. The band members then contacted our attorney Neil Sussman who proceeded to tell them that, YES, Geoff Tate did sign over a deal for the options rights to ‘Operation: Mindcrime’, the movie. When the band members asked Neil Sussman how he could allow such a deal to be done without their collective input, he responded by saying something to the effect that ‘Geoff told me he owned the rights, and so I just believed him and told him to sign the deal.’ This made Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and I FURIOUS.
“On March 7, 2012, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and I immediately signed and sent a certified document to Neil Sussman and Geoff Tate stating that this contract and deal was not authorized and that we request that all contracts relating to this deal be ‘suspended’ and that Neil Sussman was ‘NOT ALLOWED TO DISPERSE ANY MONIES BEING HELD IN ESCROW.’
“On March 8, 2012, Neil Sussman confirmed that he had received this certified mailing and that since there was a conflict of interest regarding this movie deal, that he would not continue to work on any such related matters, and that he would not disperse any monies being held in escrow.
“On April 14, 2012, in Brazil, the band held a meeting in our dressing room at Geoff Tate‘s request. During this meeting we asked Geoff Tate about this ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ movie deal. He responded by saying that he knew nothing about any ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ movie deal. When asked further questions, Geoff Tate responded by saying that, ‘Yes, I signed a deal for the story rights and that was a deal for me.’ The band members absolutely disagree with him and that anything related to QUEENSRŸCHE music, recordings, CDs, DVDs, videos, story lines, logos, and trademarks are absolutely considered intellectual properties owned by QUEENSRŸCHE, and that NO ONE band member has any rights to sign contracts or accept offers on behalf of QUEENSRŸCHE properties.
“On Saturday, April 14, 2012, at approximately 11:05 p.m., we (the band) had just arrived on the stage behind the curtain approximately 10 minutes before our show was to commence in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with 2000+ concertgoers in attendance. I was getting up onto my drum riser when fellow band member Geoff Tate walked in front of my drums and spit into my face while proceeding to yell obscenities at me. Geoff Tate then pushed my drums down onto the drum riser causing the first delays for the show. Geoff Tate then walked around the stage left behind Michael Wilton‘s guitar speakers and confronted Michael Wilton face to face. He proceeded to yell obscenities at him before striking him with his fist on the right upper side of Michael Wilton‘s face. I came off my drum riser to Michael Wilton‘s aid and told Geoff Tate to back off. Geoff Tate continued to yell obscenities and spit at both Michael Wilton and me, and then at that time proceeded to strike me in the face twice. I backed away and asked for security to assist the situation. Geoff Tate continued yelling obscenities and spitting at the band members while chasing us around the stage. The local stage security and our own crew came to assist in trying to subdue Geoff Tate. Geoff Tate continued to resist and kept chasing the band members around the stage, all the while screaming obscenities, spitting at them and threatening them. Our tour manager, Orlando Scott ‘Fozzy’ O’Hare, came to subdue Geoff Tate and move him to his position on the stage left. After a few minutes of Orlando Scott ‘Fozzy’ O’Hare trying to calm Geoff Tate down, Geoff Tate then came back across the stage at the band members. He continued to spit and yell obscenities and was trying to get close to them to continue his assault. Local security created a barrier between me, Eddie Jackson and Michael Wilton to keep Geoff Tate from approaching. This behavior continued for about 20 to 25 minutes while we were forced to delay the show. Michael Wilton was handed an ice pack to hold to his face to try and keep any swelling to a minimum. After the situation was under control, the other band members and the band’s crew had to fix the damage caused to their equipment during this assault before the show could proceed as scheduled.
“Just minutes prior to the show commencing, Orlando Scott ‘Fozzy’ O’Hare was told by Geoff Tate that he was going to attack Eddie Jackson next and that he was going to ‘mess’ with me all during the show. The entire incident lasted about 25 minutes. During the show, Geoff Tate continued to spit on the band members and their equipment, which was clearly seen by the fans in attendance and caused a very uncomfortable situation for the band to perform at the level the fans expected and paid for.
“During the show, Orlando Scott ‘Fozzy’ O’Hare advised us to exit the stage and go directly into our transportation to get away from Geoff Tate and his possible continued assault. There was concern that Geoff Tate would try and assault us on stage during our final bows to the crowd. We arrived at our hotel safely soon thereafter and were told to stay in our rooms until later the next day to avoid any further confrontations. Local authorities in discussion with our stage manager, Orlando Scott ‘Fozzy’ O’Hare, agreed to have Geoff Tate booked on another plane flight different from our original flights to also further avoid confrontations. Geoff Tate‘s new flight cost over $2,500. Later in the night when Geoff Tate departed the venue with Orlando Scott ‘Fozzy’ O’Hare to go back to the hotel, Geoff Tate proceeded to tell Orlando Scott ‘Fozzy’ O’Hare to tell me to ‘keep the f**k away from him.’
“Geoff Tate‘s continued lack of interest in original QUEENSRŸCHE music or playing the older QUEENSRŸCHE music is resulting in damage to the brand of QUEENSRŸCHE. His recent and ongoing threats and assaults continued to place a great amount of stress on the remaining band members and their crew. Geoff Tate was no longer allowed to travel with the band, stay in the same hotels, participate in any band interviews, and had to be escorted at the venues with security. This was a very damaging form of business and had left the band with no choice but to move on without him.”